What would be a Finnish summer without weddings? I don't know how it happens in the rest of the world, but in Finland majority of weddings are arranged in summer when there is plenty of light and warm. So it happened that my own sister Senja was getting married with Esa and she asked if I could take some pictures of the event. Now, I've never done any wedding photography before but I thought that while I'm trying to stay active with my photography I should also throw myself into situations that are far beyond my comfort zone – and besides being a close relative I couldn't have said 'no' for her anyway. So I decided to try out some wedding photography.
In overall the situation was not as challenging as it first sounds because my role was to act as a 'second shooter' which also meant that I didn't have to sweat for the formal wedding portrait (phew), and I could concentrate on being there at the moment armed with my camera. I chose to work this through with the Batis 1.8/85 and Batis 2/25 because of their autofocus capability. I had plenty of excitement already and I didn't want to mix the challenge of manual focus with the Loxias there. This was definitely an oddball setup as I was basically missing some of the most used focal lengths and was kind of working with the extreme ends of standard 24-70 mm lens which is pretty common in wedding and event photography. Afterwards I think I should have tried the Loxias there as well because for certain kind of pictures focusing manually isn't really a problem (and I've become accustomed to it quite a bit actually). Working with Batis lenses was great from image quality's point of view, but I have to admit that nothing beats a fast zoom like the new Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM as it would have given me a lot more agility during the fast moments.
I already knew beforehand that the most challenging part of the day would definitely be the ceremony. It's been awhile since I've attended to a wedding and to be honest I didn't have any clue how the ceremony would progress. But preparation is everything and I walked it through with my sister couple of days before the actual event and composed myself a strategy of what I would shoot, where I would be and when I would switch lenses. This was some of the best decisions I made regarding the whole wedding and it was a great help for better pictures. During the rehearsal the light was pretty low inside the church (constantly above iso1600) which made me a bit nervous for the actual wedding day, but when the day came it was a lot better - considering it afterwards it seems I had a bit of beginner's luck as it could have been a lot more difficult regarding the light during the ceremony.
When the ceremony was done the celebration was kicked off in a small local vineyard and I stayed there photographing the event until the night. Over the whole day I shot approximately 1400 shots, and already at the party I thought that the large quantity of pictures could be a potential headache later on when post processing them. Add in a different kind of low light and mixed light situations I was afraid that editing all pictures could turn out to be too laborious work which I would be chewing weeks after the event. In short, I thought this could turn out to be a potential nightmare.
But this is where the Mastin Labs presets kick in (see what I wrote about them earlier here). Since I got the presets and I've liked them a lot I decided that I would edit the whole shoot with just them and nothing else. This way I would become familiar with them and see how they work in this kind of more demanding situation. This turned out to be a very wise choice since the Portra pack, especially the Portra 800 preset, gave me a very nice starting point for the whole project. From 1400 shots I chose 120 final shots which I edited all in just three nights. With my old post processing routines this would have taken a lot more time, and I'm pretty sure I like the result is even better this way. Especially the skin colors were lot easier to achieve and I only had to resort to Photoshop in couple of pictures (everything was originally edited in Lightroom). Another big plus regarding the Portra pack was the consistent look I was able achieve. This is something I haven't really paid attention before, but now that I used basically just one preset (Portra 800) as starting point for the whole project, the end result looks more consistent and 'professional' – if I dare to say that with my nonexistent wedding photography experience (for the b&w I used the Ilford pack which also came out pretty nice in my eye though I'm clearly no expert when it comes to b&w photography). All in all I have to say that the Mastin Labs presets saved me from drifting into too laborious work, and I got the job done with results that I really like. I'm really happy that I came across them since they have change the way I approach the whole post processing thing.
In the end I think I made it through with honorably, and Senja & Esa were also happy with the pictures I did. Of course I missed some situations during the day and having more experience of weddings could have improved my output, but in the end I'm also happy with the results. Being there at their wedding was also one of the summer highlights which I had been waiting for whole summer. And in retrospect it's easy to say that our summer would not have been complete without this wedding celebration. Again, congratulations to Senja & Esa!