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Ninja Photography – Isaac & Luz: Proposal

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More than any kind of posed portrait, I love capturing real moments of emotion, interaction, and love.

There are fewer times of pure tension, exhilaration, and overwhelming accomplishment than when a man proposes to the woman he deeply loves.

Isaac and Luz are both good friends of mine that live states away from each other.  Sweet, caring, and excitable, they’re perfectly matched!  He’s got a wacky sense of humor, plays a wicked accordion, and can do backflips.  She’s got a smile that will warm any heart, and the moves on the dance floor.

About a month ago, Isaac revealed to me his plan for proposal:  Take her high atop a hill overlooking the sunset and thousands of apple trees.  A bench with a comfortable blanket prepared.  And well… you know the rest.  Now, all he had to do was get a photographer to capture the moment.

Admittedly, it wasn’t easy.  Besides the bench where they were sitting on, there’s nothing else to hide behind besides a thin spruce tree and a fire hydrant.  As the fire hydrant was a bit thicker, I chose to hide behind that.  Good thing I have ninja in my blood.

My heart was beating, my hands shaking… and I wasn’t even the one proposing!  This wasn’t going to work for steady shots, so I didn’t leave things to chance.  Equipped my camera with a prime lens that opens up to a super wide aperture of 1.4.  One advantage of this is I’m able to shoot images at f/2.8 and they’re razor sharp, because the lens has been stopped down from f/1.4.  No lens is its sharpest wide open.  Though I love my Tokina 50-135 f/2.8 zoom lens, I would have to shoot it at f/4 for maximum sharpness.  The loss of light would force me to use a slower shutter speed, and/or a higher ISO. VR would help in this situation, but my Tokina isn’t stabilized.  Also, VR (IS for Canon users) would only correct for photographer movement, not help freeze a moving subject.  I expected elated hugs, so I wanted to get a high shutter speed to freeze the action.  At 85mm, I choose Shutter Priority Mode and set a shutter speed of 1/200th of a second.  This is fast enough to freeze a moving subject, and compensate for my shaky hands.  I could have also done this Manual mode and chose 1/200 sec, f/2.5 or f/2.8 and ISO500.

Light was OK, sun setting behind the clouds.  Chose ‘Shade’ white balance to warm the images a touch (in preview anyway.  Since I shoot RAW, I can change the White Balance later if it’s a bit off.)

As I waited for them to show up (I was staked out behind a car,) took a few pictures of the scene and bench.  Exposure meter stated I was 1/3 stop over exposed.  Which is good.  Why?  I was pointing at light clouds with the sun behind it… My background would be significantly brighter than the subjects (people) that would be in the foreground.  You want to over expose a little in this situation, to make sure your subjects are properly exposed.

I saw a car coming up the hill.  I ducked out of sight and sure enough, it was them.  As planned, he walked her to the bench, and they sat together for a minute or so, talking.  This gave me the chance to start sneaking up behind them.  DANGEROUS!!!  If Luz saw me, everything would go wrong.  She knows me.  She also knows I do portraits and weddings… That and I was carrying my camera free-hand with a big honkin’ lens, so guilty.

With nothing but my beloved fire hydrant to hide behind, I got within 10 feet of them.  The hairs standing tall on the back of my neck, expecting her to turn her head ever so slightly right and catch me in her peripheral vision.  (Propose already man!) Legs were falling asleep from crouching and tucking as tight as possible.  Falling over…!

Isaac got up, hugged her, and got down on one knee.     Showtime.

After he put the ring on, and they kissed, I came out of hiding and walked around them to get shots of the embrace after… both of them a bit alarmed “Where WERE you?”

Here are the shots!

The Kneel...

And the Reveal

Congratulations Isaac and Luz!  Looking forward to the beautiful wedding in March, er, April… 😉  See you then!

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aron Rotteveel #

    Awesome story Josh. It’s really great you got to be a part of this 🙂

    November 30, 2010
    • I was honored to be asked and trusted with it! 😀

      November 30, 2010
  2. Wow! What a great story, and great work too! Very thoughtful as well – to have those memories captured in that way.

    Congratulations to the happy couple.

    November 30, 2010
  3. Wow nice story josh! What an exciting opportunity! Great Job!

    November 30, 2010
  4. Namaya #

    I love the 5th and 7th ones from the top.

    December 1, 2010
    • Thanks Nancy… I love those ones too.

      December 1, 2010
  5. Caleb Martin #


    Nice photos. Congratz to ‘dem. 🙂

    December 2, 2010
  6. Aw, the pictures are so sweet and the emotion just emanates from them. Great shots josh!

    December 9, 2010
  7. Dalia #

    Aww, Great story, Photos are beautiful!! sighh

    January 13, 2011
  8. Ninja’s always make the best friends. Especially when it comes to marriage.

    Heartwarming story Josh.

    January 18, 2011

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