You probably already know my friend Taylor’s story, and how far he and Danielle have come since first dating in 10th grade. And you also may (or may not) know that this is in fact their first and only wedding despite what your grandma’s chain email said… :) So the story I will tell today begins on a late summer day in 2014. Having waited 9 months with a ring hidden away, Taylor finally found the perfect quiet Sunday to surprise Danielle with a romantic picnic on his family’s acreage. He hid the ring in a pint of ice cream, which looking back was a memorable mistake. Danielle opened the tub of melted ice cream to find her engagement ring nearly drowning. In true Taylor and Danielle fashion they laughed it off, excited to finally make it official.
Fast forward to October 3rd, 2015. Having stayed in close contact with Danielle throughout the planning process, I can tell you, everything was in its place. The weather was perfect and their guests made it to Iowa from all around the world.
Danielle chose to get ready at her parents house in Cedar Falls. It made for a beautiful setting that Saturday morning, overlooking a serene cornfield.
As Taylor waited for Danielle to arrive for their first look, he took a quiet moment alone to write her a letter.
After their first look, the wedding party ran out to get a first glimpse of the bride and groom together. We have been encouraging more first looks lately, as they spur such genuine and candid moments to capture.
It was quite the wedding party! With 10 attendants on each side, we had to find wide open spaces to fit everyone in :)
The Morris’ property has so many scenic locations, this orchard included. Taylor’s dad has planted over 2000 trees in 20 years on their property!
And out of all of the trees, this one was struck by lightning earlier in the year but survived! I thought it was a fitting tribute to resilience.
Their reception was to be held at the Pipac Centre in Cedar Falls. We made a quick stop before the ceremony to continue pictures so we could make use of the stunning Italian villa inspired property.
The ceremony was held at Danielle’s family church, St Patricks in Cedar Falls. The classic architecture made for a timeless backdrop.
One of the highlights of their wedding was the one-of-a-kind handmade decor that Danielle orchestrated. She came up with so many crafty ideas that the handy Morris’ helped build her vision.
We snuck away for a quick “golden hour” shoot. The lighting was perfect! It was a gorgeous sunset for a gorgeous day.
Congrats Taylor and Danielle! We look forward to your future together!
It took me a decade into my career as a professional wedding photographer to fulfill a bucket list dream of shooting a European wedding. Shakiba and Sebastian gifted me with the opportunity of shooting their fairytale of a wedding in Germany this summer. And now, looking back, I’m not sure if it was the romantic 16th century estate, the winding garden paths or the incredible hospitality of new friends, but this wedding was every bit worth the 10 year wait.
When we arrived at Rittergut Grossgoltern outside of Hanover, Germany, we knew we hit a wedding jackpot. The property highlight is a beautiful estate complete with a moat, ivy-covered bridge, private gardens with trees as old as time, and a quaint little barn circled by apple trees.
Shakiba was relaxed and smiley as she got ready. The light pouring in through the french doors was a beautiful way to start the day.
Shakiba walked out of the hotel and into the courtyard where she took a special moment with her daughter and father. Poor Mila was fighting a cold, but she was excited to see her mom dressed up like a princess!
The ceremony took place in the yard behind the barn where they’d later transition for the reception. Shakiba handmade whimsical garlands that hung in the trees and took the backyard-style wedding from beautiful to magical.
Shakiba and Sebastian chose a Persian tradition of being showered with sweetness as happily married women rub sugar cones over the bride and groom’s heads.
And for our U.S. friends, take a page from Shakiba and Sebastian: The couple’s friends and family made speeches during the ceremony while everyone was attentive and engaged.
They walked out to bubbles and sunshine :)
The venue has room for two separate celebrations on the property. We briefly caught a glimpse of the other couple, which made for a fun interaction!
Together at last. We had no shortage of beautiful places to shoot on the grounds.
It was this shot, standing here next to this beautiful estate that made me light up on the inside. I think I said out loud something along the lines of, “This is a dream come true.” I had been dreaming of this exact opportunity for years.
We made our way around to the back where we found the gardens to be another endless photo opportunity.
After our photo session, we met back up with the guests and wedding party. Cocktails and horderves were being passed around. It was a beautiful evening. A refreshing 75 degrees with a gentle breeze. Perfect.
Another Shakiba and Sebastian ingenious idea: The couple wanted lanterns to hang from the old wood beams, but found the task too cumbersome. Instead, they chose large balloons that floated above the tables to fill the gap in ceiling height. The effect was perfect.
Aerial photography has become a pinnacle part of my photography for the past year. I love the perspective it offers. As you may recall if you read my review on the DJI Inspire 1, I’ve had a few multi rotors over the last year and it seems like there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution.
