Lisa Mark Photography » Toronto & GTA Wedding Photography

Bloor Yorkville Engagement Photography in Toronto by Lisa Mark Photography

This beautiful pair is Christina & Michael – the adorable couple featured on our blog today!  These two were so much fun to shoot.  I just loved exploring the whole Bloor Yorkville area in downtown Toronto during their engagement session.  It’s always a lot of fun heading to a general area of downtown Toronto and just seeing what we can find.  I especially loved shooting in front of the Royal Ontario Museum, and shops like Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton.

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Humber Bay Park West, Etobicoke, engagement photography, Toronto

Meet Michelle & Steve – these two are super cute together and we shot their engagement photos at Humber Bay Park West in Etobicoke.  It was a great spot, suggested by the bride and groom-to-be.

My favourite moment had to be seeing these two giggle as they snuggled under a blanket together.  So romantic!

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Brenizer Method Photography Technique - Image by Lisa Mark Photography

Hi Guys,

This is going to be a bit of a photography nerd-type post today, so if you aren’t interested in the technical photo stuff please disregard.

When you’re a photographer for as long as I’ve been, it can sometimes get a little routine.  The best thing to do when that happens?  Try new things, of course!

I stumbled across the Brenizer Method recently and I happen to think it’s pretty neat.  I’ll give you a basic summary.  The Brenizer Method is a photography technique recently named for a very talented photographer named Ryan Brenizer who has now perfected this method in his work.  Basically, you have wide lenses in the world (think 35mm f/1.4) and long lenses (think 85 1.4).  These two are great prime lenses, and are highly sought after for their image quality, contrast and particularly their speed and therefore shallow depth of field.  When shooting wide open at 1.4, these lenses produce beautiful bokeh (the blurred out bits behind your subject).  However, a longer lens like the 85 1.4 will ALWAYS produce much more gorgeous bokeh than the 35mm lens, even though they are both wide open at 1.4.

As a result, if you shoot a close-up with that 85mm f/1.4 lens you get a great tight portrait with beautiful bokeh…but what if you wanted to shoot a larger scene and still get that soft background?  It doesn’t work if you just move back from your subject – you need to maintain that close position for the nice bokeh, so what now?

Well that’s when you use the Brenizer Method!  You ensure you take an initial exposure of your subject (who is holding very still) and then from there (on manual settings) you take a series of images all around them.  Afterwards, you stitch together these images in Photoshop (or any other panorama program) and create a giant composite.  If it works out, not only have you achieved a tack sharp subject, beautiful shallow depth of field, but also a wide field of view, previously impossible to achieve in-camera.  Also, it just happens that by stitching together so many images, you get an image that is crazy high in resolution!

Now I say IF it works out, because I am not going to lie to you.  It’s not super easy and takes some practice.  Honestly, sometimes I try to merge in Photoshop and the images just don’t line up like I wanted.  I find I’m successful at it like 50-60% of the time.  I tend to do my safe shots first and when I know I’ve got my “fall back” images, I experiment a little.  I like to think that’s why my clients like to work with us – because we like to try new things and keep it interesting creatively!

Moving on, when I was first researching this method I could find lots of examples of finished Brenizer Method images, but none comparing what it would have looked like if a wide angle lens, single exposure, were used instead.  So here are a few examples for you!

USING THE BRENIZER METHOD

Shot with Nikon 85 1.4 wide open, panorama using the Brenizer Method

Shot with Nikon 85mm f/1.4 wide open, using the Brenizer Method, about 30 images stitched together.

 

NOT USING THE BRENIZER METHOD

Shot with Nikon 35 1.4 wide open, single exposure only

Shot with Nikon 35mm f/1.4 wide open, single exposure only.

 

As you can see from the above example, by shooting with a longer lens wide open and then stitching together in post-production you can achieve that dreamy, surreal sort of look.  The first image above is comprised of around 30 different images.

Here’s another example:

USING THE BRENIZER METHOD

Shot with Nikon 85 1.4 wide open, panorama using the Brenizer Method, about 50 images stitched together to achieve super shallow depth of field.

Shot with Nikon 85mm f/1.4 wide open, using the Brenizer Method, about 50 images stitched together.

 

NOT USING THE BRENIZER METHOD

Shot with Nikon 24-70mm at 24mm, f/2.8 wide open, single exposure only.

Shot with Nikon 24-70mm at 24mm, f/2.8 wide open, single exposure only.

 

I hope this has been helpful!  I’ve loved experimenting with this method, it’s a lot of fun.  If you want to learn in depth how to create a Brenizer Method image, the man who finessed the technique has created his own educational video which you can buy for a total steal of $10!  Here’s the link:  http://brenizermethod.vhx.tv

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  • August 14, 2014 - 9:54 am

    Laura - I have been working on the Brenizer method for a while now. I love that you showed a photo with and without the method. ( A picture speaks a thousand words) Thanks for the share and explanation. Lovely work all around. Cheers, Laura

  • August 14, 2014 - 11:49 am

    Ottawa Photographer - Thanks so much for posting how to do the brenizer method. I was pretty clueless. I will have to try this out.

Downtown Toronto engagement photography in The Junction by Toronto wedding photographer Lisa Mark

Meet Alex & Pedro – two very close friends of ours!  We actually shot their wedding last weekend (a gorgeous day all around) and while we can’t wait to share their wedding day with you, let’s begin at the beginning: their engagement shoot!

