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Technical

April 2011

The wedding season is underway and I am shooting everything this year with EOS-1D Mark IV DSLRs and the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM as my main lens. I am also using the EF50mm f/1.2L USM, the EF85mm f/1.2L II USM, and the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is getting some use as well. I like to use the dual card option with the EOS-1D Mark IV so that I’ve got an in-camera backup – the SD card is used as a backup to the CF card just in case I need it. I haven’t had to use it yet, but you never know what is around the corner. 

© Jeff Ascough

Candid of couple kissing, shot from back of church. Shot on the EOS-1D Mark IV with the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the exposure was 1/80sec at f/3.2, ISO 1600.

After a wedding shoot, workflow becomes important and the first thing I do is ingest all of the CF cards using a product called PhotoMechanic. The cards are ingested to two places, so I have one as a backup to the other. One is ingested to the main hard drive that I’ll be working on and the second copy is ingested to an external hard drive, so I’ve always got a reference to go back to if I need to. The cards are not formatted until I have at least two copies of the files.

Once the cards are ingested, PhotoMechanic is used to edit the images down. Basically I ‘edit in’ – I go through the whole wedding and I just mark the pictures that I want to keep and ignore everything else. The selected images are transferred to another drive where they are imported in to Adobe Lightroom.

The RAW conversions are done in Lightroom – in fact for most pictures everything that I need to do to enhance the images is done in Lightroom, including black and white conversion, noise reduction, dodging and burning. Once the images are finished they are exported as level 8 JPEGs to another folder. At that point if there’s anything that still needs doing to them in terms of actual retouching it will be done in Photoshop. The finished set of JPEGs is backed up to a RAID system, and also to a Cloud server.

© Jeff Ascough

Bride and groom hold hands, showing wedding dress and ring detail. Shot on the EOS-1D Mark IV with the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the exposure was 1/80sec at f2.8, ISO 3200.

When it comes to printing I import all of the finished JPEGs back into Lightroom, but this time to a computer that’s attached to the imagePROGRAF iPF6350 large format printer. It’s a MacBook Pro that’s dedicated purely to printing so that I know exactly where I am in terms of what has been printed and what hasn’t been printed. It is also faster to use a dedicated connection to the printer rather than trying to print via a network. In Lightroom I use templates that I’ve created that correspond with the 24-inch width of the printer so that I can print multiple sizes onto one sheet of paper. The pictures are guillotined, trimmed and then put into albums.

Funnily enough, I was in Holland a few weeks ago demoing the iPF6300; showing how you can print multiple images from Lightroom on one sheet of paper. People just didn’t realise they could do that – they thought such a printer was just for printing big pictures. But you just make a template, save it, and then you just drop your pictures into the template and then print it – it’s as simple as that.   

The reason I went for the iPF6350 initially was for the black and white quality it produces. My output is about 80% black and white right now. I have always been passionate about black and white images, but always had a sense of frustration at the quality of black and white that was produced by commercial labs. Once I saw the very first black and white print from the printer, I knew that black and white quality was never going to be an issue again. The print quality I achieve now is a world away from what I received previously, and I would argue that it is better than I used to produce in my own darkroom many years ago.

© Jeff Ascough

Best man sitting at end of table reading his speech. Shot on the EOS-1D Mark IV with the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the exposure was 1/80sec at f/3.2, ISO 1600.

The printer is really easy to use, especially if you use the Canon printer profiles and papers. Third party papers need to have a profile made for them, which is reasonably simple to do but I haven’t been able to improve upon the profiles that Canon supplies, even by calibrating myself. Currently I use just a couple of papers, the main one being the Canon Glacier paper.

I’ve been shooting more with the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens recently. I’ve always been a wideangle shooter, but there are times during the wedding when it becomes impossible to use a wideangle, and the new lens has been filling those gaps for me. The flexibility of the new lens is really impressive, especially with the improvement in terms of the Image Stabilization. This new version of the lens seems to be allowing me to handhold at least a stop slower than before, which is really good. It also handles flare better than the ‘Mark I’ version of the lens. I’ve noticed that if you shoot into the light, or if you’ve got a really strong light source off to one side, the lens is handles it really well.  

© Jeff Ascough

Bride cries in memory of her father during wedding speeches. Shot on the EOS 5D Mark II with the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the exposure was 1/100sec at f/2.8, ISO 6400.

There’s a shot of a bride crying – the guy in the photo in the background is her Dad. It was during the speeches and they were talking about him, so she had a handkerchief up to her eyes. That was a classic case of using the extra stop of Image Stabilization because it was a really low light situation. With any non-IS telephoto I’d only be comfortable using it at around 1/200sec, and I wouldn’t have the flexibility of a zoom, but with this lens you can come down a lot more than that – so it works well. The improved IS gives you the confidence to be able to shoot at lower light levels, which is a positive for my style of shooting.

To shoot details on a table I like the improved focusing distance of the new lens, and I like to use perspective to pull the background in, compress perspective a little bit, and to isolate whatever’s on a table; whether it’s flowers, a menu, or a name card. In the past I’d struggle to get close enough to actually include the detail at a reasonable size in the frame and then still get that compression in the background – it’s always been a case of taking it and then cropping it afterwards. You can now get that little bit closer to what you’re shooting, so you’re able to use the full image area quite easily.    

The shot of the best man reading his speech at the end of a table – this was shot at 1/80sec at ISO 1600. Normally that situation would require cranking it up another stop on ISO and I’d have probably shot at 1/160sec just to be safe.   

© Jeff Ascough

Wedding guest takes part in a falconry display outside a church. Shot on the EOS-1D Mark IV with the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the exposure was 1/1000sec at f/4, ISO 800.

The shot of a falconry display at a church was a classic 200mm shot, just waiting for the bird to come in, again just to get that compression. I wanted to make the hawk look bigger as it was flying in, so that’s why I used the 70-200mm. You can see from the image how sharp the lens is – it’s really, really sharp. Looking at it on a full size screen the detail in the hat and glove is just incredible. The sharpness on it was absolutely terrific, quite staggering.

* Watch out on the CPN website for more news and coverage of how the upcoming Royal Wedding will be photographed.

Biography: Jeff Ascough

Jeff Ascough

UK-based wedding photographer Jeff Ascough has been shooting portraits and weddings since 1989. He is best known for his documentary style approach to weddings and this style has, to date, won him over 170 awards for his work. A Canon Ambassador since 2008, Jeff’s reputation has spread across the Atlantic Ocean and he received a ‘Lens & Light Honor’ in 2010. Already in 2011 he has been described by Newsweek as: “One of the planet’s most evocative wedding photographers,” and has had some of his photographs displayed at the Getty Images Gallery in London.



Showcase

Best man sitting at end of table reading his speech. Shot on the EOS-1D Mark IV with the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the exposure was 1/80sec at f/3.2, ISO 1600.