Having gone from a 550mm hexacopter to a 680mm hexacopter down to a DJI Inspire 1 quad copter, you’d think I’d have enough options for any situation. But what happens when you’re packing for a 3 week trip to Europe where size and weight is the primary concern but also want good image quality? What do you do? I plan to do a lot of hiking, will be carrying my camera gear (loaded up around 30 pounds) and also need to take my 22 pound space suit with me occasionally… so size and weight are of the upmost importance.
My goal was to fly my Canon EOS M, that weighs just under 400 grams (396) with the 22mm F2.0 lens, a battery and a memory card. I thought about just getting a phantom or a small quad with a built in camera instead, but those options left my soul utterly sad, so I kept searching. I had motors, props, a NAZA v2, and receiver from my first F550 that had wrecked, so I figure I should find a small frame that I could stuff those motors onto. After some exploring, my friend Ben Stineman from Rotor Visual discovered the DYS 320 folding quadcopter.
First, Ben got excited and and bought his own DYS 320 to play with and make sure our idea was feasible. Here it is on its maiden flight. As it shipped, it came with 6″ props on 2300 KV motors with 20A ESC’s. This would be great for a racer (which I might buy another one to do), but I needed a heavy lifter. So out with the old, in with the new.
Here’s the mad scientist, Ben, working away on our little franken-quad.
And inside this 17.8″ x 6″ x 12.8″ box fits EVERYTHING I need for my portable aerial photography solution.
BAM! Folding antennas, think not! Let’s call these retractible, lightweight, folding landing gear! We had to drill in further on the slots to get the slots to line up with the motor mounts, but that was fairly quick.
And here it is all mounted up with a Canon EOS M. I didn’t have a banana for scale, so I put it next to this 1/72 scale model of the Apollo capsule. So to get an idea of it’s size, just imagine that Apollo model 72 times bigger, then picture it next to it…
AUW of 1286 grams… not bad. That will go up 100 grams more when we fly with the 3700mah battery, and we’re going to use 8060 props on that as well. With that combo we should get almost a 10 minute flight time! As is, we’re getting around 6 or 7 minutes of light flying.
So, for now this is our only video of it… haha we used the battery that we had been setting up the NAZA on, so it was pretty much dead already. I do promise you, it does fly, and fairly well… I’ve put 3 flights on but am saving it knowing it will inevitably come down in a terrifying manner. Just trying to get good use out of it until then…
And here you have it, one happy (or scared?) aerial photographer, ready for Europe!
Here I am. April 2015 looking back at 2014. I’m sitting at the airport waiting to catch a plane to Asia as I begin my 4 week journey through 4 countries with a non-profit effort, Global Populace. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but how can it get better from here? I had un unbelievable year last year, and I’m looking forward to an even more exciting 2015. In 2014, I developed my series “Everyday Astronaut”, shot my first wedding outside of the United States (Ethiopia), and shot 7 weddings out of Iowa as well. I’m excited to share with you a few of my favorite pictures from 2014.
Quick note, this post is also the debut of my new logo/watermark! Thanks to my incredibly talented friend, Sara Fitzgerald (Quirk Creative) for the fun, new look!
Not in any order, but 2014 marked the start of my “Everyday Astronaut” series. I obtained a Russian space suit in November of 2013, and come spring 2014, I started shooting my first two series. The series was well received and was featured on many popular websites around the world. Flickr even flew me out to NYC for an interview as I was featured as their Artist of the Week.
Keep up with Everyday Astronaut on Instagram @EverydayAstronaut
To see more photos from each shoot featured in this post, visit Tim Dodd Photography’s page on Facebook here.
To those of you who frequent my website, this post might seem a little out of your interest, but this post is for you. I want you to be excited about what’s happening right now, what it means for the future of spaceflight, and how today’s technology is fulfilling 1950’s sci-fi imaginations.
You don’t have to go far in my portfolio to witness my recent obsession with space. Whether it be my Everyday Astronaut series (Instagram), seeing pictures from one of the four launches I’ve attended in the past year, or just seeing me on the streets wearing NASA shirts every day, it’s pretty obvious. But why now? The space shuttle is gonzo, the United States is buying seats for their astronauts from Russia, and the Orion/SLS program really has nowhere to go. But here’s why: we’re at a huge turning point and things are about to get AWESOME.
If you haven’t heard of Elon Musk and his crazy rocket company, SpaceX, welcome to 2015, you’ve been asleep for the past 10 years. His 12 billion dollar rocket company is currently on contract with NASA, sending supplies up to the international space station (ISS). SpaceX also won one of two contracts to send US astronauts up to the ISS in 2017. It’s a pretty big deal that a private company is doing what used to take entire nations.
