Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hartwood Acres 6.28.08

What a sweet wedding! Heather and Dean were married at the beautiful Hartwood Acres Mansion Saturday afternoon. Right now it's late, I'm tired, but I was so excited to see these images I had to peek (and show off a couple of favs!). Thanks so much guys for allowing me to share your day! I'll see you when you get back from your honeymoon! Enjoy!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wedding Favors

One of the things I love about my job is I get to help my brides and grooms by referring other vendors I have worked with and respect. I’m also constantly searching the web for sites that make couple's lives just a little easier as they plan their big day.

Finding the right wedding favor is always a challenge. You want it personal, touching and surprising. Thanks to fellow photographer Jessica Claire, today I can whole-heartedly recommend beaucoup. These folks have some of the coolest favors around! They offer hundreds of gift ideas, most of which can be personalized, and free shipping to your door.

If you know other places please share the love and let everyone know by leaving a comment below.

Enjoy the day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Marcia and Ron slideshow

Hope you enjoy the show!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Heinz Hall Wedding 06.21.08

This was one of those weddings I KNEW was going to be over the top from the moment I first met Marcia and Ron almost a year ago. The more Marcia talked about their plans the more excited I got. When she called back to book I literally did the happy Snoopy dance! On Saturday my anticipation and expectation was realized, it was indeed a wedding to remember!

Marcia and Ron are such a awesome couple – they met at work, dated on the low down (no fraternizing at work), fell in love and on Saturday married at the Heinz Hall garden, surrounded by great friends and family. The blending of their respective cultures and religions was handled with grace and style. Calling this a “beautiful wedding” would be a monstrous understatement.

The reception was incredible! First off, it was held at the uber stylish Privilege Ultralounge in the Strip. A Chinese ribbon dancer, dragon dancers and others performed between introductions of parents and the bridal party. The Boilermaker Jazz Band provided absolute killer music (proven by the packed dance floor all night). And, to top off the evening right, their cater, the divine Greco’s Gourmet Catering, served a mouth watering Chinese feast prepared on site!

Guys, thank you SO much for everything, it was truly an honor, a privilege and a joy to be a part of your day!

It's hard to go wrong with a bride this beautiful...

and a groom this good looking

Long strings of buttons make for cool pictures!

There are so many great places to make pictures in Heinz Hall!

An emotional father daughter dance

The cake was made from Styrofoam to avoid any chance of face smashing!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Graduation Day!

It's official, my daughter, Cailyn, is now a graduate! Saturday was the big day of pomp and circumstance followed up on Sunday with a delicious celebratory luncheon for friends and family at our favorite restaurant, Sushi Tomo. Grandparents were not 100% into the sushi ("what, no bread?") but they made the best of it. Everyone, however, enjoyed the awesome chocolate cake with almond icing from Potomac Bakery in Dormont (412-531-5067). They create one of the absolute best tasting cakes around. And I KNOW cake!!

Ah, but as this door closes another will soon open as my "little girl" gets ready for the next step... college!

Where does the time go? It feels like only yesterday I was holding her in my arms. When I see a bride's father choking back tears I understand and relate.

Picture proof (note diploma in hand!)

Proud pappa

Something sushi

Dee-licious cake!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Random thoughts on Friday

What a great (and busy) time it's been lately!

The big news for the week (year, decade, millennium), is my daughter, Cailyn, graduates Saturday from the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center! Her emphasis of study has been music composition. Several pieces she's written have already been performed. Cailyn plays the flute, piano, guitar and several other minor instruments. We are all super excited, and yes, there will be photos next week! Next year she's off to college (yet to be determined) to study, what else, music. It's neat the creative apple didn't fall too far from the tree!!


Several commercial portrait assignments this week allowed me to experiment with multiple light and create some really cool images. Examples coming in a few days, after the client receives the photos.

Using many lights to shape and add drama to a photo is really nothing new (I've been doing it for decades), but with today's "smart" flashes it's both exciting and challenging. Usually the challenge is to get them all to go off at the same time! More on that in another post later on...


This week I had the pleasure of photographing Sheena and David's eSession in Oakland and on the Southside. They're a super sweet couple and I'm really excited to photograph their wedding this coming October. We had a great time and ended the shoot with a wonderful dinner on the Southside. Here are a couple shots from the session...


