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Friday, 27 September 2013
Ten Reasons To Choose Ayer Photography of Vermont
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: Wedding Tips

In the current economy there are so many choices when it comes to selecting a photographer for your wedding, event or portrait, that it can be confusing.  Where do you begin?  Who is right for you?  What should you look for?  

This post answers the question of why you would choose a professional photographer in general, and why you would choose Ayer Photography of Vermont in particular.  The truth of the matter is that not all photographers are created equal, not all have the same operating principles, and not all have the same personality or guiding vision.   Furthermore, what is a good compromise for some customers will be a poor choice for others. 

And in the case of a wedding, it is about a lot more than just the images - it is also about the full experience - many customers opt for a photographer, who will do more than document the event - they want someone who will enrich their day and make it better, while also capturing great photographs. 

Our most recent bride and groom just sent us a thank you card.  They wrote, "thank you, thank you, thank you!  We are so excited to see how our pictures look.  We had such a great time and you were there to capture everything.  You helped us both feel at ease and I know our pictures will be great!  You were both so wonderful to work with.  Thanks again!"  They sent it to us while on their honeymoon and before they had seen more than a small fraction of the final images!  They were thanking us for the experience, as most of our customers do!  This is one of several reasons our customers select us for their wedding photography; and then refer us to their friends and families.   


Some of the elements that our customers have told us differentiate us from some of our competitors are as follows:   

Professional Artistry        

Our artistic goal is to tell the story of what makes our clients uniquely special, and the treasured relationships they have with the people, with whom they are connected in this life.  We do this through photographic art, that touches the heart and reflects their priceless value.   

Take a look through our galleries and albums to get a sense of how our artistic vision captures real events and emotions; and even see how it has evolved over the years.  While art is always a subjective thing, indications that our art is appreciated include:  a) multiple repeat and referral customers, b) peer recognition and awards in professional competitions, and c) our images being selected for publication in regional magazines, including two covers.       

Professional Albums     

At heart we are storytellers - some long, some short - but stories, nonetheless.  That is to say, our images have something to say about their subjects - about who they are, what they are like, and who they love.  This aspect of our business is most fully realized, when we produce an album.  From the moment we pick up our cameras we are working on your album, your story - collecting all the images and other elements we will need to tell it professionally. 

Then we custom design your story.  While some of our competitors offer little more than a photographer's portfolio, we tell your story, with your favorite images and give you final approval of our final design.  We do not use templates; and we do not use stock photos or graphical elements.  Every image and embellishment comes from your wedding.

Once the design is complete and approved, we print and bind it, creating an heirloom quality product in one of our three album styles, or two photobook styles.  We have produced multiple albums of each of our styles with album partners, that have a proven ability to repeatedly and consistently meet our exacting standards for print quality and accuracy and attention to every detail of high-quality album construction.  Even then the final album must pass our designer's final inspection, before it is delivered to you.  


Professional Quality           

While it is nice to be lucky, consistent high quality products and services is rarely an accident.  We work at it.  We understand for example the twelve elements of a high quality image and apply our experience and knowledge to achieving them every time.  We retouch every single image before we present it to you--you do not have to imagine what it could look like.  We use professional grade materials, equipment and software.  We use only proven professional lab partners and rigorously calibrate our equipment with theirs to achieve a consistent quality output.  Our labs inspect and correct every single product to our exacting standards of excellence, and every product partner has to demonstrate repeated consistent quality to remain our partner... right down to how it is packaged and shipped.     

Professional Customer Experience         

Our tagline is "Telling Your Story In Pictures!"  When we take your photograph, or design and produce the final product, we do apply our artistic vision and expertise.  But we always remember it is your story, it is your wedding, it is your heirloom album or piece of wall décor.  How we execute that vision is as important as the final product.  This is why we take the time to talk to you and get to know you before the event or session.  At a wedding, for example, we want to be as unobtrusive as possible - it is your wedding, not ours, and the final product should reflect that.  It is also why, for example, we will ask you to select your favorite images for inclusion in your album.  While we will design it and make it as artistic as we know how, we will use the images you love best.  At the end of the day, it is your album, that you will treasure and show to your grandchildren 

Professional Communication          

Nobody likes surprises.  So we make every effort to communicate clearly and completely.  This is why we have a website, that shows more than pretty pictures.  While we know that you need to see examples of our work, we also know that that is only one step in your decision-making process to hire a professional photographer.  We describe our products and encourage every potential customer to come and meet with us face-to-face.  We will answer all your questions and give you a good opportunity to see how our personality meshes with yours.  Like us, we assume you want your decision to be an informed one, based on facts and clear understandings, rather than guesswork or assumptions.      

