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One year anniversary and bridal portraits at the Conway Riverwalk

It seems like I’ve had a lot of weddings and photo sessions recently at the Conway Riverwalk. It’s a beautiful alternative location for pictures if you want to get away from the beach. This couple got married about a year ago back in their hometown, but due to weather and other circumstances they weren’t happy with the pictures from their wedding. So while they were on their anniversary vacation in Myrtle Beach, the bride wanted to put back on her wedding dress and take some bridal portraits, as well as some romantic pictures with her husband. As I mentioned in …

Read post and view pictures One year anniversary and bridal portraits at the Conway Riverwalk

Bridal portraits on the Conway River and new Garden walks with the Nikon D850

I always love doing bridal portraits in the Conway Riverwalk area. After a busy summer of family beach pictures, I get a little tired of taking pictures on the sand. They have been doing construction work on the old Conway Main Street Bridge over a year now, but it now seems almost complete. The workers have repainted the bottom of the bridge a nice shade of green, and it looks great in the background of boardwalk pictures. The only problem is the riverwalk is still split into two sections by the construction, you can’t walk from the north end all …

Read post and view pictures Bridal portraits on the Conway River and new Garden walks with the Nikon D850

Bridal portraits at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club

I was just completing the wedding album for Sarah and Jeff, the bride and groom from a beautiful wedding this past October 27th. I remembered that I never posted pictures from Sarah’s bridal portrait session from about a month before the wedding. These bridal portraits were taken at Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club, the same location as their wedding. Pawleys Plantation is one of my favorite venues for photography, you can read more about this location in my featured blog category here. I started out taking pictures of the bride in front of the clubhouse. I always love the …

Read post and view pictures Bridal portraits at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club

Bridal portraits at Upper Mill Plantation in Bucksville

I had a lot of fun shooting bridal portraits at Upper Mill Plantation this past spring. This bride and groom just got married at the plantation on Saturday, so I’m now able to post some of these pictures. Upper Mill Plantation has a lot of pretty photography spots. We started out walking to the pond near the entrance to the area. This marsh area has lots of moss covered oak trees growing from water. The combination of the sunset reflecting off the water and the light filtering through the trees is a really beautiful backdrop for a bridal portrait. Next …

Read post and view pictures Bridal portraits at Upper Mill Plantation in Bucksville

Beautiful bridal portraits at Rosewood Manor in Marion, SC

This was my first time doing photography at the Rosewood Manor Bed & Breakfast in Marion, SC. I understand this is a popular bridal portraits location, in fact there was another bride finishing up her portraits right before we arrived. I actually shot these pictures a few months ago, but as always with bridal portraits, I have to wait until after the wedding to post them. At the wedding held this past Saturday, I really liked seeing how the bride had her portraits in small frames spread all around the Manor. There was also a couple of large 16×20’s matted …

Read post and view pictures Beautiful bridal portraits at Rosewood Manor in Marion, SC

Bridal portraits at the South Carolina State House and Conway Riverwalk

I decided to combine together two recent bridal portrait sessions into one post since both their weddings were recently over. The first bridal session was at the South Carolina State House in Columbia. It’s always fun to take pictures somewhere I’ve never been. This bride has family that works in the government so we had special access to go wherever we wanted. The only problem was the terrible weather that day. We had to run through the rain to get to the State House, and all the pictures had to be done inside. The grounds around the area are beautiful so …

Read post and view pictures Bridal portraits at the South Carolina State House and Conway Riverwalk

Beautiful evening for bridal portraits at Atalaya Castle in Murrells Inlet, SC

I was able to work with a really pretty bride the other evening doing bridal portraits at Atalaya Castle in the Huntington State Park. The evening was great except for being a bit cold. Because of the 5:00pm closing time of the Atalaya Castle, we had to stay outside the castle to be able to catch the sunset. The poor bride almost froze to death by the end of the session, but I think it will be worth it to her when she sees the pictures. She did a pretty good job of not looking cold, at least as long …

Read post and view pictures Beautiful evening for bridal portraits at Atalaya Castle in Murrells Inlet, SC

Bridal portraits at Pawleys Plantation and the Conway River Walk

I don’t typically do an many bridal portraits as other types of photography.  A lot of people prefer to do engagement pictures with me and just do some bridal style pictures at the wedding.  But it’s always a lot of fun when I get to. This is one of the best kinds of photography you can do, a bride all dressed up for a wedding, without the stress and limited time of the wedding itself.  It’s pretty hard to go wrong as long as you have a pretty location to work with. I thought I would post just a few …

Read post and view pictures Bridal portraits at Pawleys Plantation and the Conway River Walk

Quick review of the Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens with Bridal and Engagement pictures

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I purchased a new lens, the Sigma 85mm EX DG HSM f1.4.  This quick review is from using a full frame Nikon D700 camera with this lens. I typically only buy Nikon lenses, so I have some top of the line lenses to compare the Sigma too, such as the latest Nikon 24-70 f2.8.  Nikon’s high end lenses have incredible optics and lens coatings that really control typical problems like chromatic aberration and lens flare.  My main concern is taking the highest quality pictures possible, currently Nikon’s 85mm f1.4 lens is $1700 vs $1000 for the Sigma which is a nice difference, but the big problem is you just can’t buy Nikon’s version.  I checked all of Nikon’s authorized dealers and I just can’t find it in stock.  I had read really good reviews of the Sigma lens from photographers such as Ryan Brenizer that I really respect, so I decided I would give it a try.

