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Hi guys, it’s been again a long time since I have blogged my latest post here.  A combination of work, important projects and family life (3 kids now, and 2 of them at home for 2 months during holidays in July/August) made me virtually unavailable for anything else. I already can’t wait for our first holidays in more than 3 years, by the end of this year, back to Europe !

Anyway, during that time, I have done many different things, and among them, I have upgraded my lighting equipment with an amazing item: the Icelight. When I first heard about the Icelight early 2012, it was through my friend Jerry Ghionis when he was still testing it. Jerry is recognized as one of the best wedding photographers in the world, and he had the brilliant idea to design a continuous lighting that is really transportable and delivers a great light quality. I won’t describe the product here, there are lots of resources on that on the net – http://www.theicelight.com – but I simply would like to stress out that this product is amazing *.

So I have ordered 2 Icelights a couple of weeks ago and I got them last Saturday (17 Aug 13). They are not really cheap (US$500 each) but it costs less than a good speed light and for a far better quality of light. It’s as Jerry says: “it’s like carrying window light everywhere you go”. The product is manufactured by Wescott, a famous lighting equipment company, and is of great quality. The box itself looks like the one of an Apple product, and really you feel quality, reliability, solidness when you have the Icelight in hand. Everything looks perfect, and it is, but of course, there are a few cons: like the battery for instance, which lasts only 1 hour at full power (that being said, it’s quite rare that you need full power all the time, and between 2 shots, you can just switch it off …), or the maximum power, which doesn’t enable you to use it in bright outdoor conditions (the Icelight is clearly designed for indoor, studio or night shoots).

As every photographer, I am photo equipment geek … and as soon as I receive a new piece of equipment, I want to test and try it. In less than a week, I have already shot 2 photo sessions with my Icelights: one for a wedding and one that I have offered to a couple who wanted to do something very special (recreate the Wong Kar Wai movie “In the mood for love” mood and atmosphere in the streets of Port-Louis, Mauritius. Here are then some images taken during those 2 photo sessions … and really looking forward to the next sessions with them !

1. “In the mood for love” theme images:

DSC_4900w signedr DSC_4909w signedr DSC_4972w signedr DSC_4996w signedr DSC_5019w signedr DSC_5042w signedr DSC_5054w signedr DSC_5071w signedr DSC_5086w signedr DSC_5141w signedr DSC_5165w signedr DSC_5169w signedr DSC_5183w signedr DSC_5187w signedr

2. Images of Meelin and Oliver wedding – first time I ever used the Icelights:

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3. The Icelight with its box:

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* Note: I am not a distributor or reseller of this product in Mauritius or anywhere in the world – Jerry, if you read this, maybe we could do business together here 😉 lol. I am not earning any commissions or royalties by writing this blog post. I am just writing it because I love the product and I think it deserves to be better known.

Until recently, I always believed there are 2 types of lighting school – natural light and flash photography. Being a natural light photographer, I had in my mind that natural light was the best quality one and that a photographer using it well was someone able to adapt himself to any kind of situations (and I still think this is true 😉 ). Also in my mind, the role of flash was more to light a dark scenery or fill-in the shadows – this is obviously the main basic role of a strobe (flash). Finally, using flash had some major drawbacks for me: first strobes flatten perspective hone on-camera; second, when off-camera, it requires to move a lot of equipment (a tripod stand, an umbrella or a soft-box …) and this is really not convenient during a wedding and without assistant.

So, with those negatives mindsets against flash, I have launched my studio activities in Mauritius last year … and from then, I have rediscovered the power of flash, the one I learned some years ago during my photography degree in Paris and the one I used on assignments with professional photographers in Europe and in Asia. However, this really was about using big huge studio flashes, either in a studio or outside, and this required a lot of equipment and assistants (I have very recently assisted a Belgian photographer for a Paris Match reportage in Mauritius, using those big huge studio flashes outdoor – you can have a look here). Here comes a technique that is now, I guess, quite well known by professional photographers – it is called “strobist“. This term of strobist was named by David Hobby (and it’s copyrighted), who is one of the 3 masters of flash photography with Joe McNally and Zack Arias. Just have a look at their work and you’ll understand the power of small flash (strobe) photography ! Very briefly, the technique consists of having your flash off-camera i.e. from a different angle than the one of your lens. You can use 1, 2, 3, 10 different flashes to compose the light of your image – this gives you incredible creative possibilities and precise master of your light. Also, used with effective light modifiers (umbrella, soft-box, grid, diffuser, beauty-dish, snoot …), small strobes can achieve great results !