Professional Equipment       

We use only professional equipment that requires a serious investment.  While we realize that under ideal conditions, an experienced photographer can probably produce a good image with consumer-grade cameras and lenses.  The trouble with weddings, for example, is that conditions are very often far from ideal for some part, if not all of the day.  It is under less than ideal conditions that professional grade cameras, lenses, and other equipment enable the professional to produce quality images.  Our prime camera body, for example, is a Canon EOS 1D mark IV on which we mount only Canon "L-series" lenses.  And our backup is a Canon EOS 1D mark III.  Such equipment costs many times more than the prosumer models.  But we made the investment so that we can still "get all the shots," even when conditions are far from ideal.      

Professional Experience              

Our lead photographer, Warren, has been taking photographs for other people for over fifty years.  We have been offering professional wedding, event, and portrait photography services as Ayer Photography of Vermont for over ten years.  During that last ten years, we have photographed weddings in barns, hotels, ballrooms, tents, fields, and forests; in simple country churches, historical landmarks, and ornate cathedrals; on hilltops, mountaintops, beaches, porches, and boats; in the harsh sun of day, the cool shade, the warm light of afternoon, candle light, star light, fire light, or under fireworks; in spring, summer, fall, and winter; windy, calm, rainy, and even snowy.  We have photographed weddings based on Christian, Celtic, Vedic (Hindu), Peruvian Indian, and even made-up traditions.  Your wedding or event will be unique with its special and traditional elements, but chances are, we have seen something like it before, and will be prepared.   

Professional Association           

No true professional ever stops learning.  There is always something new - new equipment, new software, new techniques, new products and new trends.  We are members of several professional organizations (e.g., Professional Photographers of America, Wedding & Portrait Photographers International, and Vermont Professional Photographers).  We take advantage of their conferences, workshops, and specialized training to get better, to take our craft to the next level -- year after year producing better products and higher quality service, than we did the year before.   

Professional Ethics       

We live in challenging times - where the media floods us with one pitch after another.  Sometimes it is hard to sort out.  This is why we state up front, that we are not in it for the quick sale.  We want your referrals and return business.  For that we need your trust. 

As professionals we subscribe to a code of ethics to treat people fairly and honestly with integrity and respect.  It also means, for example, that we will not disparage our competitors, nor will we even talk to you, if you have already committed to one of our competitors.  What we will do, is explain our products, services, and terms as clearly as we know how, we will keep our commitments to the best of our abilities, and deliver what we promise.  As members in good standing of Professional Photographers of America and of Vermont Professional Photographers we specifically subscribe to their codes of ethics, published on their respective websites.    

Professional Solvency     

We have been in business as Ayer Photography of Vermont for over ten years. We are not a fly-by-night, here-today gone-tomorrow operation. We are in it for the long haul. We have founded our enterprise on sound business practices -- we pay our taxes, we meet our commitments, and we charge enough to pay all of our expenses, whether it is for equipment, advertising, insurance, training, or the materials and service to build your album. Oftentimes, wedding customers will hire us more than a year in advance of their wedding, and then not make their last selection until months after their ceremony. We have structured our business, so that we will be able to meet our commitments well into the future. Our customers deserve one less thing to worry about.

Posted by Warren and Linda    

Ayer Photography of Vermont         

Posted by ayerphoto at 3:48 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 October 2013 1:56 PM EDT
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Monday, 23 September 2013
A Stowe Fall Wedding At Trapp Family Lodge
Mood:  flirty
Topic: Weddings

We had long hoped for an opportunity to photograph a wedding at Trapp Family Lodge; and it arrived this year!  Our final wedding of the 2013 season took place just as autumn arrived on September 21, 2013.  It was a destination wedding, the couple arriving from out of state only two days before the wedding.  They were familiar with the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, having visited several times earlier.  

