First ever wedding on the grassy lawn at the Caravelle Resort and a rant about Myrtle Beach

I was told this is the first wedding they have held on the lawn behind the Caravelle Resort in Myrtle Beach. The reception later in the evening was at the St. John’s Inn across the street. I have done a wedding there before. I thought the lawn was quite a nice area, there was some shade from the large hotel building and there was plenty of trees around blocking things you might not want to see.  This was definitely one of the nicer behind the resort type wedding areas I’ve seen. They said if it worked out they were going to try more weddings at this location in the future.  I imagine they will be very happy with how it turned out.

Of course, I have my usual problem of it being in the city limits. I have a Myrtle Beach business license so I can work at locations such as this, but it’s still against the MB City laws to do any commercial work on the beach.  What I’ve been doing is just cautioning everyone not to do too much on the beach, doing some shots of the wedding party and couple, while keeping an eye out for the beach cops.  The resorts really need to work with the city to get something done about this law.  It seems like all the resorts encourage the breaking of it by not informing clients about the rules.  Who would imagine, unless someone tells them, that you could have a beach resort wedding and technically not be allowed on the beach sand.  It’s just a bad situation all around that I can’t comprehend.  I was at the Grande Dunes Ocean Club a while back.  They set up a wedding on the beach like I’ve been at many times before, and the cops came along and told them they had to clear everything off the beach.  How many people do you think would have weddings in the Myrtle Beach City limits if the first thing the resorts told them was that they can’t go down on the beach sand at all.  Of course they aren’t going to tell them that. So I always end up just risking a fine and doing some pictures on the beach anyway. Anyway, you can tell the whole thing is just ridiculous.

Anyway, enough of my rant about Myrtle Beach and the resorts.  I love the way at the St. John’s Inn they have the small lights stringed up along the ceiling. When you are using a really high end lens, like the 85mm f1.4 Nikon lens I was using in the dancing shots, it turns any small background lights into large rounded out of focus orbs.  It’s a great look for dancing.  You can take just about any room and string up some lights, and with the right lens you can make the background beautiful.  I hope you enjoy the pictures below, I uploaded a bunch of them this time.  Please like this post or comment below if you enjoy them. 

Read post and view pictures First ever wedding on the grassy lawn at the Caravelle Resort and a rant about Myrtle Beach

Some random things from April and how to shoot backlit subjects.

I always have trouble making blog posts when things start to get busier.  So I just wanted to post a few random pictures from this month. I decided to talk mostly about the first picture I highlighted below.  This was a very difficult situation, as soon as I saw where they were having the ceremony I knew it was going to be a problem.  The sun was very bright outside, almost fully up in the sky.  The ceremony was held under a beach shelter right on the edge of the bright sunlight.  If you have ever tried to photograph something like this before, you might know what would happen.  If you let the camera make the decisions, the couple would be almost completely dark because it’s trying to adjust for the bright background light.

I long ago started shooting on manual, so I would expose for the couple and not the background.  This way the camera’s own adjustments would not cause the subject to come out really dark.  However, there is still a problem.  If you just expose the couple properly, the background would then be completely blown out, it would just be a very bright glow behind the couple.  The couple would have kind of a flat, lifeless light on them with an annoyingly glowing background.

So how do you fix this? Well it really comes down to having the proper equipment.  I have these things called Pocket Wizards, they allow me to have a flash on the camera and also another flash off of the camera that is controlled by radio.  You can control another flash through  the built in infrared in the Nikon flashes, but it never works very well.  The Pocket Wizards work the same way, but they are much more reliable especially in sunlight.  Although you can let the flashes decide how much power they need to put out on their own, under this difficult lighting, I thought manual would be better.  I set my on camera flash (that had a tiny Lumiquest softbox on it) and my external flash both to 1/2 power, that seem to be a pretty good compensation for the outside ambient light without overdoing it.  If you notice in this picture, there is a nice light coming from the side of the couple that makes them look more three dimensional.  You can see some shadows from his hand and her arm, these are not from the sun but are from my external flash.

If this sounds too complicated, to make it more simple.  If you are trying to photograph a backlit subject in the shade, use whatever flash you have available, even just the little one on the camera.  Set your camera to manual and keep taking shots until you see the couple is as bright as they need to be.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below.

First kiss - Myrtle Beach State Park
That's a lot of groomsmen

Read post and view pictures Some random things from April and how to shoot backlit subjects.

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

Highlights from the first half of May

This is such a busy time of the year I can’t really post about each wedding on my blog, I just don’t have time.  But I wanted to highlight a few pictures from the last couple of weeks.  One was a wedding in Andrews, SC of the same bride featured in my previous blog post.  I’ve also included a few family and engagement portraits from the Myrtle Beach State Park.  I discovered a new spot for pictures I really like at the park, at least the way the light is right now.  It’s the drainage ditch for land runoff into the ocean.  You don’t want to get in that water, but it makes a really great background at sunset.

Another thing I’ve done at my last couple of weddings is display pictures from the ceremony on my iPad.  When I get a chance at the reception, I will load in a few pictures from earlier in the day and put them up in a slideshow.  This seems to go over really well, there was almost always a small group around the iPad looking at the pictures.  I’m going to try and start doing this from now on.

Another fun thing I’ve been doing, which I will have more pictures of later on, is working with the latest Pocket Wizard wireless flash triggers.  I’ve been good for a long time at seeing great light and making use of it.  But now I’m trying to get better at making good light myself, even under bad conditions, using multiple flashes.  The http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/ website is a great resource for really learning advanced flash techniques if you want to learn more.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below.

Groom leaning bride back for a kiss - Kingston Plantation
Kiss on the beach walkway faded color effect - Kingston Plantation

 

Read post and view pictures Highlights from the first half of May