A Wedding & Cruise on the Sacramento River 1

Michelle’s dad, Lee, gives her away at the ceremony as Alex looks on. Extreme contrast is always a photographic challenge. I was at least 40 feet back. Because the 580EX had to kick in quite a bit of light from that distance, I used the external power pack to allow for quicker recycling. 1/200 sec f5.6 ISO 100. I should have raised the shutter speed to 1/320 sec from 1/200 sec to retain the highlight in the bride’s veil in retrospect. My 580 EX speedlight was at 1/2 power.

There is no doubt, a wedding on board a ship is romantic.

I’ve been a part of 3. My first time  was on board the Star of India in San Diego too many years ago now.

Though the cutter never left the dock and the temperature was  too hot to be in a suit and tie, I can still remember the name of the vessel.

Two days after I quit the newspaper business I shot my first wedding “professionally” on board the Dandeanna, a yacht which circled Marina Del Rey for 4 hours.

On that occasion, I remember borrowing a 2nd camera body from the person who replaced at the newspaper.

Waiting for the guests–The Empress at the dock before all the guests board her for the evening’s cruise and festivities.

Those of you thinking about doing weddings for a living, yes, you should never shoot a wedding with just one camera.

It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

This weekend was a special treat and a delight.

My nephew Alex married his sweetheart Michelle on board the Empress as we cruised  the Sacramento and American River.

Checking on her daughter– Michelle’s mum Carolyn checks on her before the ceremony as she waits in the wheelhouse.

I had a wonderful time using just my Powershot G11. Occasionally I also used my  580 EX Speedlite with the off-camera sync cord.

When you use a compact Point-and-Shoot camera, you must:

  1. Keep an eye out for clutter in the background because you don’t have the ability to control depth-of-field like a DSLR and its interchangeable lenses.
  2. Also accept that you will have a lower percentage of keepers due to its shutter lag.


The 3-storey descent from the top of the landing which is street-level to the dock was “interesting” especially for my niece Mina who was a novice on heels.

See the picture on the left.

The picture was cropped on the top to remove the distraction.

I made this picture shooting pretty much overhead my niece using the articulating LCD.

I was mistaken as the official photographer when I first arrived.

I must have looked like I knew what I was doing. 😉

While I was hanging out with the beautiful bride Michelle and her bridesmaid Julie, in the wheelhouse, the other guests were treated to champagne and sparkling apple cider.


Formal group pictures–I took up position behind the “official photographer” to show you the kind of lighting he was working with. Sun’s on the right and pretty bright. ISO 100 1/250 @ f8 . That means lots and lots of depth-of-field, in fact maybe too much depending on the focal length of lens used.

The captain performed the ceremony at the stern of the uppermost deck.

It was sweet, intimate and picture perfect as the ship passed underneath bridges.

Occasionally we could hear a chorus of  well-wishers as we passed  small watercrafts and swimmers in the water.

All that made me wish I had access to better video equipment to capture the whole experience.

It’s really tough be in the moment and yet want to document it.

Tough lighting

Contrast is often the toughest obstacle for any photographer.

In a wedding on board a ship where the vessel changes direction like this, the sun may be on your left and then on the right, assuming you don’t change your camera position.

If all you  use is on-camera flash, your pictures won’t look very natural especially when you have directional light from your left or right as in this instance.

On-camera flash will also produce  “hotspots” if there is a window or anything shiny and reflective in its path.

As the sun sets, its color temperature also changes, so you might even have to use a warming gel over the flash so that the color temperatures match.

If you don’t have such a gel for your  flash, you can try bouncing the light from your flash against your fingers or palm.

But don’t expect this bounced light to carry very far.

No surprise why late evening is a photographer's favorite time. Easy to make your subjects stand out.

Backlighting–Late evening is not surprisingly the favorite time of the day for photographers who want to make their subjects stand out. In this picture of my lovely wife and daughter, the rim lighting around their black hair is accentuated by placing them against the dark background of trees.

There’s more to this post but I had to break it up into two parts.

Once again, congratulations Michelle and Alex. Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of this wonderful day in your lives.

2 thoughts on “A Wedding & Cruise on the Sacramento River 1”

  1. Jo,
    Thank so much. It’s quite the dilemma to be just the “guest” at a wedding, yet wanting to document it.

    That was the reason I decided to use the point and shoot camera but with the external flash and off-camera sync cord. It was the best compromise especially since we were flying to Sacramento.

    My better half gave me a look when I was packing. She was thinking, “You’re not expecting me to carry all our clothes and leave you to only carry your toys, are you?”

  2. Being in the moment yet wanting to document – So true. The eternal dilemma. I often feel I can’t experience the moment UNLESS I’m documenting it.

    Great post, Peter – good info and advice, trademark quips, lovely photos.

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