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Amanda & Jeremy Slide Show

Without further ado, here is a slide show of Amanda and Jeremy. Hope you enjoy the show!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Amanda & Jeremy 06.07.08

I have to say, I have the BEST BRIDES!! I've been looking forward to this wedding all year, in fact, for a couple of years! Amanda first contacted me about her wedding back in 2006 (it's never too early to plan!). We've been emailing back and forth since then so I knew this was going to be a fun and emotional day.

After a full Mass at Our Lady of Peace we headed out to Robin Hill Park for a few special pictures. With temps in the 90's my experience shooting for national magazines paid off -- we were able to do all the shots in record time so nobody was in the heat too long. After that it was time to party!

Thanks guys, it was so much fun to be part of your day. See you soon!

Amanda's dad did a pretty good job holding it together

I love the sun as it gets low in the sky!

The cake was awesome thanks to Carol's Cakes

Party time!

Some of the young ones couldn't hang...

Others found a different way to hang

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Phipps Conservatory shut out and Photoshop overload

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a Photoshop geek. But I have reason to be, I've been using the program (off and on) since version 2.0. Macs, back in those days, were self contained beige boxes with five inch black and white screens. A far cry from the dual 23" cinema displays I use today.

Just because I've used the program so long do I consider myself an "expert" user? NO WAY! This program is SO deep I don't even scratch the surface. I know just enough of the workings to get lost playing around for hours at a time.

Megan and Matthew wanted to be photographed at Phipps Conservatory for their engagement session. Unfortunately the folks at Phipps only allow professionals to make photos if they pay -- $200 for 45 minutes. They also only allow you in one room -- of their choosing. Of course, if you want to take pictures of the flowers and don't look like you know what you're doing (or don't have fancy camera equipment) you can do whatever you want (within reason). Oh, and membership does NOT have any privilege in this matter.

So we did the next best thing and shoot around outside. No fees involved.

The weather was a bit shaky -- dark clouds, steel sky, overall yuck. But, with a little imagination and a bit of Photoshop pixie dust ; ) a pretty cool picture was born. My only regret is I didn't save a screen shot showing all the layers involved -- there were a LOT of them! But in the end, the vision for this image came through.

Color version. Maybe a bit surreal?

Sepia option. More of the mood I had in my minds eye.

PS. I know some in the photo community believe in the "better to ask forgiveness than be denied permission" motto. I'm not one of them. I try very hard to play by the rules. It was how I was raised. But that's a debate (rant) for another day...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Strobist lighting

The weather Tuesday morning was oh so typical crappy Pittsburgh -- dark, gray skies with little definition. Not exactly exciting to shoot under, especially when I planned to include a good portion of the sky in the frame. So when you're handed a lemon the only thing to do is make lemonade!

I started by setting my Canon 5D to a tungsten color balance. This way any daylight would be rendered as blue.

To light the subject I placed my main light, a Canon 580 EX at 45 degrees to subject on my right side. To balance the tungsten setting I place a full CTO filter over the flash, but since I wanted the main slightly warmer than normal I added a 1/2 CTO to boost the color.

The second flash, also a 580 EX, was placed low and pointed up at the Bonsai tree. The tree light was covered with a full CTO to bring it back to normal. The flashes were set to "slave" and triggered by a hot shoe mounted Canon ST-E2. Camera exposure was 1/200 at f14, about two stops below "normal" ambient exposure. The main light needed a 1 stop boost in exposure compensation to achieve the desired exposure. The lens was a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 MK II L.

The only Photoshop work I did on this image was darken the edges slightly, run an overall sharpen and definition action, boost the blue a bit and tweak the facial color. As is my normal workflow, all PS work is done on 16-bit TIFF files, then converted to 8-bit Adobe 1998 for client delivery or JPEG, sRGB for web.

Lemonade from a lemon of a day. Gotta love it.

For many more super cool tips and tricks check out the Strobist blog.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

God is in the details

I saw this sign today while doing a portrait for an upcoming editorial piece. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of the incredible gift we have in this life. God is in the details. Indeed.

And in case you wondered, the "things" hanging from the sign are leaves. Very cool leaves.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pittsburgh Professional Magazine

Hot off the presses! The latest edition of Pittsburgh Professional Magazine is out and one of my photos is on the cover!

Lisa Roundabush is the General Manager of the Mon Valley Works for US Steel. Pittsburgh, as the world knows, has a great heritage of steel making and Lisa is almost evangelical on the point -- big steel has not left Pittsburgh. I hope you will pick up a copy of the magazine. It's a good read.