By Taniesha Robinson
4:05 PM EDT, July 24, 2013
On their wedding day, Jonathan Buckley and his wife, Brandi, stood on the grand staircase of San Francisco City Hall, where Brandi's grandparents married nearly 70 years before. Everything about their day paid homage to the town they would together call home: Brandi's dress, the limo service and even the technology they'd use to capture the day in photos. As they gazed into each other's eyes, their photographer aimed and shot — with an iPhone 4S.
More than 500 photos of the Buckleys were taken that day solely with an iPhone. Later, the Buckleys' photographer, Kim Thomas, added effects mostly with Instagram filters and delivered more than 100 images to the couple.
"The very next evening we had a mini reception of 40 to 50 people, and we had iPads set up in picture-frame mode around the room with all the photographs," Buckley says. Soon afterward, hundreds in their social network would browse through the photos online.
Digital and mobile photography has enabled what is perhaps the biggest trend in photography today – sharing images shortly after they're taken. Now, the immediacy has transferred to the editing process. "Being able to use the Instagram filter is really, really quick," Thomas says. "You don't have to spend hours and hours trying to get the right look for your photo."
Thomas used the Amaro and Rise Instagram filters for most of the Buckleys' images to create a warm, vintage look. Amaro adds a blue-toned, aged appearance while Rise softens images with a golden glow. Thomas' eye homed in on the couple's chemistry, the hall's lighting and architecture, to produce her enchanting photos.
Lighting, composition and the moment of action are the key elements of any wedding photograph with or without effects, says British Columbia-based photographer Kelsey Goodwin. "If you have those three things then you can do whatever filter you want," Goodwin says. "Once in a while, a mediocre image can be pushed into greatness with a little bit of editing help, but it's a fine line."
Stunning effects and filters, however, are not limited to pics snapped with smartphone apps. Here are some of the most stylish photography trends:
Textured photography has a design overlay that gives a perceived surface quality to the image. For example, a layer could add a brushstroke effect to give the image the feel of a painting. "If the texture overlay is laid on too thick, it can be a distraction," Goodwin says. Textures were popular in the '90s but are used less often now.
A photo with selective desaturation leaves part of an image in color while the rest is pared down to black and white. This trend seems to have stood the test of time. It first appeared in the '80s but has timeless character.
High Dynamic Range
HDR has been around for more than a century. "It was originally designed to bring value in lights and darks to create a balanced image in terms of exposure, but if you overdo it, it looks like a painting or a cartoon," Goodwin says. Picture a comic book to get a sense of what the extremes of this effect can do. Yet, even toned-down use creates awesome definition and heightens the intensity and mood of an image.
This technique requires a night or dark setting and moving light. Stationary elements are sharply captured while moving light blurs during the long exposure time. It has been popularly used to shoot traffic at night, making city landscapes look like a carnival has come to town.
Light Leak and Lens Flare
When film or a camera sensor is exposed to extra light, red or yellow glares can fill the image. "Back in the day it was considered poor photography skills," Goodwin says. Likewise, lens flare from unplanned reflections or impurities in the lens was considered an amateur mistake. Today photographers are clamoring to get these washed out, hazy effects in their photos. Both can make images look more vibrant, retro or just plain creative.
The Holga is a medium format camera created in the '80s that harnesses the creative power of light leaks, blurring and other distortions for a faded, vintage look.
"The vintage look at this point is like pearls," Goodwin says. "It's timeless."
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