Knowing that you can get amazing results with just a few pieces of equipment, made me rethink the way I was shooting my outdoor wedding portraits. I used to use natural light and reflectors, which is still the way I operate 80% of the time, because it’s very practical in the fast-paced environment of a wedding. But now I also use my mobile lighting equipment to get images I was previously not able to shoot AND to precisely craft and master light to get stunning images with a lot of character (light creating soft or contrasted shadows). My equipment is pretty basic – 3 Nikon sb800 (I might buy a couple of sb910 soon), some stands, umbrellas, soft-box, color gels, reflectors, diffusion panels and radio triggers. I had this equipment for quite a long time, and I used it indoor (for corporate portraits for instance) – but I was reluctant to use it outdoor, because of the wind. So here comes the small detail that makes the whole difference: some weighting bags, given by my friend Michel Gronemberger, professional photographer in Belgium. With them filled with sand or rocks, my stands with umbrellas won’t fall down, even with some wind.

OK, enough said about my ways to flash photography ! Let’s have now some examples of a wedding I shot last week, without assistant – the wedding of Tara and Stephan in Tamarin. What I did was really simple, and the results were great. I simply thought of 2 lighting set-ups, one on the beach, on in the gardens – except those 2 settings, the whole wedding reportage was shot as usual, with natural light.

The first lighting set-up on the beach could not have been simpler than that – a one light set-up, with 1 Nikon sb800 triggered in a shoot-through umbrella, camera left, iTTL mode, +1EV compensation. The idea was to shoot the couple with the sea and the nice sunset behind them. At that time, the sun was hidden by some beautiful clouds and a few rays of sun light was coming out of them. The ambient light was very soft, but the background was pretty clear (explaining the +1EV compensation to the iTTL mode) – this bright background was also used as rim light i.e. the back light that defines your subject outlines. When you are taking pictures with flash, it’s better to go on your camera manual mode – first, you need to take an ambient light image to check which amount of ambient light you need in your final image; then you check the amount of flash light you need to light your subject; finally, you check the balance between ambient and flash light, in terms of amount of light, quality of light (the position of your flash towards your subject) and colors of light. Here’s the result:

Without any strobe, reflector … and measuring light for the whole frame, you get this type of result (which I love as much as the previous one 🙂 ):

 

The second lighting set-up I used for this wedding was later in the dark. I heard from the owner of the bungalow where the couple was staying that April is the only month in the year when you can have the full moon rising right over Black River, a beautiful river running just down the bungalow’s garden. On that specific day, it was full moon, the sky was cloudless and the moon’s reflection on the river was sensational. Very close to the river was a small pirogue, under a nice tree, both lit by a warm yellow directional spot. The whole difficulty here was to get enough ambient light while it was very dark. After my first test shot for ambient light, I was at ISO 3,200, f/2.8 and 1/20th. If those set-ups are tough for move blur of the background, there’s no risk of getting a blurry couple in my image as the flash will fix them in this very dark environment. Anyway, I had to hold my breath to get some sharpness in my background … The lighting set-up was composed of 2 Nikon sb800, the spot on the boat and tree, and the full moon. 1 sb800 was on-camera and was used as fill-in and commander for the second flash – it was in Manual mode at 1/32 power. The second sb800 was camera left, with shoot-through umbrella, iTTL mode and -1EV compensation (to compensate from the very dark environment). Here’s the result in those 2 different images (both with similar lighting set-up):

And seated on the boat:

Thanks for reading, guys 🙂 Have a good week !

A few weeks ago I spent a wonderful time with Lucilla & Chung for their wedding. Lucilla is Mauritian while Chung comes from Hong Kong, and they both live in the UK. The day was beautiful and we took pictures at Cap Malheureux (couple portraits), Sugar Beach (family images and tea ceremony) and Domaine Ana (ceremony and reception).