Even though they said the Green Mountains "were hills" compared to the Rockies, they still found them romantically perfect for their nuptials.  The weather was near perfect - not too hot, not too cool!  Fall was just arriving, with a few trees with advanced color, but most still fairly green.  

As we met with them the night before the wedding to scout out locations for some of their photographs, we walked through the Trapp Family garden across from the main lodge.  The sun was beginning to set to our backs to the west, as the moon rose in front of us to the east over the sunflowers.  

When you are up high like that on a clear evening when sunset and moonrise occur almost simultaneously, the moon takes on a very yellow-orange glow of harvest.  

We asked the couple where the ceremony would be held on the grounds and they said they had not yet decided.  So, we had to arrive early the day of the ceremony and call them to find out exactly where everyone would gather.  While such a laid back approach to wedding planning might not be practical with a huge wedding, this was a small intimate affair, making it far easier to be more relaxed and "go with the flow."  

The day of the wedding brought sunshine and light warm breezes.  It was a beautiful day in the Green Mountains.  As it turned out, the couple choose to have their small ceremony out behind the main lodge among the apple trees.  The Trapp Family staff had rustled up some branches from some of the trees with more mature color and added a few pumpkins and our fall decorations were complete.  As the appointed time approached, one key person was still missing - the officiant.  They had asked Rev. Bruce Comiskey from the Community Church in Stowe to perform the ceremony, but had neglected to tell him the exact site they had chosen.  

Wth the help of the Lodge staff, he soon found us and the two were joined in holy matrimony.  

One of the great things about a small wedding is that we wind up with a lot more time to photograph the newlyweds - instead of the sometimes daunting logistics of a mulitude of group formals that so often accompany very large weddings.  

And of course the beautful grounds of Trapp Family Lodge afforded us so many options for picturesque spots as we took our time.  

We even found a small pond to capture a reflection before the light failed us completely and we had to join the other guests inside.  

The reception was held inside the main lodge complex in the Strauss Room.  Dinner was served by the Trapp Family Lodge chefs.  I was particularly impressed with the corn chowder.  I never knew corn could taste so good.  Linda really loved the chicken that seemed to be soaked in maple syrup.  

Toasts and dancing followed dinner and then they cut the cake.  

It was a beautiful wedding on a beautiful fall day in the Green Mountains.  Perhaps you could say it was a "Sound of Music" day!

Of course it takes a team of people to pull off a great wedding celebration, even when it is small. Here are some of the professionals that worked together to make this day a delight!

Wedding Professionals:

All other photographs from this wedding are reserved for family and friends only in password protected galleries:

Posted by Warren       

Ayer Photography of Vermont                    

Posted by ayerphoto at 2:12 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 28 October 2013 3:24 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Vedic Wedding Ceremony
Mood:  special
Topic: Wedding Tips

In August of this year, we had an opportunity to photograph a Vedic (Hindu) wedding ceremony.  In fact you can see our blog post for that wedding on this blog under Weddings (Erik & Dimple).  Since that time, however, we have had some inquiries about the ceremony itself, since it is so different from a typical American ceremony, religious or civil.    

So, at the bride's suggestion, we decided to write another blog essentially describing the ceremony with photos, using the program as a guide.  So, rather than focusing on the love story of the bride and groom as we did in our regular posting, this one focuses on the Indian wedding customs and traditions, some of which are religious in origin and others from Indian culture.  While many Indian weddings can be a week-long series of events, the one we photographed was just two-days, beginning with Mehndi Night the evening before the wedding ceremony itself.

Mehndi Night

The night before a wedding is known as the 'Night of Henna” or Mehndi when the bride's hands and feet are decorated with elaborate designs.  The designs are usually floral with some signifying fertility.

