Shelley Paulson Photography Blog – Minnesota Equine, Wedding and Portrait Photographer
  • September9th

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    The best weddings are those that are a reflection of the couple’s personalities. Nick and Merrisa’s wedding was SO MUCH FUN, because they are SO MUCH FUN! :)

    I feel like the word “honored” is a word I overuse when blogging, but what better word is there for how I feel when a couple flies me out to their home town to photograph their wedding? Merrisa is a photographer and a horse lover and had followed my work for awhile. In fact, when she was in photography school, she interviewed me for a project!

    I brought along my trusty second photographer and great friend, Tiff, and we made a fun long weekend of visiting Cape Cod. We have many fun memories, both from this wedding and from our explorations! Including at the end when I accidentally left my camera bag sitting in the road at the airport pickup area. Someone turned it in right away and no harm was done, but I may have added to my grey hair count that day by about double. ;)

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    Merrisa and her girlfriends are so close. I really enjoyed just being around them all morning during the getting ready process.

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    Beauty!

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    I have a crush on Merrisa’s veil.

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    I sent Tiff over to photograph the guys. Things got a little crazy – like grooming the groom’s beard with a very sharp sword! Thankfully Tiff has brothers and wasn’t too phazed by it. ;)

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    Transferring vows to more convenient note cards. These cards will come back into play a bit later.

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    This is a great photo by Tiff of Merrisa’s dad wiping tears after seeing his daughter as a bride for the first time.

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    So girls get to carry bouquets down the aisle, so why can’t guys carry knives? (The knives were their groomsman gifts)

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    So many smiles!

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    Liam was about the cutest little ring bearer I’ve seen! He kept stealing the show that day!

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    The ceremony was originally to be outside, but heavy rain days before, and even that morning meant a change of plans.

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    Merrisa’s mom was their officiant and she told about how Nick and Merrisa have been together since high school and are very close and very much in love. Merrisa has a tattoo that says “I hate you” which is actually how Nick and Merrisa say “I love you.”

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    When it was Nick’s turn to say his vows, he would read a card, and then toss it into the air. It made everyone laugh!

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    Lovey dovey…

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    Real life… Hahaha!

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    Nick has some pretty amazing moves…

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    When the best man got to the end of his toast, he realized he didn’t have a glass, so they handed him a salad and he toasted with that!

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    Fun continued into the reception – where they did a thing where each table passed around a dollar, and the person who ended up with it had to dance up to the couple and drop it into a hat.

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    He lived up to each and every one of his duties!

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  • August20th

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    Note: I did a winter engagement session for these two in Minnesota, but instead of doing two blog posts, I put some of my favorites from that session at the end of this post. :)

    Spring came late to Kansas City this year, but I didn’t mind when the timing worked out perfectly that the Magnolia trees near where they held their ceremony were perfectly in bloom. It was a beautiful parallel for these two. Sammy and Naomi met when they were still in high school, became friends, and eventually fell in love. Their love now in full bloom, was beautiful to watch as they wed on that lovely spring afternoon.

    My favorite weddings are those that are a celebration, not just of the couple, but of the people who love them and make their lives richer. This was one of those weddings…

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    The ceremony was held at Christ Community in the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City.

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    Photo by Deborah, my wonderful second photographer for the day.

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    Probably my favorite shoe shot ever. I love the way the light coming through the stained glass added color and dimension.

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    Such a beautiful color palette.

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    Photo by Deborah

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    Photo by Deborah

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    I think her dress was just magnificent!

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    The reception was held at The Stanley, a beautifully restored historic building in downtown Lee’s Summit.

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    When Finney gave Naomi flowers she picked up off the floor, my heart melted…

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    Sammy and Naomi traveled up to Minnesota for engagement photos. Of course it was 12 degrees at the warmest the day we did the session. Thankfully, half of it was inside. They were troopers!

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  • August15th

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    It’s no secret I love silhouettes. My favorites are the ones I can make against the beauty of a colorful sunset! I’ve spent years learning how to use these skies to my advantage, but I thought I would save you the time and just tell you how I do it. :)

    Step one: Know the Sky

    I am a student of light. I never stop studying it for color, direction, quality, quantity, etc. I watch the sky most evenings, even when I don’t have a camera in hand. I make mental notes about when the late day light gets it’s most golden and soft, and also when the skies light up with color and what conditions lead up to a colorful sky. I can usually tell when a good sunset is about to happen because there are usually some kind of cloud arrangement happening that will reflect the color of the sun after it has gone down. Sometimes I’m wrong, because the sky can change so quickly, but the more you observe the sky, the better you will get at anticipating what it might do.

    Step two: Find a hill, or get low

    In order to photograph subjects against the sky, you need to get them so they are visible against the lightest area of the sky. This usually means finding a hill with a clearing behind, or lying on the ground, or both, in the case of this photo. I was in a ditch, and my subjects were on a driveway. Ideally, I would love to see their shapes all the way down to their feet, but this was the best I could do at this location.

    Step three: Place subject in a clear spot

    Related to the last step, I had to find a spot where there was an opening to the sky. If I set them against the trees, I would not be able to see their shapes against a sky. I am very specific about where people stand for silhouettes!

    Step four: Expose for the sky

    This is probably the part I see most people miss when trying to make a silhouette. Point your camera at the sky and adjust your camera settings until the sky is metered correctly. I don’t want any light on my subjects – they should be completely black! I want the sky to be exposed without any overexposed areas. I use the highlight alert on my camera, which makes overexposed areas blink, to make sure I have no “blinkies” and have a correct exposure. As you can see in my settings, my shutter was at 1/3200. I could have lowered my ISO even more, but my camera is very clean a ISO 400, and I had a good exposure, so I worked with this. If anything, I would rather UNDEREXPOSE the sky than overexpose it. Why? Because a correctly exposed or slightly underexposed image will retain MUCH more color than an overexposed one.

    Step five: Set white balance to Shade

    This is my big secret! I set my white balance to shade to make the sky warm and colorful!

    Step six: Pose for shapes

    To me, silhouettes are made interesting by making good shapes. Because I cannot see any detail in my subject’s skin, I cannot see her expression. If Olivia was looking at me, all we would see would be the outline of her head – not very interesting! So for people, I almost always have them in profile to me for a silhouette. For horses, there are more interesting shapes than just profile. I have a lot of profile images in this series, but chose this one because I like that I can see all four legs, both ears forward, tail up, and his right eye.

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    This second image shows how I would process this image to bring out the color. In Lightroom, I balanced the exposure, added some contrast through the Tone Curve, corrected for lens distortion, and added overall vibrance to the image.

    I hope this has been a helpful tip and that you have an epic sunset soon so you can try it out for yourself!