Photographic Tech: Alexandra Jane
At Digitalab, we’re a bunch of photography fanatics and can’t resist an opportunity to nerd out. That’s why we’ve decided to talk to our favourite photographers about one thing we’ve definitely got in common – and that’s professional photography. This time we’ll be getting down to the technicals, and we’ve asked wedding photography expert Alex Jane for a look inside her photographic toolkit – to figure out just how she finds her perfect shot.
What’s your camera of choice?
I’ve been using my Canon 5D Mark IIs for all of my professional career and I love the low light capabilities and comprehensive features.
Which photographic gadgets couldn’t you live without? And are there any you regret ever buying?
I don’t really have any gadgets as such – I’ve thought about all of my equipment and how I would use it before I bought it, as it’s often very expensive. If I regret buying anything, it’s all the Photoshop actions and presets – I’ve bought far too many over the years until I finally found the ones I’m happy with.
What’s your go-to lens, and why?
My favourite lens is my Canon 50mm f1.2 – it’s rarely off my camera. I use it for details, portraits and first dances, and I love the speed, gorgeous bokeh and super sharpness it gives me.
You’re in the field – what are your settings?
I mainly shoot in AV in the full flow pressure of a wedding and I’m always adjusting my iso and aperture depending on the situation. I tend to shoot details really wide open at 2.8/3.2, then up to 4/5.6 for a ceremony. Groups I shoot around f8, depending on the number of people, and then down again to 2.8/3.2 for bridal portraits. I might go down to f1.2 for the first dance, depending on the light levels.
Which gear do you never travel without?
Gosh – my camera bag is a bit like my handbag, in that I put pretty much everything for every eventuality that could present itself at a wedding. On top of 2 camera bodies, I carry a 50mm f1.2, 70-200mm f2.8, 16-35mm f2.8, 100mm macro, 80mm tilt shift, spare batteries, a flash gun and lots of memory cards. Then in the car, I always have 2 light stands, 2 reflectors, a video light, a shoot through umbrella, a spare flash gun, wireless flash triggers and a ton of AA and AAA batteries. I like to be prepared!
What software or tools do you use post-processing?
I always used to process everything in Photoshop, but last year I moved over to Lightroom – I now don’t know how I managed without it and my processing time has been cut in half. I use VSCO presets, tending to use Kodak Portra for colour and Tri-X for black and whites. I have to reign myself in actually – I’m a bit like the artist who wants to use all of their paints in every picture!
Which professional photographers inspire or influence your work?
There are so many – but as a quick roundup, it has to be Jose Villa, Elizabeth Messina, Jasmine Star, Jen Huang, KT Merry, Max Wanger & Jesh de Rox.
How do you improve your photography skills?
I like to invest in some training at least once a year, either with another photographer who inspires me or on a course which just allows you to think creatively and shoot for myself. I also like to socialise with other photographers and do creative collaborations with other creatives and photographers. I think even if you learn just one thing from another person, it’s a worthwhile experience.
What’s some advice you’d give to a first-timer that you wish you had known starting out?
Make sure you’ve got your head screwed on when it comes to business. This is a really competitive industry, so refine your product to make yourself stand out from the crowd.