Curtis & Jordin Wiklund, A Husband and Wife Photography Team in Birmingham, Michigan, specializing in weddings, high school senior pictures, family portraits, and lifestyle photography.
Hi, my name is Curtis Wiklund. I dream a lot and have a beautiful wife named Jordin. We shoot weddings and portraits all over the place. If you'd like to receive an email notice when I post new projects on this blog, you can subscribe with your email address in the space to the right. If you'd like to hire us to take your pictures, please visit our contact page. Thanks! ...more about us here!
I didn’t even realize until today that I missed my Tuesday blog! Clearly, I haven’t gotten into the rhythm yet. Here’s Natalie’s senior pictures! We shot Natalie’s sister, Elise‘s senior pictures a couple years ago, and their family has since moved to Pennsylvania. Natalie coordinated her senior picture shoot around a trip back to Michigan so that she could have us shoot them! We felt very honored :) And she has awesome hair too. Here are some faves.
Standing in a four-way conversation with Hugh Jackman, Shawn Levy, and Glenn Derry, I was thrilled and a little star-struck. Shawn, most notably was the director of Date Night and Cheaper By The Dozen, Hugh Jackman the Wolverine in X-Men to name a role, and Glenn Derry INVENTED the technology used on Avatar (more details on that below). These are the big wigs. I was basically mute any time we talked as a group, just taking instructions, but I got to work on the floor and watch Shawn’s every move, talk with Glenn and his assistant cameraman about the lenses they use and the amazing real-time motion tracking (more below), and even chatted over lunch with Hugh about Michigan and coffee. Bragging? Hardly. What will be ingrained in my mind as some of the most exciting interactions of my life, will likely go unremembered by these industry mega-forces. Oh well, on to the techie stuff!
My first day, I walked into the Cobo Arena downtown Detroit, where a huge artificial boxing ring had been built for fighting robots. It was surrounded by about 20 rows of fans, and behind them, a green screen wrapped around the wall. This green screen would be replaced in editing with a colosseum full of thousands of cheering fans.
A clip of Cobo Arena during production:
A clip of Cobo as the final Real Steel arena:
While shooting the fight scenes, no actual robots were on the boxing ring stage. The robots would be added in post-production. Therefore, Josh Mclaglen, the assistant director, had to wave around a baton with an orange ball on the end to show the crowd where to look and where to cheer. This is where the robots would eventually be once animated.
This all made sense to me. What I saw next didn’t, and it blew my mind.
I walked over and saw the video monitor that Shawn Levy (the director) was watching. On his screen, he saw the crowd, the boxing ring, AND the actual robots fighting, and the thousands of rows of artificial fans! It looked like the final movie. Now this may not be that exciting to those who understand how green screens work and how pre-recorded animations can be composited over live action footage (even in real time), but… THE CAMERAMEN WERE MOVING! All over! The cameramen were like ballerinas on the boxing ring, dancing from corner to corner, and the “virtual camera” that was showing the super-imposed virtual robots was following the exact movements of the cameramen! Each camera had red or white tracking points on it, and there was a huge ring of 20-30 mini-cameras around the ceiling that were tracking the main cameras!
I wish I had pictures of it. Basically, on Shawn’s screen, they were making a movie in real time. There were boxing robots, thousands of fans, and everything was being color corrected in another room in real time. It was like the director could see the final product of a mixed CGI and live-action movie AS THEY WERE SHOOTING IT!
This blew my mind for multiple reasons. First, it’s changing the way we can shoot movies that mix animation and live-action. Second, it opens up a whole new industry, where animations can be interacting with real people in real time. Imagine going to see live theater, but there are huge projected screens that have animated movie scenes that interact with the live actors. One moment, you think you’re watching a movie, the next it’s happening live, and the next, the two are interacting in real-time.