But here’s where it’s about to get crazy….
They’re attempting to land the first section of their 20 story tall Falcon 9 rocket vertically on a huge boat in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Why is this important? If you’ve ever wondered why space exploration is so expensive, it’s because every traditional rocket ever flown (not the Space Shuttle) is discarded in the Atlantic ocean. That makes spaceflight extremely expensive. Elon Musk compares it to throwing away an airplane after each flight. If that were the case, no one could afford to fly today.
January 14, 2015, SpaceX made their first attempt of landing on their Automated Spaceport Barge Ship (ASDS). It sadly got misconstrued by the media as a crash landing, a failure, or a “waste of taxpayers money.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. SpaceX has been developing this technology on their own dollar and brilliantly testing their landing procedures after the primary mission has been fulfilled. In other words, they got hired to get something into space, as long as that is completed, they can do whatever they want with the remnants. So while customers are paying them to launch a payload into orbit, they’ve been attempting to land the first part of the rocket back on earth, virtually free of additional cost.
Despite how violent this looks, it’s actually a huge success. It doesn’t take much beyond the raw numbers to understand how incredible even hitting the barge is. The rocket is at 300,000 feet traveling at over 4,000 mph when it begins its decent. It does three precisely controlled burns on it’s way down to maneuver and control its descent. The Falcon 9 v1.1 is fitted with landing legs and control fins to help steer the rocket on decent. To hit something the size of a football field without wings while traveling at mach 6 from that altitude is simply amazing. They would have probably made a successful soft landing if they hadn’t run out of the hydraulic fluid that powered the control fins. Without the control fins, they were unable to maintain a stable vertical position and therefore couldn’t control the landing.
So not only have they had to develop a whole new system for landing a rocket, they also needed to invent a way to land a rocket far away from population and return it. Seeing as NASA/Cape Canaveral aren’t too keen on having companies shooting 13 story missiles at their base, they’re required to make a successful landing or two out at sea before they’re given permission to try to land on the ground.
This brings us to what I think might be one of the most underrated and most unusual developments the space program has seen in a long time. The Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS). Elon Musk lovingly named it “Just Read the Instructions,” after Iain M. Banks’ Sci-Fi book, “The Player of Games.” This 300 x 170 foot barge is held stable by 4 stabilizers that can keep it level and steady even in massive waves.
Space X has only attempted one landing attempt in January on the barge to date. They had another opportunity in February with the launch of DSCOVR, but unfortunately, with 30 foot waves, they deemed it too dangerous to attempt a landing. Ever since then, rumor has it they have been outfitting the ship with more serious stabilizers to keep it steady in even the most extreme conditions.
Their next landing attempt will be with CRS-6, currently slated for April 13th. You’d better believe I’ll be glued to the webcast and to www.spaceflightnow.com waiting to hear if it landed.
SpaceX thinks all this effort will be worth it. They hope that by proving a rocket can be reusable, they can reduce the cost 1/10th! That would be massive. I’m excited knowing we’re getting close to a new era of spaceflight — one that is so commonplace it’s exciting again. A future where we expect to hear about exciting launches happening every day to distant places in our solar system and constant trips to low earth orbit. Soon the well off will be able to purchase flights to space hotels. It might be another 30 years, but with companies like SpaceX taking it into their own hands, we really might be on the right path.
I keep meaning to post reviews about my gear. I’ve been lucky enough to shoot years with some of the best lenses in the world. I hold strong opinions on them and rarely does that opinion make it beyond my own inner dialogue.
This time I’m doing it right away. This morning, March 3rd, 2015, I got that ever exciting knock on the door from my Fed-Ex guy. In his hands was a much bigger box than I had envisioned. What lies within it is Canon’s newest drool-worthy lens, the 11-24mm F4L.
Quick note: I’m not here to give you the exact technical run down. I’m going to tell you what my thoughts as a working professional are on this lens. I will interject my opinions on when to use it and how I see myself using it here forth. If you’re looking for MTF charts and barrel distortion tests, you won’t find it here. If you want to see REAL LIFE examples when using this lens compared to the Canon 14mm F2.8L and the 24mm F1.4L, you’re right at home, read on.
Immediately, I was stunned by the sheer size of the box. There’s no way a lens with a maximum focal length of 24mm’s could take up this big of a box… right?
Woah. Holy Cow. Ok, it IS that big.
Lo and behold this thing is just simply a beast. It dwarfs other L lenses of similar focal length in both weight and overall size. According to Canon, the weight is 2.6 pounds (1.18 Kg). That is almost double the weight of the Canon 14mm F2.8L, which weighs in at 1.42 (645 grams). As a matter of fact, it weighs nearly the same as the two lenses I was hoping to replace in my bag when doing travel photography, the 14mm F2.8L and the 24mm F1.4L.
