Capitol Blues

wedding photos at night at Madison capitol

And now a totally different take on the Wisconsin Capitol from yesterday’s panorama.

Whenever I am at the Capitol, I always search for the balance between capturing the amazing (!) architecture while still having the final image be a portrait – focused on the couple.

For Elisabeth and Brian’s wedding, this meant a bit of night time magic to make the capitol the best background for embracing that has ever existed.

The only problem to fix with this scene (the beautiful building, the happy couple) is how to make the dark city-lit sky and grey-green night lighting of the Capitol building into something extraordinary. A quick warmer color temperature for the LED brings the whole scene into a bluer tone.

This also involved my lovely assistant (thanks, Scott!) holding an LED while I worked my manual focus tilt-shift lens in the dark (gotta get those faces *and* the windows of the capitol in focus!)


Stay on Target

panorama inside Madison capitol building for destination engagement sessionDon’t worry – infographic is on the way!

At the risk of getting wordy, I have been thinking a lot more about the different “solutions” that I bring to photography. If you have seen me working, you know that the most important tool for any photographer is people skills – gentle corralling, direct requests, anticipation, and a smile. But I also have some compositional, technical, and lighting solutions that I like have available for the right situations.

Which brings us to this 105 (yes, over 100 images) panorama.

I spent several hours with my computer at a standstill as it processed this final image. As I gazed at the tiny progress bar, I had a lot of time to think about why I would spend all this extra time in capturing, processing, and delivering this image when I could have gone a little easier on my self (and my CPU) by not creating a panorama. People have certainly shot in the Madison capitol without panoramas before.

And in case, like me, you are a visual learner, here is an infographic to explain it all.

But mostly it is because creating a huge panorama like this gives you get incredibly narrow focus – the architecture just melts away into the background. So even though you can get a real sense of place and architectural interest, the focus is clearly on Elise and Santosh.

Having shot in the capitol I am always looking for new spaces to shoot in, new ways to light it, new angles and nooks. I want to find a way for the space to feel just right for the couple I am shooting that day.

And so, Elise and Santosh – a 105 image panorama. A one-of-a-kind solution for the two of you to share.

  • Cassie - Gorgeous panorama, I love it! Well worth the time spent. And awesome infographic. :)

  • Adonye Jaja - geez, that super well done!

  • Tim Kamppinen - Great shot, well executed.

  • Jen Norris - Beautiful image, well worth the work! Thanks for sharing a bit of your behind-the-scenes, too.

  • Scott Norris - This is AWESOME. wow.

  • alexis sweet - woah… beautiful. You have lots of patience…

  • Albert Palmer - Stunning – I bet it even looks more impressive in print

  • Rachelle - This technique creates such a magical, dreamy look. Totally worth it!

  • dylan - well done!

  • mathias - boom!! well worth the effort if you ask me. love their expressions too =)

  • Paul Fuller - Worth every minute you put in to it, love it Becca

  • Teresa K - Fantastic capture Becca…well worth the time spent!

  • Justin R - Great shot, Becca! Your patience was worth it!

  • Anton Chia - Beautiful frame(S). Thumbs up!

  • Golden - Asian Wedding Videography - Great work. Love it

Inconvenient Extraordinary Love

Couple on the steps of the madison capitol

One frame from my recent trip to Madison from a portrait session with Elise and Santosh, and they have me thinking a lot about love.

I hadn’t met Elise or Santosh before the portrait session, though Elise and I had been emailing for months – they were coordinating their flights from 2 sides of the country to meet in Madison for engagement photos. Spending time walking around Madison with them was a pleasure, and we talked about all the important things – like food (home made samosas and finding good chinese restaurants in the US), travel and families.

Their cross country romance has me thinking a lot about love, and how inconvenient it can be even at the best of times and also how extraordinary it can make everyday things, like getting together at your alma mater for engagement sessions and dinner with friends.

And so here is one frame for Elise and Santosh – I hope you had a magnificent dinner, happy travels, and plans to see each other again soon!

Swede Hollow Park Engagement St Paul

Several years ago, I was working on photos for a book about Minnesota street food, and the area of Swede Hollow kept popping up in our interviews. Long time residents of St Paul would talk about their immigrant grandparents who lived in Swede Hollow as they worked in the local breweries. Or the changing nature of Swede Hollow – used by wave after wave of immigrants as they became established, and then moved out. Literally moved up to the bluffs in St Paul from the low valley of Swede Hollow. And of course, it’s history is even in it’s name – the people who lived their first, and the geography that kept them together.

And so, when Loree and Andrew suggested Swede Hollow Park, I mostly thought of the history of St Paul, not the beautiful park land that sits there now. It was a pleasure to explore the park with them for their engagement session, and fitting that we then went on to the newly re-opened St Paul Union Depot (boarded up for years after the trains stopped running through St Paul and reopened recently to accommodate a new wave of transportation) and then to St Paul’s high bridge for a sweeping view of all of downtown St Paul.

A touch of the past, mixed with a bit of the future, and a lot of Loree + Andrew!

And, if you are interested in the history, there is a lovely piece on MinnPost by my friend Andy Sturdevant about both Swede Hollow Park and the High Bridge.

st paul union depot engagement portraitsst paul union depot engagement portraitsst paul union depot engagement portraitsengagement photos at regions hospital st paul

  • Jen - Love the sunny field and the cool tunnel, especially the diagonal blocks. Great mix of shots!

  • Albert Palmer - Beautiful – third one down wins for me!

  • Mercedes - Gorgeous. That third one from the top? My favorite.

  • Tim Kelly - That shot under the trees is stunning. Love the light and all that green.

  • Taylor - Absolutely perfect

  • Adonye Jaja - wow, those top three images are ridic! well done!

  • heather nan - Love the first part of this session. The reflection shot is great too!

Second Line march around capitol

Wedding march to mama dig downs brass band second line in Madison

And then we celebrate! Elisabeth and Brian’s wedding ceremony ended with the entrance of Mama Digdown’s Brass Band to lead a second line around the square to their reception.

In the midwest, we can be a stoic people. Pushing down your emotions is impossible with a New Orleans style jazz band marching with your guests, and what a way to celebrate such a happy day!


Minneapolis City Hall Elopement with Mayor Betsy Hodges

If you have already been together for years, built a life, a home, and businesses together, then the actual marriage license can never convey the committment you have already made to each other. But, damn, it is still nice to be able to have one. Congratulations to Jim and Jon on their joined lives, and to being able to fit in a little time for a marriage license.

two grooms by father hennepin statue in Minneapolis City Halltwo grooms laugh by father hennepin statue in Minneapolis City Halltwo grooms at Minneapolis city hall for weddinggrooms walk to elopement at Minneapolis city halloffice of mayor Betsy Hodges Minneapolis elopementtwo grooms in office of Mayor Betsy Hodges before Minneapolis city hall weddingtwo grooms laugh before Minneapolis city hall weddingMayor Betsy Hodges officiates over a same sex wedding in her office at Minneapolis city halltwo grooms hold hands during casual wedding ceremony presided over by Mayor Betsy HodgesMayor Betsy Hodges performs same sex wedding ceremony in her officetwo grooms and witnesses laugh during wedding ceremony at Minneapolis city hallsame sex elopement