This adorable twosome call the downtown Toronto neighbourhood of The Junction home.  Alex & Pedro love relaxing at 3030 Dundas West (their local bar hangout) where they can chill and play some pinball when the mood strikes.  I seriously fell in love with these vintage pinball machines – so cool!

We took a little walk around the neighbourhood and got a few great shots in front of this really cool wall mural right off of Dundas St. West, when out of nowhere it started raining!  We looked around us and immediately a store called Metropolis Living caught my eye.  They had the most amazing retro light up signs in their front window and many random vintage artefacts.  I highly recommend checking this place out – it’s amazing!  I particularly adore their vintage LOVE sign and could not resist photographing Alex & Pedro in front of it.

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The Top Five Most Unique Toronto Wedding Venues by Lisa Mark Photography
As a wedding photographer I have seen so many venues – everything from banquet halls to outdoor weddings.  Many folks are happy with a more traditional location for their nuptials, but what if you want something different for your wedding venue?  A location that is so out of the box that your wedding guests will remember it always? Well, check out my list of The Top 5 Most Unique Toronto Wedding Venues to see if your dream venue is listed here:

5) The Art Gallery of Ontario

Located on Dundas St. West, the Art Gallery of Ontario has been a hot spot in Toronto for years, but mostly for a cultural outing.  People don’t automatically think of the Art Gallery of Ontario when they think “wedding”, but they should!

The AGO is a spectacular venue for a wedding in Toronto.  There are so many different areas inside, including Walker Court (shown setup for a wedding ceremony below) and Gallery Italia, with its beautiful wooden architecture and huge windows & beautiful light.

The best part?  Photography is now allowed inside the galleries themselves!  This is an amazing opportunity to create some beautiful portraits, and it’s even a great indoor location in case of rain on your wedding day.

 

4) The Berkeley Church

Next on our list is one of our favourite venues in Toronto.  A total haven for anyone who wants a more edgy wedding venue, The Berkeley Church not only delivers on ambiance but also has amazing food!  The braised short rib is to die for.  But enough about food…

There are so many nooks and crannies in this place that I could probably find places to shoot all day long.  The Berkeley Church was built in 1871 and is full of historic charm.

From the exposed brick to the stained glass ceremony area upstairs, the whole place just exudes the coolest vibe. It’s definitely one of the most special & unique places in Toronto to get married.

 

3) The Berkeley Field House at Taddle Creek

Although it’s right next door, The Berkeley Field House at Taddle Creek is a completely different venue than its neighbouring Berkeley Church. The Berkeley Field House offers indoor space with painted white wooden walls, a gorgeous chandelier, mirrors, a spiral staircase and more.  There’s also a really gorgeous outdoor patio space which can be used for somewhat intimate ceremonies and cocktail receptions.  It’s a nice size for small wedding. One of the coolest features of the Berkeley Field House has got to be the treehouse.  Yes, I said the treehouse.  It’s this amazing wooden treehouse structure built up high above the outdoor party space.  You take a huge flight of stairs to get up to it and inside it a great spot to shoot some groomsmen getting ready photos.  Pretty amazing and unique for downtown Toronto!

 

2) McLean House at Estates of Sunnybrook

We have shot weddings at the Estates of Sunnybrook for years but at the neighbouring Vaughan Estate (which is also lovely!) but we only recently discovered the little gem that is McLean House.

Located in Toronto, but nicely out of the downtown core, sits the beautiful McLean House.  This Toronto wedding venue has so many great spots to take advantage of when planning your wedding day.  We loved the outdoor ceremony space behind the house, where you can tie the knot surrounded by beautiful greenery.

As a photographer I loved how many great nooks there were while shooting the bride’s portraits upstairs.  Every detail at McLean House is gorgeous and it’s almost like old meets new when you see details like the stunning modern chandelier that is hanging in the hallway.

A great space for an intimate wedding, check out McLean House if your guest count is smaller (seats 72 for dinner inside) and you want something with amazing ambiance.  But be aware – there is apparently a history of funny happenings that have led some folks to believe that McLean House might be a wee bit haunted.  We didn’t notice anything strange when we visited, but maybe next time, eh?

 

1) The Burroughes Building

… And our #1 most unique Toronto wedding venue has to be The Burroughes Building.  This one is a more recent additional to the slew of interesting places to get married downtown, and it’s unique because it was originally built as a department store back in 1907, and it apparently the tallest building in its neighbourhood of Queen Street West. Although it’s been totally renovated, the owners did a wonderful job maintaing that cool retro exposed brick style which is encompassed throughout the Burroughes Building.

My favourite detail has to be the amazing Burroughes lettering painted on the wall where your wedding reception takes place.  It’s such a special and unique backdrop for reception photos.

The Burroughes Building also offers a Rooftop Terrace, which is great for guests during cocktail hour.  It even has a pretty great view of the CN Tower!

Check out the Burroughes Building if you want somewhere really different for your wedding.  As with many of the more unique Toronto wedding venues, this one isn’t massive and is best suited to a small or mid-size wedding if you are having a seated reception.

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  • August 11, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Christine March - Terrific list Lisa. I share your enthusiasm for all of these wonderful venues. Toronto couples are so lucky; there is such an amazing variety of venues available!

  • August 11, 2014 - 9:27 am

    Lisa Mark Photography - Thanks Christine! They sure are!