About that weight and size, it feels great. My 5D MK III feels well weighted and the lens fits great in your hands. It’s a little more front heavy than you’d expect, probably due to that massive front element.
The rear element supports drop in gel filters. This is due to the large and odd shape of the front element.
Putting the 11-24 on a Canon EOS M is a hilarious proposition. As you can see in the above picture, the 14mm (which used to look huge) now looks comically small. The 11-24 feels proportional (although massive) on the 5D MK III but it looks downright silly on the EOS M.
The zoom ring and focus ring are EXTRA tight, which I LOVE. Knowing how the tightness wears out after a few years of good use, the tighter it is day 1, the better for me. It leads to easy liveview focusing when you’re trotting around trying to dial in focus perfectly.
Autofocus is your typical Ultrasonic motor fast. Nothing extra spectacular here, but first impressions it seems to nail focus much more accurately than the 14mm F2.8L, which you’ll see in a few upcoming examples.
So what’s 14mm actually look like compared to 11mm? Let’s see…
So, the 14mm appears to out resolve the 11-24mm in the corners, but how about the center? To be honest, this could’ve been down to my manual focus abilities in liveview. Regardless, let’s peek at the center.
Again, to be honest, this could be down to my manual focus abilities, but they both appear pretty excellent in the center. The 11-24 does an excellent job of controlling fringing/chromatic aberration. You can clearly see in the railings against the white sky a lack of any additional color on the edges.
What about compared to my truest work horse, the 24mm F1.4L II? It can’t possibly hold up against one of Canon’s sharpest lenses, can it?
Before we move onto the crops of these two photos, notice the 24mm F1.4L appears to have a little more barrel distortion compared to the 11-24. I’m very surprised by this. Canon seems to have tamed the distortion very well on the zoom.
So, it seems to really fare well against two of Canon’s best wide angle primes, the 24mm F1.4L II and the 14mm F2.8L II. This is important when I consider packing a bag for two weeks of travel in Europe. My biggest fear would be compromising image quality for an all-in-one solution. When I’m doing travel photography, F stop is less relevant than in portrait/event photography. I use a tripod often, and I can hold the shutter open long enough that the F4 doesn’t faze me as much. Knowing the extra “legs” the lens has with its 11mm focal length is worth the drops in F stops. It’s something I can’t achieve elsewhere.
Notice the 11mm is so wide it’s even getting the edge of the building I’m standing NEXT to! I did not expect to see that building in my shot. It’s insanely wide. So wide, it will be impossible to get people out of your shot sometimes.
Due to the cloud movement, we have to ignore exposure a little bit. BUT, the 11mm still appears to have a decent amount of vignetting visible. Luckily for us, vignetting is easy to fix, and sometimes even a little desirable. Once Canon has a lens profile for this lens, they’ll be able to fix the inherent vignette so you don’t have to even worry about it in post.
Another side note is all of these shots were using autofocus on the same point (just above the center). This was to show how accurate the autofocus was right out of the box. I’ve tried to dial in the 14mm F2.8L II many times and have always struggled with beyond 20 feet accuracy. It looks like the 11-24 hit focus much better than the 14mm.
(Update: 4/15/2015) After a few months of shooting with the 11-24, I can confirm at F4 it has pretty severe vignetting at 11mm. Again, lucky for us, vignetting is very easy to fix. See below examples:
So to sum up: Canon has produced a lens that’s as sharp or sharper than its prime counterparts. Although slower (F stop wise). It has chromatic aberration and distortion well under control. Vignetting is probably its biggest fault. But, that’s probably the easiest thing to have fixed in post, so I’m not shaken by that.
It’s a heavy, big lens that might be intimidating to some. It’s very front heavy–so heavy in fact it fell out of my shoulder bag already…
I’ll be using this lens primarily for architectural and real estate shoots. It’ll also be a travel companion, although I don’t use wide angle lenses for my landscape shots. It also won’t replace my 24mm F1.4L for weddings and events because I need the additional brightness of the prime. There’s just too many times that I’m hand holding at F1.4, ISO 3200, 1/50th of a second and I have NO room for a slower F stop, let alone a lens that lets in 8 times less light.
In case you don’t know how the F-stop scale works, going from F1.4 to F2.0 is half as much light. From F2.0 to F2.8 is another half, and again going from F2.8 to F4.0. So again, I won’t be replacing my F1.4 with an F4 any time soon. But going out to 11mm is unheard of, and because of that, it will have a place in my bag.
Let me know if you’d like me to do a review on anything else you see in my gear bag on Instagram.