I am told that there are a number of traditions associated with the henna.  The groom at the wedding we photographed told the assembled crowd of family and friends that the amount of henna the bride applies is indicative of how much she loves the bridegroom.  One of the guests also explained that how long the henna on the bride's hands lasts is indicative of how well she is cared for (it lasts longer if she does not have to do any chores),  Finally, I read on the web that in some cases the groom's name is hidden within the right palm of the bride, and he must find it before he is allowed to sleep on his wedding night.  

Clothing was of course traditional Indian.   

Wedding Day Attire

The next day saw all new traditional outfits for both the bride and groom.  Most interesting to western brides will be the fact that the Indian bride traditionally wears a red or maroon gown, rather than white.  I am told that in the Indian culture, white is usually reserved for funerals.  At an Indian wedding, the clothes are so colorful, the only flowers are usually just in petal form. 

As you might guess, it takes a very long time to get an Indian bride fully dressed and ready for the ceremony.  

Swagatam - Welcoming Groom

Once all is ready, the groom will arrive accompanied by his family and friends, where they are greeted by the bride's family and the priest.  

When all have arrived, they proceed in sort of a parade to the wedding location to the beat of an ancient Indian drum.  

At the entrance to the wedding location, the bride's family greets the groom.  The groom is fed sweets and then escorted to the spot where the wedding ceremony will take place.  

Antarpat - Curtain Ceremony

Once the groom is in place, a curtain is held up to block his view so he will be unable to see the bride's grand entrance.  The bride then enters, accompanied by four male members of her family. 

Only after the bride is in her spot on the Mandap, will the curtain be lowered and the groom be able to see his bride-to-be. 


Welcome & Invocation 

The priest welcomes both families and offers invocation prayers. 

Jaimala - Garland Exchange  

The bride and groom then exchange garlands of flowers, symbolizing their acceptance of matrimony.  

Offering of Sweets & Announcement

The bride's family then offers sweets to the groom, after which the priest invokes God's blessing and officially announces the wedding, inviting the guests to be witnesses.     

Kanyadaan - Giving Away The Bride

The groom is requested to accept the bride as an equal partner in his life. Water is poured over the groom's palms and flowing down onto the bride's. This is said to symbolize the continuity of the life cycle and passing of heritage to the next generation.    

Tying The Knot  

Attendants then tie the bride's and groom's clothing together symbolizing the bonding of the two together for all time.  

Pani-Grahan, Shilarohan, Lajahom

The priest then has the bride and groom recite a series of pledges and prayers, accepting each other as husband and wife. 


Next, while the priest chants hymns, the bride and groom walk around the fire seven times.  During this ceremony, the groom led the first three times around and the bride led the next three.  I heard someone suggest whoever leads the last time around will be the leader of the marriage.   

As the couple makes their way around, they are showered with rose petals. When they finally return to their seats, they switch places, so that the bride is now to the groom's left in order "to be nearer to his heart."

Seven Marriage Vows

The bride and groom walk seven steps. At each step they take another marriage vow. 

They conclude with an exchange of vows that include accepting each other's family as their own.

Sindoor, Mangalasutra & Ring Exchange

During this part of the ceremony, the groom applies vemillion powder in the part of the bride's hair, which in Indian culture indicates that she is now his wife. He then gives her a necklace, signifying good luck, love and friendship.    

While not normally a part of an Indian wedding, this couple chose to also exchange rings, as is common in most western weddings. 

Surya Darshan 

The Mandap is set up in such a way that as the bride and groom exit to the side, they will be taking their first steps together toward the sun, "that there may always be light shining on them."   

As the couple makes their departure, they may receive blessings from family and friends.

Following the ceremony the couple will change clothes again for the reception.  

The Vedic ceremony above was held on the terrace of the Sunset Ballroom in South Burlington, Vermont, overlooking Lake Champlain. All photographs are © 2013 Ayer Photography.

Posted by Warren

Ayer Photography of Vermont   




Posted by ayerphoto at 11:19 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 12 September 2013 9:18 AM EDT
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Sunday, 8 September 2013
Are You Ready For Some Football?
Mood:  energetic
Topic: Pix of Week

As fall is rapidly approaching we find ourselves in the mood to watch some live football.  Fortunately, we live near several high schools with football programs, so off we went.  It was also a chance to try some sports shots under fairly demanding conditions.  This is because the first two games were under the lights.  And unlike pro stadiums, these lights left a lot to be desired when attempting to stop action without a flash on a football field (from the bleachers). 

