With all the unseasonable rain we’ve been having in Southern California, this bright and sunny day was well-timed for Kelly and Nick’s engagement portrait session. Kelly had previously told me they were planning a ‘country chic’ theme for their wedding. They both like country music, grew up on or around ranches and farms, and generally were outdoors-y people.
So almost immediately, two locations sprang to mind: first up was Steckel Park, outside of Santa Paula. I had recently scouted this location for a family portrait, only to end up using a different location. So this place was “in my back pocket”, so to speak. Steckel Park is a county park along a river, and is used primarily as a campground. However there are parts of it that are disused, and there are lots of boulders and lush green trees. Perfect for a shady location in the middle of the afternoon!
Afterward, we headed up the 150 to “Happy Valley”, a stretch of ranchland between Santa Paula and Ojai. I’ve driven through here a number of times, and the light in the late afternoon can be absolutely gorgeous…as it was when we shot these. I had picked a couple of locations ahead of time, and we just stopped along the road and made beautiful images.
Kelly and Nick seem so comfortable together, and it was really sweet to watch them interact. After a few minutes of initial camera-shyness (which is normal), they almost seemed to forget I was there. I think that shows in their images!
Technical notes: no 35mm film was harmed in the making of this shoot…it was all shot on medium-format film. The main camera I used was my Mamiya 645AF with an 80mm f/2.8 lens. I think I also used my 150mm lens at some point…the one where Nick is in the background, out of focus, was most likely a telephoto lens.
I also used my Yashica-mat twin lens reflex camera to shoot black and white, one of which made it into this set (the square silhouette). The rest of the black and white was shot on my Mamiya. The images with the reddish light leaks were taken using a Koni Omega Rapid, with a 90mm f/3.5 lens. I brought it along for fun, and obviously the film back had some issues (which I’ve now repaired). I like the leaks though…they add character. You know, some people pay good money for Photoshop plugins to simulate light leaks. I got ’em for free!
Film was a mixed bag: the Mamiya had Ilford HP5 black and white, new Kodak Portra 400 (for the park shots), and I’m not sure what for the ranch images. It might have been Fuji Reala, as the red of Kelly’s shirt is very saturated. I don’t have the actual negatives back from Richard Photo Lab yet, so I don’t know for sure. The Yashica-mat might have had Kodak Tmax 400. Yeah I know, not very helpful! Contact me in a few weeks when I get the negatives back, if you really must know.
I’ll be photographing Kelly and Nick’s wedding in the spring of 2012.