And we’re back!

We are finally updating our blog after a long time but because of a very valid reason. We recently became parents to a beautiful and healthy baby boy and have been engrossed in taking care of his every little whim and fancy. We also covered a South Asian wedding recently, a first for us. Sandhya & Rishikesh got married on Nov. 19th, 2010 in a ceremony seeped in tradition which showcased the vibrant South Indian culture.  Even though we covered the wedding from 8am onwards, the bride and groom were up since 5am for all the various rituals that lead up to the actual wedding ceremony.

And here’s the wedding slideshow of Sandhya and Rishikesh’s South Indian wedding!

There was a time when independent filmmakers searched left, right and center for a way to create the elusive “film-look” with footage captured from consumer level video cameras. The methods to achieve this sought after look were a million and one yet the results were less than satisfying; an abomination of the original video. You might be wondering how I know all this and the simple truth is that my own ambition almost a decade ago was to elevate Hi-8 and Mini DV video to pristine quality.

As a filmmaker and storyteller I know that content is king, yet many a time I used to figure out ways to deliver top notch production values (the film-look!) no matter how simple or complex the project may have been. I now realize that it would have been an easier task to hunt down the Loch Ness monster than to try and make average videos look like epic, cinematic masterpieces.

Lo and behold, the revolution brought in by Digital SLRs featuring hi-def video recording capabilities has made filmmakers such as myself dreaming up new story ideas and bringing to fruition the ones which have been gathering dust in the recesses of the mind in order to get the most out of these powerful, HD video churning beasts. Before stepping into professional photography, it was necessary for me to upgrade from my faithful Nikon D40 to a mid-range, technologically advanced DSLR. And in November of 2009, that camera arrived at my doorstep in the form of a Nikon D300s; it’s been photos and videos galore since then!

This short feature focuses on San Francisco and showcases this multi-faceted city through dynamic visuals that flow to the classical music of Giovanni Allevi, a maestro of current times from Italy. The final cut presented here is the sum of footage shot on and off over the span of five months. A still photo sequence mid-way also keeps things interesting. Here it is:

Many of the shots have only been given basic treatment (contrast enhancement and color correction) while others have fanciful effects applied to them. The quality of the footage is varied; from the auto exposure laden shots of my early days with the camera to the more refined and experimental shots of latter days.

Now on to the nitty-gritty of what the Nikon D300s is good for and what it giganormously sucks at when it comes to video recording:

+ HD video at 24 frames per second; motion picture standard so you can compete with Hollywood
+ Interchangeable lenses allow for immense creative freedom
+ MJPEG compression yields good video and translates into easy to view files
+ I own one?

– No autofocus! Takes a toll on one’s patience while shooting continuous action
– Auto exposure out of the box gives a lovely, amateur feel to your videos (solution here)
– Rolling shutter dilemma; the infamous jello effect when shooting handheld
– Mono mic is inferior to stereo sound recorded by current point and shoot cams
– Noise can easily creep in during low light situations
– Not the best ergonomics for shooting video when coupled with hefty lenses

Gear + Software used:

> Nikon D300s
> Tamron 18-270mm/3.5-6.3
> Nikkor 50mm/1.8
> Lexar Platinum II 16GB SDHC
> Sony Vegas Pro 9.0 64-bit
> Windows 7 Premium 64-bit

* Shabbir *

So we finally had the opportunity to shoot a ‘Trash the Dress’ session with Lien, our trooper of a volunteer bride, along with her husband Robert at Baker Beach in San Francisco, CA. A form of photography, ‘Trash the Dress’ concerns the bride taking her expensive wedding dress and subjecting it to some kind of distress; all the while wearing it! The contrast created by the elegant dress and the environment in which it is being photographed, coupled with the zaniness of the concept, is what makes it interesting for photographers.

With the ever present fog keeping the sun out, the photo shoot still turned out to be a memorable one as we waded knee-deep in cold, sea water and directed Lien in trashing her dress. If there was anything we learned on this shoot, it was to throw up our hands in the air with each crashing wave in order to keep our cameras safe from getting a bath.:) Here are selected images from Lien’s ‘Trash the Dress’ session.

Weather has always played an important role for photographers specializing in wedding photography; outdoor portrait sessions do turn out to be more pleasant with Mother Nature’s cooperation and some sunshine. Then, there are days when one has to go against all odds to get the job. On May 28th, 2010, in the middle of a heavy downpour, we shot the wedding of Karen and Joost at the San Francisco City Hall.

As the wedding ceremony and reception was a small yet elegant affair, the couple decided to do the portrait session at some beautiful locations around the city. The day started off at the Legion of Honor, a museum displaying a collection of ancient and European art with breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge; when not enveloped in dense fog that is. After the museum we headed off to the oldest San Francisco landmark: The Palace of Fine Arts. An artistic wonder built after 1906, The Palace of Fine Arts served as a stunning background for the couple as it was fenced off for renovations at the time and there was nary a visitor in sight.

The San Francisco City Hall is a favorite among couples looking for a quick civil ceremony to bind them in Holy Matrimony. The historic architecture inside and out has served the community for more than eighty years. The wedding ceremony for Karen and Joost was held at the fourth floor gallery, a serene and cozy place filled with sunlight coming through a huge window above. We observed on Karen and Joost’s special day that no matter how big the venue is, nothing compares to the intimacy of sharing a precious moment in life in the company of friends and loved ones at the San Francisco City Hall. Even with the weather not being on our side, it turned out to be a perfect day after all!

On a warm day in May, at the beautiful  private residence of the Janzens in Fresno, California, we captured the wonderful wedding of Antoinette and Uthman Nkosi. Apart from family and friends, an entourage of bridesmaids and groomsmen witnessed sweet vows being exchanged by the couple and the emergence of the newly married Mr. and Mrs. Lockett.

As the couple is from the East Coast, the only interaction we had with them earlier was a telephonic conversation and an exchange of e-mails afterwards. So, it was a pleasure to meet both Antoinette and Nkosi for the first time on their wedding day; a day filled with many exuberant moments which were documented by us. The venue, with its many gardens, gave us a lot of creative freedom and served as an inspiration for the photo shoot.

Hats off to StarEvents who worked flawlessly to make the whole event a delightful affair.

When we first met Karen and Joost (and that also on the engagement shoot day) we clicked, no pun intended, instantly. Their personalities and positive energy made the shoot interesting and fun.  The outdoor shoot took place at the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in San Francisco, which was named for the late queen of Netherlands in 1962. The garden had a many different colored tulips in bloom and an authentic Dutch windmill provided a lovely background apart from reminding Joost of his homeland. We cannot wait to capture the couple’s wedding at end of May. A slideshow comprising of selected images from Karen and Joost’s engagement shoot follows. Happy viewing!

It is with great joy that we share with you photos of baby Vivienne Lena Elizabeth Dieterle alongside her doting family. Elizabeth, the excited mom, had asked us to take pictures of the newborn Vivienne even before her arrival into this world. We were keen on being introduced to the month old baby Vivienne and on a sunny albeit windy day, headed over to The Presidio of San Francisco where the family had gathered. The park provided a perfect background for the portrait session which lasted for just over an hour. Congrats to Elizabeth and Alexander!