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more mixed light & colour :: June 17

Jenn & Chris | The Distillery District Toronto | Leica Noctilux 1.0 @ f2; M9

Another boost of warmth from tungsten light that happens to be flooding the background. As I mentioned in the “rainy day” post, you generally like to avoid mixed light, but in this case the sunset sky was just light enough to give nice skin tones from daylight while the tungsten works to amplify the colour and express emotion.

The venue is the Toronto Distillery district. We had a load of fun on Toronto Island and back in the Distillery too, just as the sun had set.

And that’s another Noctilux 1.0 M9 shot, this time the Noctilux is stopped down to make sure both Jenn and Scott are in focus. As you can see here, though, it’s very flare-resistant and gives fine detail throughout a shot. In this one, I didn’t have to add much contrast at all. The camera here is the Leica M9, a wonderful tool for creative expression, not in the least because its colour capability in these conditions is exceptionally good.

The Noctilux is not just a one-trick 50mm lens, either. It really is a superb 50mm lens with lots of  detail stopped down. For proof, look at the top of this blog. That’s also a Noctilux shot–and also from Jenn and Scott’s engagement–but this time the Noctilux / M9 combination is recording them looking over the Toronto sky line at f5.6, so you can see them and the skyline in detail, even in the Web-sized shot.

cold and rainy :: June 17

Allison & Duncan, Halton Museum, Milton

We’ve had a really cold and wet wedding season so far! In May you didn’t really even need a forecast…

So for this week’s picture I thought I’d use something that illustrates both the weather *and* a photographic  problem turned into a solution: mixed light. Photographers usually–and with good reason–hate mixed light.

Mixed light is light of different colour temperatures that come from different light sources. Different temperature light falling on a subject means–whether you’re shooting film or digital–the subject will have different colour casts. To get natural looking colour, photographers tend to prefer consistent light. That way, you can balance the colour well and have convincing colour tone across the image.  This is one reason I gel my flashes at a reception; I want the colour of my flash to look more like the reception lights than daylight (which is, generally speaking, a flash head’s colour balance).

So at Allison and Duncan’s wedding in May, it was cold. And wet… all day. This quick shot of them by a light fixture on the wall came late afternoon, and was one of our quick trips outside!

Here  you see the light on them being contributed by the ambient–and very dull–daylight, and the light behind them coming from the light fixture on the wall. Wonderfully, the black umbrella that they needed for the rain shielded their faces so there’s good and consistent skin tones, while the “out of colour balance” tungsten light lends a lot of warmth to what otherwise would simply be cold and dull. That warmth “naturally” surrounds them in this shot, and so I like the fact that the light lends emotional strength to the moment’s emotional value.

And given the weather we’ve been having lately, there’s nothing wrong with a little more warmth 🙂

expressionism & romance :: june 10

Laurin & Jonathan, Leica Noctilux 1.0 @ 1.0; M9


The impact of romance, of our connections, of the ongoing importance of what we feel together: how do you create that, photographically?

What better place to start with for a blog about the art of wedding photography than with expressionism?

It’s true, a lot of what I try to do with my work, along with what many of the best photographers I admire, is document the way a wedding day unfolds in what’s become known as a “photojournalistic” but compelling style. But that’s not to say that that the pictures are devoid of emotional content, or that the impact the situation makes on the me isn’t important, or that it doesn’t need to be interpreted. I also really do prefer naturalistic photography–simple (looking) photographic expression–even if done right, those shots are not simple at all in concept or execution.

Every now and then, though, you can push through to something more emotional. When it all comes together playing with the sun and the shade, a hat, and a moment between two people, then you can express more than just the particulars of the day, and get at something more interesting.

I should say that I’m totally not against post-processing images either to get that kind of emotional or communicative impact. We did the same kinds of things in the darkroom to make something look more dense or more sharp, or to lighten parts of an image and draw your eye through the picture,  or to darken it and keep things hidden. But there’s a fine balance between the photographic process, which is, for me, always about a moment, a gesture and how light illuminates that gesture, and a purely illustrative or painterly impulse, which creates those things after the fact (and often in spite of the fact).

But this image is pretty much straight out of the Leica M9 camera. On the technical side of things, the lens–the Leica f1 Noctilux–is actually incredibly flare-resistant. It’s really meant for shooting when the light is very low. But when pushed as it is here by the direct sun, and shot wide open (at f1.0), it flares in a spectacularly predictable and colorful fashion (without, by the way, losing contrast or focus through the whole image, which is quite impressive, to say the least!).    The M9 was actually set to ISO 1600 for this shot, but any noise you’re seeing is JPEG compression for the blog. What the high ISO did was add a little kick by compressing the tones and building contrast (the Noctilux retains a lot of detail and pushing the ISO is one way to compress that without a computer ;))


Welcome to the LeicaFiles portion of my blog.

Many people know I’m a passionate photographer, and my camera and lenses of choice for event work, including weddings, are all Leica film and digital bodies with a host of M lenses. Yes, I shoot with other cameras–a Nikon D3 in particular, but I’ve also used Canon and others. But the ones that I love using are all Leicas.

Here’s where I’m going to discuss using the digital M–right now that means the M9–as a professional camera. I’ll also discuss some of my favourite M and R lenses (I used to shoot an R9 and DMR till recently as well).

With any luck at all, I’ll also have some things to say about the Leica S system as well.

Oh–and lots of pictures here too!

lots of changes!

There are a lot of changes coming to this blog, and to my web site. Stay tuned–I have a new site coming ‘really soon now’ and I will showcase my wedding portfolio there.

Here, I’d like to use the blog to discuss one or two personal or wedding pictures per week, and tease out some photographic insight from that discussion.

I’ve also got a new category called LeicaFiles 🙂 and that’s where I’ll discuss photographic technology, particularly around shooting with Leica M (and maybe even S!) cameras.