We read up on Scott Kelby's settings that he uses when shooting the Atlanta Falcons, but found our lighting not nearly as good as his.  As a result we could not push our shutter speeds over 1/1000 th for lack of light.  We also found like most sports, anticipation is crucial to have a chance of getting something dramatic. 

Our first game was that of Champlain Valley Union (CVU) playing Colchester High School at Colchester, Vermont.  Our grandson played in this game, so for some of the time I followed him and got this shot of him (#25) tackling the Colchester Laker runner.    

For the camera / photo enthusiasts, the shot specifics were:

Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Lens: Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L IS USM with 1.4x Extender at 290 mm 

Exposure: 1/640 at f/4, and ISO 4000

Settings: Manual Mode, Parital Metering, no flash  

The resulting images had a fair amount of digital noise, especially since even with the aperture wide open they were still a bit underexposed.  We had to use Nik Software Dfine 2.0 to clean them up prior to posting.

Champlain Valley Union won this season opener, so we decided to follow them to their next game the following week.  That game was against the Essex Hornets at Essex.  These bleachers were set back a little further from the field and the resulting lighting from photography was worse.  In addition the Essex uniforms were a little darker making it more difficult to get a sharp focus.

The camera settings turned out to be similar, but we found a shutter speed of 1/800 worked a little better to stop action.  We also found ourselves panning much more in this game and had to switch the Image Stabilization to the panning mode to get a sharper image.  ISO was still at 4000, but we had to brighten images even more in post processing to make up for underexposure in camera. 

Essex took the lead early and maintained it most of the time through the third quarter, but only by a few points.    

In the fourth quarter in the waning minutes of the game CVU managed to get three interceptions, scored and turned the game around.  They then held them scoreless and finally ran the clock out to win the game. 

One of my favorite shots from that game is of the jubilant CVU coaches after the first interception and score that put CVU in the lead.  Don't they look happy?  

We are really looking forward to our first day game with real daylight to work with to see what we will get. 

If you would like to see some more of out shots from these games, check out these game galleries here:  

     CVU vs. Colchester       

     CVU vs. Essex      

Posted by Warren

Ayer Photography of Vermont          

Posted by ayerphoto at 4:49 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 9 September 2013 10:42 AM EDT
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Monday, 19 August 2013
The Advani-Shanks Vedic Wedding
Mood:  happy
Topic: Weddings

One of the great things about being a wedding photographer is getting to meet new people at a joyous event.  But occasionally you meet old friends when you least expect it.  Such was the case with our latest wedding. 

We first met the bride, Dimple, at Needleman's Bridal Expo.  She booked an appointment to come and talk to us in more detail, but it had to be out a ways after she returned from her trip to India.  That was our first hint that this wedding would be a little different than our usual fare.  For while we had photographed weddings in the past that incorporated Indian decorations or elements into their otherwise American / western weddings, this was our first where they incorporated only a couple American traditions into their otherwise Indian / Vedic wedding activities. 

Our second surprise was meeting so many old friends at the event itself.  It turned out that many of the bride's family had worked or still work at IBM.  And back long before I began Ayer Photography, back before I consulted with Eastman Kodak, and long before my IBM career took me out of Vermont and around the globe, we had worked side-by-side as young engineers - back when a million bits on a chip was a big deal!  So, it was a bit like a reunion - catching up on 30-plus years with friends you barely recognize, yet surprised at what you still remember.    

As we got to know Erik and Dimple, I asked them how they got engaged.  Dimple told me that after dating three years, she "knew he was the man (she) wanted to spend the rest of (her) life with."  It was on the occasion of their third anniversary together that Erik took Dimple on a surprise trip to New York City.  Erik kept trying to convince Dimple to go to the top of the Empire State Building, but her fear of heights held her back.  So, he was forced to go with his backup plan and proposed when they returned to their hotel.  Dimple described it as, "I couldn't believe it.  He was so sweet and he was so nervous!  But he proposed before he turned thirty, just as I wanted." 

