Wedding Fluff: Cameras, and Being a Best Man

It was about a week ago now that I was sitting in a Cracker Barrel, eating breakfast with the Russell and the Butterfield family and a couple of friends, old and new. And it was about a month and a half ago that I last blogged about relatively mundane things. So I figure it’s appropriate to post some more random developments in my life. The theme of this month’s post is, you guessed it, John and Amanda’s wedding.

I’ll lead off with more pertinent stuff before rambling on about technology. First off, being in the wedding party was a cool experience. Stressful, but very fun. There’s a lot that goes on, in making a wedding run smoothly. There a rehearsal, there’s getting ready for the wedding the day of, and there’s lubricating the social experience with food. Lots of it. As a groomsman, it’s pretty straight forward. Stand where you’re asked, look happy. As a best man, you have to look a little happier, and stand a little straighter. Not nearly as much pressure as the groom, but still something to sweat over. Oh, and worrying about that best man’s toast.

Since I fully admit to being a terrible public speaker, I prepared it a few days early and printed it out. For those of you who weren’t there… or perhaps for those of you who were, this is how it should have gone:

Good evening, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be here today. [Fluff, thanking the families, etc.]

Now, I believe it’s customary for me to make a few flattering remarks about the groom, but first, I think I should explain a little bit about myself and how I know John. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Winston, and I am best man for this happy occasion.

I’ve known John going on 5 years now, and to say we went to college together would be a bit of an understatement. I’ve slept in the same room with him, overheard his karaoke sessions in the shower, and fallen victim to many of his goofy pranks. You know, the usual things when you’ve lived with someone for 4 years.

Amanda, trust me, you’re in for a real treat.

If you stick around someone as long, and as closely, as I have with John, you begin to notice how they change. Through college, I can boil John’s metamorphosis down to three important points: How to have Fun, Maturity, and Love.

The first point relates to the evolution of how we spent our nights at college. When we first started out freshman year, we used to pour hours and hours into video games. Super smash brothers was our weekly treat for getting through classes. By senior year, that had all changed. We were shamelessly addicted to a board game, Settlers of Catan. I dare say that our recreational choices should make parents of any other college students jealous.

But the purpose of all this wasn’t to shun technology. In fact, John’s one of the most avid cell phone users I know. You wouldn’t guess it if you sent him a text, because he wouldn’t get back to you for a couple of days, but he’s spent many a night talking to Amanda with his thumbs. The point is, we found fun in life no matter where we were, what we were doing, and who we were with. And I think that’s something that will no doubt be true between John and Amanda.

The second thing I’d like to mention is how much John has matured through college. The answer is… not much.

The third point … alright, I was just kidding, John’s grown up a lot. He used to be a lanky, goofy freshman, and now he’s this (mostly) responsible adult. But that’s no fun to talk about that.

The third point is about how I watched John fall in love. (Awww). Actually, that’s a lie. I personally never saw it coming because John was always missing… But after John’s secret relationship was revealed, a couple of us on our freshman floor made sure to awkwardly crash in on their alone time every now and then. How they managed survived that first year is beyond me. But they did, and they’ve only grown closer with time.

I know how much care John devoted to Amanda in college because I went with him one year (in 2009 to be exact) to go buy flowers on Valentines Day for our significant others. What I learned that day wasn’t that every flower store between TCNJ and Princeton was closed on weekends. But talking to John in the car, I realized how much thought he put into his relationship. He wouldn’t be here today, if he didn’t want to be, with every fiber of his being. And I’m truly excited for him and Amanda to be starting this new chapter in life.

I want to thank everyone for coming to share in this celebration today, and would like to conclude with a simple sentiment, or perhaps a warning:

To Amanda, may you forever enjoy John’s foolish antics and loving devotion.
To John, always remember that life is supposed to be fun, should you ever find yourself stressed, you can always count on sleepy-time tea. And… you know. Your beautiful wife. And remember to buy flowers before the weekend so you don’t have to go to Stop-and-Shop.

A toast: To John and Amanda, and their love.

Writing that 4 minutes worth of narrative was challenging to say the least. It would have been all too easy to roast John the whole time, so I had to find a way to fold in some more tasteful ties back to the whole purpose of the event, John and Amanda’s marriage. I *think* I accomplished that.

But with the speech out of the way, it was pure fun for the rest of the night.

And in that vein, let’s talk about something completely different: How the Nikon D5100 performed superbly in low light. As I mentioned in a previous post, Nikon’s Auto mode enables automatic ISO adjustment across a user-specified range. This gives the camera more options to tweak in order to take fast pictures in any situation. If I had been packing my old Pentax, I probably would have had many fewer usable pictures because it would have used a shutter speed of 1/30s or worse in most cases. With a little bit of post processing, my shots at ISO 6400 came out way better than anything from a pocket camera. Low-light autofocus performance was generally stellar, although at times, the D5100 focused on a ceiling or far wall. Presetting the AF points would have prevented this.

I also discovered how/why dedicated camera flashes can be useful. Using on-camera flash, there’s a minimum shutter speed that the camera can use. In auto, it may be slower than full manual, but the problem remains: for fast things like Dancing Butterfields, you get ghosting. When the flash first goes off, you get a nice image burned into the image sensor, but before the shutter closes again, residual light causes the image to smear out. No bueno. Still though, at this point, I’m not inclined to spend a few hundred on a good Speedlight.

And as always, cropping is a valuable tool for extracting usable results from off-the cuff photos, or less than ideal settings. Take for example the photo at the top of this post. The set of photos that were taken included a lot of the crowd in the bottom half of the picture. Large heads in the foreground aren’t exactly attractive, so I isolated the photo to only show the important part. The subject of the photo was great, you just had to trim the fat to focus on portraying the important parts. P.S. I could have included more of the bouquet, but I wanted to avoid including the photographer in the picture, as well as maintain a 4×6 aspect ratio. As it is, I’m not entirely thrilled my face is in there.

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