Cliff Mautner on shooting wedding portraits

When I began shooting weddings, I quickly realized that wedding photographers choose neither when they shoot nor where they shoot. In fact, their creative choices are rather limited. Shooting in harsh light is one such form of adversity. I had to learn how to create texture, dimension and mood when using this very difficult type of illumination. Now I believe that there is more texture and mood with bright light. This image serves as an excellent example.

The shot was set up and captured very quickly, but my creative intention is almost always the same: put my subjects in the best light and the best compositional scenario I can muster, then allow them to interact as naturally as possible. I work quickly because time is of the essence on a wedding day. The stress and rigors of the timeline make it necessary to work quickly. The mood for this image was exactly what I was trying to achieve: dramatic lighting for a feel and dimension that can't be achieved in flat lighting conditions.

The results I obtain with this camera are astounding. The details in the tall grass and veil are unprecedented, thanks to incredible resolution. In addition, there really seems to be a wider dynamic range than earlier camera bodies, and the veil maintains intricate details even in these harsh, backlit conditions. There is detail to be found throughout every shadow and every highlight. For me, and my style of shooting, this is extremely important. I really push the limits of my files by putting myself in such harsh lighting conditions, yet throughout this shoot, the camera performed beautifully.

This image is an excellent example of the D800's capabilities, because its high resolution and dynamic range allow me to maintain detail throughout the entire file. Prior to this camera, there were usually sacrifices to be made: I might have to accept some blown highlights in a veil in order to allow the dramatic light to remain prominent. In this case, however, no sacrifice was needed! With a camera like this, I will not hesitate to push a file to its limits. The detail here is something I've never seen before, except perhaps in medium-format film images. From bridal portraits to family portraits, this camera will allow me to shoot fast, and I'll also have resolution power like I've never seen before in a D-SLR.

Cliff Mautner

(U.S.A.)