She went on to say that the story of their engagement typified their courtship.  She said, "he goes with the flow and I always plan things.  But sometimes it is important to just let things happen.  Either way, it always works out with us - sometimes planned, sometimes going with the flow and realizing how being in the moment can become so special and show our true love for each other."  

When it came to the wedding, they chose to have it at the Sunset Ballroom overlooking beautiful Lake Champlain.  And facing west as it does will often experience a sunset when the weather cooperates.  They chose the weekend of August 17-18 as a way of honoring Erik's mother.  This was just one of many elements that made this a very family-centric wedding celebration. 

In keeping with her family traditions, Dimple had long dreamed of having an Indian Vedic wedding ceremony.  While there are almost as many variations as there are Indian dialects, she was able to incorporate several core traditions and rituals into her wedding. 

It began with Mehndi night, a celebration held at the Hampton Inn Champlain Ballroom in Colchester, Vermont.  Mehndi, or Henna, as it is sometimes known in the western world, refers to the creation of intricate decorative skin designs by the artistic application of henna paste.  The paste will create a temporary stain where applied to the skin as it dries.  The groom told those gathered at the celebration that the amount of henna the bride chose to have applied was traditionally proportional to how much love she has for her husband-to-be.  Tradition also has it, one of the guests explained, that how long the mehndi lasts is indicative to how well the bride is cared for after the wedding.      

When we went to photograph the bride getting ready, we found that the Hindu bride does not wear white (white in the Indian culture is usually reserved for funerals). Instead, her intricate gown is a bold red or maroon.  In fact all the clothing for an Indian wedding is boldly colored and intricately beaded.  So colorful is the clothing that flowers are only used in petal form or in garlands during the ceremony and as table decoration at the reception.  A western wedding is almost monochromatic by comparison.  

The wedding itself begins with Swagatam, or the welcoming of the groom.  The bride's family greets the groom and his family and then escorts him to the wedding location.  As the bride makes her entrance, the groom his hidden behind a curtain.  Only after she has made her grand entrance and is standing next to him, is the curtain finally removed. 

Parents and family play a much stronger and more visible role in a Vedic wedding than a typical western ceremony.  And parts of the ritual are quite beautiful and touching even for those of us who did not understand a word that was said (because it was all in a language foreign to us).  Food is exchanged, and garlands of flowers are exchanged, as are vows.  Normally, I am told, the groom places a necklace on the bride instead of the exchange of rings.  Erik and Dimple, however, did both.  

Following the ceremony, the bride changes into a third beautiful, intricate and heavy gown before joining the reception.  The reception was more familiar to those of us with more experience with western weddings.  Introductions, toasts, dinner, cutting of the cake and first dances are celebration elements common to most of the weddings we have photographed.  Because Erik's mother had passed away, he danced with his sister and announced he was dedicating an emotional dance to her memory.


As we went out on the roof to take a few portraits, the sun began to set.  And while not the most dramatic we have ever seen, the sky did grace us with a touch of orange to add its blessing to a great day!    

Of course it takes a fairly large team of people to pull off a great wedding celebration like Erik and Dimple's. Here are some of the professionals that worked together to make this day a delight!

Wedding Professionals:

To see additional photographs from Erik and Dimple's wedding-related events:

For more details about the wedding ceremony itself (and some of our photos), see our blog post regarding the Vedic Wedding Ceremony.

Posted by Linda & Warren

Posted by ayerphoto at 7:36 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 September 2013 3:56 PM EDT
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Friday, 16 August 2013
A Panoramic View
Mood:  spacey
Topic: Pix of Week

I had to go the Sunset Ballroom the other day to go over some plans for an upcoming wedding.  If you have never been there, it is worth a trip to stop in.  It is located on Shelburne Road in South Burlington on the top floor of the Comfort Inn Suites.  And when the weather cooperates you can walk out of the ballroom onto a rooftop patio with a great view of Lake Champlain, and on occasion, a sunset since you are facing west. 