I’d like to think that this could be the future of our entertainment. I hope this is inspiring for you to think about; storytelling experiences that are as powerful and engaging as today’s best movies but are actually happening right in front of you. It’s a much advanced version of something else I’ve been very excited about. I posted a drawing a while back of my thesis concept, a live movie musical. It’s beginning to take shape! I hope it won’t be long before I begin posting about it.
Thanks for indulging my excitement in this movie. I honestly have no idea if it is good, because I haven’t seen it! I plan to soon. And by the way, my brother in law Davey was the runner up for the lead part. I was there to see the acting scenes… Davey should’ve gotten it… just sayin’
For all you EXTRA-techies, continue on for more on motion tracking and behind the scenes!
Real Steel Motion Tracking
Here, you can see the markers attached to the camera for the realtime camera tracking, which makes “realtime previs” (pre-visualizing animation during production) a reality.
This is the device used for realtime color grading. (It’s a “DaVinci Resolve”)
This is Shawn and the mega digital camera (the whole movie was shot digitally, which is required for PreVis).
I will mostly be posting our new work on this blog, but occasionally I will pull one from the archives that never made it out to the world during our time of intermittent blogging. Here’s a peek of Robin and CJ’s engagement, close friends, now married.
Brides, stay tuned… Robin had us design a really cool Christmas gift for CJ this year with their wedding vows and photos. I’ll post that soon, it’s a really awesome idea that we would love to do more of.
I have been thinking about this post for months. No, future posts will not be this long, but this is incredibly exciting to me. We are breathing life back into our blog, getting ready to share all of our creative and artistic explorations, our photography and the way it has evolved, and my own personal projects and the things I am learning. I won’t delete our old content, but really, this feels like a new blog, a new regular creative outlet for us. There are so many things I have wanted to share with our friends, our family, and our virtual loyal companions of the webosphere, but blogging has for some reason always scared me. Seth Godin, one of my favorite thinkers, describes the fear as the “Lizard Brain” in each of us, the animal-like fear of failure. I have periodically posted on this blog and have sometimes mass flooded it with 20+ posts at once just to catch it up. It was Jordin who showed me this year that I was capable of committing to something with absolute consistency. It was a night when she told me I should start drawing again to get back in touch with my childhood habit. She was working on a Photo 365 project where she took a picture a day for 365 days and suggested I join her with a drawing a day. With her cheering me on, I haven’t missed a day yet. Today is day 307. (For those interested, my daily drawing blog is at Drawings365.com)
As the new year begins, we are planning our method of attack to share all of the exciting changes in our art and the growth we are experiencing. This blog will not necessarily fit within the defined model of a successful wedding photographer, but my resolution this year is not to fit, it is just to share. I am still learning where exactly I fit. I do know that I am obsessively excited about people and expressions and their character and their stories and their emotions, and I see it growing in our photography as well as the other things I’m working on. I understand if these things won’t be interesting for some of you, but what I will be posting will be very exciting to me.
I will be posting every Tuesday. There will likely be more here and there, but Tuesdays will be the primary blogging day. If you are interested in keeping up with what we’re working on and exploring but don’t want to have to remember to come back, you can receive new posts conveniently in your email inbox by entering your email near the top of this page.