First of all, the lens has beautiful Bokeh, or the nice smooth out of focus areas in the background and foreground.  At f1.4, you are going to get a very shallow depth of field, a very small area of the picture that is in focus.  However, different lenses even at the same aperture, can vary a lot in the quality of the out of focus area or Bokeh. The out of focus areas of a picture can be as important as the in focus areas. I included the first shot below, not as an example of a really good picture, but because I wanted to show the quality of the Bokeh.  If you notice there is very little flare from the sun, even in the harsh lighting conditions.  The spots of light coming through the trees have turned into beautiful rounded discs, this means there is a high quality rounded aperture.  Of course I knew the Bokeh would be nice from the reviews I had read.

Focus and handling of the lens is really something you need hands on time with to know if it works for you.  My Nikon lenses such as the 24-70 and 70-200 focus extremely fast on the Nikon D700 body.  I knew the Sigma would not be that fast, but I’m pleasantly surprised with how quickly and spot on it locks the focus.  I occasionally miss focus on a shot, but it always seems to be my fault. When you are shooting wide open at f1.4 you have to be really careful to keep your subject in focus, it’s almost impossible if they are moving.  I actually was more afraid of shooting at f1.4 than I should have been, almost all my shots had almost perfect focus, or at least close enough it looked good.

To sum up my quick review, so far I’ve found the Sigma to have excellent focus, beautiful Bokeh, and fast performance.  I haven’t tried it in low light yet such as at a wedding reception, so I will see how it goes.  But so far I’m more than happy with the results I’ve been getting.  I hope you enjoy some of the shots below, they were all shot with the Sigma 85mm wide open at f1.4.  I’ll update this after using the lens more this summer, so far it seems like an excellent addition to my always growing bag of gear.

Note: If the things I talked about in the post sound confusing, there are lots of links that explain everything.  You will learn a lot if you check them out.

Update to this article: A few days after I wrote this I actually found the Nikon version of this lens in stock at the Nikon store for $1699.  I ordered this and will likely be returning the Sigma.  Everything I said about the Sigma is true, it’s a fantastic lens.  So why did I get the Nikon?  It’s all about build quality.  I was getting frustrated at my recent wedding because it was raining and I knew the Sigma is not weather sealed.  While the picture quality is fantastic, I use my lenses so much and in such harsh conditions I decided I should go with the Nikon.  Nikon builds their high end lenses like a tank, and while the build quality of the Sigma is fine, I decided I would prefer the weather sealing of the Nikon.  But if you aren’t a pro, get the Sigma.  It’s great for normal use.

This image is just here to show the quality of the Bokeh
Sunlight hitting the veil - Bridal Portrait - Myrtle Beach

Read post and view pictures Quick review of the Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens with Bridal and Engagement pictures

Wedding reception at the Conway River Walk

I had a fun wedding reception a couple of weeks ago in the Conway River Walk area, specifically at the Peanut Warehouse.  The Conway area is a small historic town about 20 minutes away from Myrtle Beach.  Conway has a really pretty area on the river, with some nearby railroad tracks that are no longer used, that makes for a great photo location.  This couple already had their wedding ceremony in Italy, they were just having a second reception for the family and friends that were not able to make the trip.  I wouldn’t normally want to just photograph a reception only, but this couple had me do bridal and couple pictures before the reception.  It was pretty much what I would do for any wedding except for the actual ceremony itself.  I just know my pictures can’t really compete with the beautiful location they had for their wedding.

This turned out to be a lot of fun because the bride was not worried about her dress and we had lots of extra time for pictures of her and the couple, a lot more time than I would typically have at a wedding.  Everyone was really relaxed as well.  The couple even ventured out pretty far on the railroad tracks to a little bridge overlooking the water.  I was actually surprised they were willing to do so much because the tracks are very difficult to walk on.  I’m always up for anything, so if there are any adventurous couples that want to try something different please let me know.

The only problem with the pictures is it was a very overcast evening, which can be nice, but it was making for some flat kind of boring light. I’ve been experimenting more and more with using off camera flash aided by the new Pocket Wizards.  I tried in a few shots to get some flash on a light stand behind the subject to simulate sunlight hitting from behind.  I also used a second flash a lot at the reception itself to give some more interesting lighting.  If you enjoy these pictures or have any comments about them please let me know below.

Light coming through the walls at Peanut Warehouse - Conway River Walk
Bride backlit with flash - Conway River Walk

Read post and view pictures Wedding reception at the Conway River Walk