Personal Update: Winter Rest

So here I am, starting this blog post from a local coffee shop on a below-freezing day in March, with snow still on the ground outside. The forsythias and tree flower buds are shriveling up after beginning to bloom in the unusual warmth of February.

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This whole crazy winter has got me thinking about growth, rest, and change – about what happens when the “rest” season is too short, both in nature and in life. When the bulbs aren’t cold for long enough, they might not bloom in the spring. Tulip bulbs (I recently learned) put down roots from November to March before ever pushing their green shoots out of the ground.

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In my business, I’m thinking about how to rest to serve my clients better – whether that means eating healthy food and sleeping well leading up to their wedding so that I have maximum energy on their day, or resting long-term during the winter season and working on my business and its systems so that I am more prepared to make clients’ experience great in the year to come!

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Some of my favorite winter nights have involved our circle of friends, a potluck of dishes that may or may not go together perfectly, some drinks, and just being together. Other favorite nights have been just staying at home with Tom, eating snacks and having a “sleepover” on our living room rug with our camping sleeping bags and the cats scampering around us all night, watching movies on the iPad until we fall asleep to the lull of the heater.

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On days when I’ve worked ahead enough to take a daytime work break to cook or bake, I’ve been making chicken bone broth with roast chicken bones and celery, carrot, and onion bits and pieces I’ve saved up in a bag after trimming the vegetables for other recipes. Other days I make quiches with our chickens’ fresh eggs (it can be hard to not eat them long enough to save up for a 12-egg quiche)! I love sautéing whatever onions, bacon, and green veggies we have available and baking them up with the eggs.

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Now it’s your turn – tell me about your favorite ways you’ve spent this winter, with friends or at home, resting or working hard – and I’ll be over here getting prepped for all the fun weddings and shoots that are coming up with the warmer weather!

Kimchi Making with Maketribe @ Baltimore’s R House w/ B Willow

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I had the fun opportunity to photograph Maketribe‘s latest event at R House – kimchi making with Chef B of Dinner on Demand. She and her husband are personal chefs who meal prep and cook for a wide variety of Baltimore clients! Chef B had such a fun energy as she taught us about her Korean heritage and the meaning and methods behind Kimchi. To set the atmosphere, B.Willow decorated the event space with the coolest little plants! (They also just opened a storefront in their own place, yay!) Definitely check out R House if you’re local or passing through. You’ll have the hardest time deciding which foods and drinks to try!

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My Gear Bag: Cameras, Lenses, Flashes, Straps, USBs!

I feel like this post is long overdue – now you’ll know what I have in my bag (as of Spring 2017)! I use a lot of photographer jargon in this post, so if anything is confusing, just drop me a line at hello@labirdiephotography.com and I’ll be happy to answer any questions! This is all the gear I have found to be very helpful while photograph weddings, people, and small businesses.

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Camera bodies! I use currently use a Canon 5D Mark IV and a Canon 5D Mark III as backup, or my second camera body. I am very happy with the Mark III. It does well in low light (but apparently not as well as the 5D Mark IV – I just bought it and have yet to shoot enough with it to judge it). Both models have a dual card slot. I consider the dual card slot essential for professionals, because it ensures that you’re keeping your clients’ photos as secure as possible by always having the files in at least two places, from the very moment you snap the photo!

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Lenses! Lenses are one of the most important parts of my gear collection. I chose prime lenses for their low aperture capabilities and sharpness. My core lenses are the Canon 50mm 1.4, Sigma 35mm 1.4 (apparently sharper and definitely less expensive than its Canon counterpart), and the Canon 135mm 2.0. I sometimes use the Sigma 24mm 1.4 for extra-wide shots and the Canon 100mm 2.8 for macro shots.

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If I had to only use one lens on a shoot, it would be the 50mm 1.4. Its length is great for causing little distortion and for creating a blurred background to help keep focus on the subject.

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The 35mm 1.4 is a close second-favorite lens. I often shoot with two camera bodies, especially at weddings, and some combination of the 50, 35, and 135 are usually on my camera bodies! The 35mm is great for couples (or larger groups) because it deepens the focus plane a bit without loosing the beautiful, blurry background.

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I don’t know what I ever did without the 135mm 2.0. I always, always use it during wedding ceremonies and during parties/receptions to be able to take authentic candids without people feeling like a camera is invading their space. I love to compose a shot around an person or two and just wait for them to laugh! This is one of the ways I get natural candids. Not to mention, the 135 makes beautiful couple portraits too and gives them a little extra space to just be with one another, since I’m farther away.

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Flashes! I use Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes. They are awesome because they sync wirelessly, which makes it easy for me to photograph receptions more naturally by having one flash on my camera, pointed at 45 degrees to bounce off the ceiling and walls, and another flash on a stand, high enough to not be too invasive to the guests’ experience when it flashes. I’ll write a full post about why I am so thankful I started bringing an off-camera flash to weddings soon!

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Bags and accessories! On wedding days, I use an Ona backpack (for cameras and lenses, and smaller things like extra batteries and memory cards), a small Ona shoulder bag (for water, medicine, snacks, and other personal essentials), and a long, narrow Manfrotto bag (for my flashes, flash stand, rechargable AA batteries, and other lighting accessories). For small business or portrait sessions, I usually use my smaller Ona bag and pack 1-2 bodies, my 3 favorite lenses (50, 35, and 135), and no flashes, since I schedule these shoots around the day’s sunrise and sunset times.

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A few of my favorite accessories are the Magmod flash diffusers and the Holdfast double strap. The Magmod gear lets me bounce my off-camera flash widely without an umbrella (which I wouldn’t mind, but they are much more obvious and bulky). The Holdfast strap lets me wear one camera on each side and balances out the weight, which definitely helps my back on long wedding days!

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I also use two 128GB memory cards per camera. They are expensive, but I love them because by having all the day’s RAW files go to two 128GB cards, I never have to switch cards, miss a beat, or worry about the photos all being in one place. I normally don’t even open my camera’s card slot until I’m home from a wedding and about to put the photos on my hard drives!

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Speaking of hard drives, I work off of Transcend 1TB portable drives from my Macbook Pro (hooked up to a monitor when I’m in the office), and back each of these 1TB drives up to 3TB Lacie drives. This system has consistently worked well for me! I also end my photo workflow by uploading each final set of edited JPG photos to Smugmug, where my clients can view their gallery and easily share the photos with family and friends. I also send wedding clients a pretty custom USB from USB Memory Direct so that they have another copy of the files.

I hope this post was helpful to you! Again, just drop me a line at hello@labirdiephotography.com if you have more questions, and I’ll be happy to answer ASAP!