And now, in light of the new year, here is a brief recap of my creative pursuits up to this point: One year ago, Jordin and I were a year and a half into marriage, and I had just finished classes at the University of Michigan. I had actually finished my undergrad requirements in Performing Arts Technology the semester before, but I fought my way into staying another semester for a couple more classes. (That’s how much I love learning) Meanwhile I had been working on some pretty awesome movie sets and television shows with Dreamworks and NBC that I’ll post about later. I was working on our photography business by night and Jordin was working full time at our church, directing the arts in the weekend services. I spent the winter after graduating prepping our photography business for the busy summer season and figuring out what my long-term post-graduate career would be, whether it would be solely photography, that mixed in with motion picture, or even a creative position in an advertising agency. Then came a curve ball. In the midst of agency interviews and a busy photography season, I received a call out of nowhere, offering me a position on staff at the University of Michigan while getting a Masters in Media Arts, delivering the “Live Movie Musical” that I’ve been working on, as my senior thesis. This really changed everything. Once classes began this fall, we scrambled to keep up with the flow of full time photography while I began as a full time student with an hour commute and a new part time job on staff. It was only with the gracious help of some very important friends who joined our photography team that we were able to keep up. That very succinctly brings us to today. The gaps will likely be filled in as I continue to post pieces of the things I have been working on. In spite of everything else going on, I am completely obsessed with photography and will never stop. I may only be limited on how many hired projects we can do in the midst of school and my other job. We will be fitting in as many as humanly possible, because capturing priceless memories with beautiful imagery is incredibly life-giving for us, and incredibly important to us. I will be blogging it all here, as well as bits of my own creative projects, like the now brewing “Live Movie Musical” I’m working on. Some other time, I will share some more of that project. In the mean time, thanks for following! I can’t wait to share some of the beautiful places and people we’ve gotten to share life with this year!
Let’s take a break from our photography and my media projects to have a TECH TALK! I’ve been wondering whether a full-frame sensor camera would really make that big of a difference in our photography. So I rented a 5d mark II to compare to our 7D and other crop-sensor cameras. Hopefully this will help someone else trying to figure out how a full-frame would actually affect their photography.
First, a brief lesson on crop-sensors:
All Canon dSLRs with a model number higher than 5 (ie- 7D, 60D, all Rebels, etc) have crop-sensors. A crop-sensor crops the image of a full-frame sensor by a factor of 1.6. This means a 35mm lens on a crop-sensor camera actually looks more like a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera (35mm * 1.6 = 56mm). The 5D mkII and the 5D mkIII are both full frame cameras.
This is the exact same lens on the 7D, then on the 5D:
Yeah yeah, I knew that. HERE’S WHAT I WAS WONDERING: “Could I achieve the look of a full-frame camera by simply using wider lenses on my 7D crop-sensor camera? What would be the difference?”
Below, I tried to match the look of a 35mm 1.4L lens on a Canon 5d by using a 17-55mm 2.8 lens on a Canon 7D and zooming in to about 22mm (22mm * 1.6 = 35mm). Then I tried to match the depth of field by leaving the 17-55mm at f/2.8 and stopping the 35mm down to f/4.0. It seemed pretty close. Here’s the result:
To some, the difference may be indistinguishable. To me, it was eye-opening… literally, like my eye was never open all the way. Those who have upgraded to a full-frame sensor know what I’m talking about. I was wandering around our condo with the 5D pressed against my face feeling like, “All these years I’ve never seen the world through a camera the way it’s supposed to be seen!” It was as though I had been wearing horse blinders every time I had put a camera to my face… like someone had cropped off my peripheral!
Do you see how in the second image, everything appears to be very square, and in the first one, it all seems to be a little warped? See how the background is “smaller” in the first one? This is what happens when you use a wider lens. An extremely wide lens is called a fisheye and does this warping a lot. Using a 1.6 crop-sensor on a 22mm focal length lens does not turn it into a 35mm lens. It just crops a 22mm! You still have the same warping effect of using that wider lens, which is not very attractive on humans. It is impossible to exactly match the focal length look of a full frame camera by using a wider lens on a crop-sensor camera like the 7D.
That said, you don’t always need to match the focal length look of a full frame camera. In our own business, we’ve used mostly longer lenses, and have never used a full frame camera! The wider angle lenses on a full-frame body is just a look that, as we are growing in our style, we personally find beautiful, and we are excited about incorporating it into our future work. Explaining what that “look” is, requires an entire post of its own. This one was simply to answer my own question: No, you cannot achieve the look of a full-frame camera simply by placing a wider lens on a crop-sensor camera.
Very fun and very much in love, Tiffany and Reed came all the way from Wisconsin for their engagement session downtown Birmingham. I can’t wait for their wedding. We had a lot of fun just hanging out with them on this beautiful Saturday afternoon. Congrats you guys!