Here are a few images among the thousand I took during the day 😉 :

First of a series of 7 Mauritian weddings in my schedule (that I have signed off up to the end of this year), Diane & Reghardt wedding took place earlier this week and was a great and fun event of love, joy and happiness. Diane is Chinese-mauritian while Reghardt comes from South-Africa, they make a wonderful and lovely couple and we all could feel their love throughout the day.

I have to admit that I almost forgot how physical and tough it was to take images of a full day wedding, from 8am to midnight … I finished the day completely exhausted 🙂 but very happy with my images. Out of the 1,100 images I took during the day (way too much, but this is the result from 16 hours of shooting 😉 ), here are a few of my selection :

Hi all,

after nearly 1 year of activity, Pixel in the Box experienced a great success, thanks to your trust in our images. Considering increasing demands on the wedding and honeymoon market and our direct competitors much-higher-rates, we decided to slightly increase our rates as of 1 September 2011. This will apply to all new contracts signed off after 1 September 2011; all agreements made before that date will remain based on the previous rates. The new rate structure will be as follow: Original pack – €350; Medium pack – €520; Superior pack  – €650; Prestige pack – €800; Ocean and Traveler packs – €1,000.

This represent an a 8% average increase, which we truly believe is reasonable. Many thanks again for your support !

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Bonjour Ă  toutes et Ă  tous,

aprĂšs prĂšs d’un an d’activitĂ©, Pixel in the Box a connu un formidable succĂšs, grĂące Ă  votre confiance et votre support. ConsidĂ©rant le nombre croissant de demandes pour des mariages et lunes de miel, ainsi que des tarifs plus Ă©levĂ©s proposĂ©s par nos compĂ©titeurs directs, nous avons dĂ©cidĂ© d’augmenter lĂ©gĂšrement nos tarifs Ă  compter du 1er septembre 2011. Ces augmentations vont s’appliquer aux nouveaux contrat signĂ©s aprĂšs cette date; tous les contrats signĂ©s avant le 1er septembre 2011 resteront basĂ©s sur les anciens tarifs. Les nouveaux tarifs proposĂ©s seront comme suit: Original pack – €350; Medium pack – €520; Superior pack  – €650; Prestige pack – €800; Ocean and Traveler packs – €1,000.

Cela représente une augmentation moyenne de 8%, ce qui, nous le pensons sincÚrement, reste trÚs raisonnable. Encore un grand merci pour votre soutien sans faille !

Hello everyone,

as today is summer day in Europe (not here in Mauritius, where winter is now really here !), I wanted to post the part 2 of Katrin & Manuel wedding images. The following part 2 images were taken at their hotel in the morning and at different places in Mauritius in the afternoon (Chamarel, Black River Gorges, Alexandra Falls, the tea road, Saint Aubin colonial house, la Roche qui pleure, Baie du Cap, and Le Morne). At noon we had lunch at “Varangues sur Morne”, a nice restaurant with breathtaking views on Le Morne and other mountains. We also enjoyed a very nice weather and I personally had a great and funny day with Katrin and Manuel 😉

Here are some images !

It’s been quite a long time since I have posted some wedding images here – not that I didn’t take any wedding images, on the contrary ! 😉

To catch up a bit I am posting some images at an unusual time – between 2 shooting sessions. Katrin & Manuel got married last Thursday and today we will have a photo session in different places of Mauritius (mainly the South as they are based at Le Morne). Thus I’ll post, in a part 2, some more images of them after today’s experience.

Katrin & Manuel come from Germany and got married at the Dinarobin, Le Morne. Their parents from both sides were there to witness and support their love, with a lot of emotions. It was fun for me as I had to talk to them in German, which I haven’t done for a long time (my German is now quite rusted, but we managed to understand altogether well :)). The weather was nice, although some heavy clouds brought a bit of rain and virtually “killed” the nice light of golden hour (the hour just before sunset). Hopefully we will have a nice sunset today … 😛

So, here is the first batch of images of Katrin & Manuel wedding day:

J’ai passĂ© 2 journĂ©es merveilleuses en compagnie de Delphine & HervĂ©, et de leur 2 magnifiques filles, Charlotte et Rose. La premiĂšre journĂ©e fut consacrĂ©e Ă  leur mariage et Ă  la cĂ©rĂ©monie, Ă  l’hĂŽtel Les Canonniers dans le Nord de l’ile. La cĂ©rĂ©monie a Ă©tĂ© trĂšs Ă©mouvante et pleine de tendresse. La session photo dans les jardins et sur les plages de l’hĂŽtel  étaient trĂšs drĂŽle et pleine de vie, les 2 petites participant Ă  toutes les poses 🙂 (ou presque).

