My Saturday clockwork routine had a break when I received an invitation to attend a church wedding from a ballet student whom I played for many many years ago when she was a teenager. We kept in touch over Facebook because her birthday is 2 days after mine.
Foreseeing that I could get listless during the lengthy matrimonial ceremony, I thought it would be a good idea to lug along my Samsung NX1 mirrorless camera and a couple of lenses that were locked up in the dry cabinet for ages. That would keep me occupied as I watch for interesting moments to capture during the event.
The Samyang 8mm f/3.5 is a manual fish-eye lens for APS-C sensors. It fills the entire image plane. This is a great lens for shooting the interior of buildings or at tight spaces. 8mm converts to 12mm field of view in full-frame context, which is extremely wide. In fact, it is too wide to be used for architecture due to severe distortion, but I love the perspective and the distortion can be mitigated using software.
In such a magnificent Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, a single-plane view is incapable to showing the beauty all around. It is a habit that I bring my LG 360 CAM, a 360-degree camera that captures the scene in a sphere. I recommend you read my article on 360 photography for more information.
I chose to sit at the last row of the first section and against the aisle. At that position, I should get unobstructed view of the march-in without stepping out to the aisle. I have no intention to get in the way of the photographers and videographers engaged by the wedding couple to do their job.
As I was settling in my seat, I heard someone turning to me and asked “Are you Mr. Chester?” Only ballet students and parents of the students call me by that name. It did not take me long to recognise that it was De Xin’s mum. We exchanged a few words politely and she proceeded to greet other guests.
While waiting for the guests to stream in, I looked around me for familiar faces, and found none. I browsed the programme and as usual, there would be a photo taking session with sequence. If there were anyone I knew who were present, I would meet them when we were called for the group photos. So I just got myself comfortable and trained my eye for interesting subjects to capture.
I swapped out the 8mm lens for the 85mm f/1.4. The 85mm is one of the best lenses for portraiture and events due to its shallow depth of field to deliver blurred foreground and background, resulting in a pinpoint isolation and focus on the intended subject. This lens, produced by Samsung for the NX mount, offers supreme optics. I am one of the remaining users of this defunct system as Samsung has ceased the mirrorless line.
Moments after 10.15am, the ceremony commenced. Flower girls walked down the aisle, followed by the first bridesmaid, then the second. When it was time for De Xin and her dad to step on, the veil got caught. Fortunately, it was promptly resolved, like all dads managed.
There is something about church weddings that calm me. It is probably the blend of pipe organ, choral singing and the natural reverbs of the hall. The occasional traffic noises broke the tranquility as Father Justin Lim shared the word. He explained that every couple is unique, hence friends and families should not interfere with their own ideas since their personalities and ways of handling disputes are different.
Shortly after, the exchange of vows was taken. I took 2 shots. One was a close up with the 85mm.
I wanted to do a wider shot, so I snapped with the Huawei P10 Plus. Being experienced in events photography, I always bring 2 camera bodies fitted with different lenses to capture different perspectives without the hassle of swapping lenses. But since I am attending the wedding as a guest, bringing 2 camera bodies would be an overkill. The Huawei P10 Plus achieved similar depth of field outcome comparable to a DSLR, although the pixel quality is far from NX1. It is good enough for me to document this moment.
And finally, the first kiss as Man and Wife. Focus was not on the couple because I framed the couple off-centre and caused the AF sensor to pick another focal point. I suppose it was a good mistake as Jesus appeared as the main focus, as it should be the case for all Christian and Catholic families.
With the solemnisation coming to an end, I waited patiently for my turn to have a photo opportunity with De Xin. Even though we have not met personally in years since she graduated from the ballet school, Facebook updates made us feel less estranged.
As it was not possible to hold a conversation at lengths in such occasion, I gave them my congratulations briefly, and asked if she would be appearing later at the lunch reception, so that we might catch up again.
Very often, people thank me for some of the things I do for them. But I should be the one thanking them for the opportunity to experience new events in my life, other than the routine Saturdays.