Speedliter's Blog is thrilled to feature epic engagement photos by St. Louis based photographer Zach Dalin. Zach combines his creativity, technical expertise, and cutting edge tools to create dramatic and cinematic images for his clients. This shoot took place at The Wheel at St. Louis Union Station, a recently installed ferris wheel in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.
The goal for this engagement session was to showcase the client and wheel in dramatic wide angle shots as well as portray their love and emotion with tighter, more intimate frames. Here is how Zach accomplished his goal and impressed his clients!
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LIGHT: Zach encourages photographers to experiment with flash, specifically off camera flash. For lighting, he favors the impeccable Profoto B10 AirTTL lights. Profoto is known for combining premium quality, reliability, and simplicity in their products and the B10 is no exception. If you need more power than a speedlite (3-4x) and your budget allows, you will not regret purchasing a B10. Check out this Shotkit page for a candid review of the B10. To soften the light from the B10, Zach used the MagMod MagBox. Zach says the MagBox is one of the best on location modifiers you can buy because of its ease of assembly - everything attaches, and detaches, easily and securely with magnets.
CAMERA: Last but certainly not least, Zach brought his 30 megapixel Canon EOS R camera body. The mirrorless technology of the EOS R, including touch screen auto focus, helped Zach quickly create sharp, beautiful images.
ISO: As you may know, low ISO will produce cleaner images, Zach stayed as close to 100 as possible, especially for signature shots. But he crept up to 640 in a couple of photos to better capture the colors and lights of the ferris wheel.
SHUTTER SPEED: Since Zach is shooting at night, he needs to allow as much light as possible to hit his camera sensor. If his sensor does not see enough light, the ferris wheel will disappear into the dark background. To accomplish this, he'll use slower shutter speeds, even getting as slow as 0"6 seconds (.6 seconds). Using a flash with slow shutter speeds is referred to as "dragging the shutter." You might think that this would cause a blurry image, but the flash the light actually freezes the subject. Zach used a tripod to ensure that his background remains sharp.
APERTURE: Zach used a wide range of aperture, between F2.8 and F8 during this shoot. When he wanted a blurry background, bokeh, he used F2.8 and when he wanted the ferris wheel to be more in focus he used F8.
FLASH: Zach used TTL on the Profoto B10 to get a base exposure and then changed to manual mode to dial in to the exact exposure he wanted.
For this shot, Zach created drama and definition by putting his flash at a 45 degree angle to the subject. The goal of this shot was big, wide, dramatic, showing the couple in the whole scene.
SETTINGS: 0"6 sec at F/8.0, ISO 100
For the next shot, Zach wanted the ferris wheel to feel very large behind the couple so he used a zoom lens, his Canon EF 70-200 2.8 L. Shooting with a zoom lens creates "compression" and makes the subject and background appear close together - The subject looks like they're right by the ferris wheel.
SETTINGS: 1/80 sec at F/3.2, ISO 640
The goal for this image was zoom in to 200mm, get some gorgeous compression and bokeh from the string lights and background elements. The focus was on the couple and Zach wanted the rest of the scene to melt away with creamy bokeh. With a 70-200mm lens you can get in close and "tight" to your subject to showcase emotion and a more intimate scene.
SETTINGS: 1/60 sec at F/2.8, ISO 640
Post production tasks included removing passers by, dodging and burning to bring out the subject, and extra motion was added to the ferris wheel for visual interest. Additional toning was applied to give the photos a polished look and feel. For post production, Zach uses Evolve Edits, a post production house based in O’Fallon, Illinois. They provide standard color correction services as well as advanced retouching to create more artistic/cinematic imagery. Their 3-5 day turn around allows Zach to show the images to the client fast, providing a high-end experience.