La deuxiĂšme journĂ©e, nous avons voyagĂ© dans le Nord de l’Ile Maurice, du bazar de Port-Louis via les montagnes de Moka, les jardins de Pamplemousses et le Cap malheureux et sa merveilleuse petite Ă©glise au toit rouge. Le temps Ă©tait magnifique et nous avons passĂ© un fort agrĂ©able moment, rempli de dĂ©couvertes (paysages insoupçonnĂ©s, gastronomie mauricienne, des parties du bazar peu connues des touristes …). Au final, j’espĂšre que leurs images resteront gravĂ©es Ă  tout jamais dans leur mĂ©moire:

“Mr Benjamin …, rĂ©sident au Paradis, voulez-vous prendre Mlle ValĂ©rie … pour Ă©pouse ?” C’est ainsi que ValĂ©rie et Benjamin se sont mariĂ©s Ă  l’Ile Maurice, au Paradis – comprenez, Ă  l’HĂŽtel Le Paradis, prĂšs du Morne. En ce jour du 11 mars, les nuages et les averses orageuses Ă©taient trĂšs prĂ©sents … et le soleil ne semblait pas vouloir montrer le bout de son nez. Puis, pendant la cĂ©rĂ©monie, le ciel s’est dĂ©couvert, et avec lui le soleil est revenu, rendant Ă  la mer son bleu lagon si caractĂ©ristique. Juste aprĂšs la cĂ©rĂ©monie, nous fĂźmes une ballade en bateau trĂšs romantique, Ă  la fin de laquelle nous apprĂźmes la nouvelle du tsunami au Japon (voir plus bas). Le ciel Ă©tait magnifique en cette fin de journĂ©e, et le soleil, tamisĂ© par un lĂ©ger voile nuageux, nous offrit une lumiĂšre superbe jusqu’Ă  son coucher. ValĂ©rie et Benjamin ont eu une belle journĂ©e et un beau mariage. Voici quelques images de leur bonheur et de leur amour:

 

Alors que nous Ă©tions sur le bateau et voulions accoster, des employĂ©s de l’hĂŽtel s’affairaient Ă  enlever les planches du pont et nous demandaient d’accoster directement sur la plage. Ils nous dirent qu’il y avait une alerte au tsunami Ă  l’Ile Maurice. Nous fĂźmes immĂ©diatement le rapprochement avec le tremblement de terre au japon plus tĂŽt dans la journĂ©e. Cette alerte fut levĂ©e quelques heures plus tard … mais je n’ai pas pu m’empĂȘcher de prendre ce ciel en photo, en pensant Ă  tout le peuple japonais et Ă  tous mes amis qui vivent au Japon. A vous tous, je vous envoie mes pensĂ©es et mes priĂšres.

While we were on the boat with the just-married-couple and as we wanted to land, some people of the hotel were preparing the shore for a tsunami warning – we had then to land directly on the beach. We immediately made the link with earthquake in Japan that happened a few hours before and we were quite scared. The warning was withdrawn a few hours later in Mauritius … but I couldn’t help to take an image of the sky, thinking and praying for the people of Japan and all my friends living there. To all of you, I send you my prayers.

J’ai eu rĂ©cemment le plaisir de photographier le renouvellement de voeux de BĂ©nĂ©dicte & Philippe. BĂ©nĂ©dicte & Philippe viennent du sud de la France, et travaillent tous deux dans le secteur mĂ©dical.
BĂ©nĂ©dicte voulait faire une belle surprise Ă  Philippe, en organisant en cachette toute la cĂ©rĂ©monie Ă  l’HĂŽtel La Pirogue (ils rĂ©sidaient dans une villa dans la petite ville toute proche de Flic-enFlac) – la surprise fut trĂšs rĂ©ussie et nous avons passĂ© ensemble un moment plein d’Ă©motions, de joies et de bonne humeur. Voici quelques images prises Ă  cette occasion:

 

 

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