After we had finished discussing all the arrangements for a complicated setup, I hung around on the roof for a while taking a few shots.  (Well, it was a sunny day, so I brought my camera - who wouldn't?)  It was way too early in the day for a sunset, in fact the light was still high enough to be a bit harsh, but I decided to try a hand-held panoramic shot. 

To do this you set the camera on manual and take a series of shots, such that they overlap, but when stitched together will form one very large panoramic file.  I had only tried this manually in the past, and only with a few images.  This time I took five and decided to test PhotoShop's automated PHOTOMERGE feature

Since it was so bright, I also used Nik Color Efex Detail Extractor on the raw files to bring out more details in the shadow and light extremes.  Once complete, it looks really weird shaped, so I then crop out the part of interest and fit it to the longest aspect ratio my lab will print in a standard size, which is 4:1.  Here is the end result - my panorama of Lake Champlain from the Sunset Ballroom.    

While this blog post is only a low res file, the original is huge and will easily print at full quality at over 5 feet wide and even more on canvas.

For the camera / photo enthusiasts, the shot specifics were:

Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Lens: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L USM at 24 mm 

Exposure: 1/500 at f/9, and ISO 160

Settings: Manual Mode, Parital Metering, no flash

My past experiments with earlier generations of stitching software did not always produce pleasing results and too easily got confused as to how the images went together.  But this one did just fine, even in the distorted extremes that I cropped off.

So next time you are on the roof of a tall building, take the wide view. 

Posted by Warren   

Ayer Photography of Vermont       


Posted by ayerphoto at 7:24 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 16 August 2013 7:51 PM EDT
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Thursday, 8 August 2013
SmugMug Migration Live
Mood:  surprised
Topic: Ayer Photo Website

If you have been following our blog for a while, you know that website updates and particularly host platform changes have not gone well for us.  In one case it was an unmitigated disaster.  So, when our gallery / store host, SmugMug announced that it was launching a new platform, my first reaction was "Oh No!"  I was fully expecting to be dealing with bugs and features that did not live up to their promise for many long weeks.  I am happy to report.  No, make that extremely happy and relieved to report that that was not the case. 

Yes, there were lots of frustrating moments, and I still have them.  However, they were all related to my lack of experience with the new platform and my seeming aversion to making sure I am editing a single page and not all the pages at once.  They color coded the editing blocks and I still messed up way more times than I should have.  But I am getting better, especially after having to go through and undo so many inadvertent edits. 

The old SmugMug was little more than a database of galleries.  It was customizable, but only with a fair amount of coding knowledge that I never took the time to acquire.  So many of our customers probably never really understood what our gallery site looked like, because they just went directly to their gallery with a link and never looked around from there.  And we certainly did not encourage them, because it was not really conducive to casual browsing.  In addition there was minimal ability to incorporate text that would explain anything.  

The new SmugMug is now close to a complete photo-centric website platform.  It lacks some key functionality to be a complete solution, but we are able to distribute much more of our site to the SmugMug platform without forcing you to come back to our main site just to navigate to another gallery, for example.

So, only 8 days after the SmugMug launch and only 5 days after I started working on the migration, we have gone live with our new gallery site.  And it is more than just a new look.  We have completely reorganized our gallery structure, made it browsable by both prospective customers who want to see our portfolio, and current customers looking for the images from their session or event.  It addresses many questions right within the gallery site without having to return to the main site whenever text is required.

We hope you will take a look at it and let us know what you think.   

As with any major overhaul, some links had to change.  We have tried diligently to test all our gallery links and fix those that had to be changed.  But if you find one we missed, please let us know so we can correct the coding.

Now, without further adieu, here is a direct link to our new gallery site. 

Check it out!  We hope you like it!

Posted by Warren

Ayer Photography of Vermont                  

Ayer Photography Galleries                


     Trey Ratcliff's full review         

     Scott Kelby's impressions                  

Posted by ayerphoto at 12:48 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 8 August 2013 1:28 PM EDT
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Monday, 15 July 2013
The Wells-Zorzi Wedding
Mood:  hug me
Topic: Weddings

This past weekend's wedding was that of Doug Zorzi and Joanne Wells. It was beautiful in no small part because for once the rain held off and we were treated to sunshine, comfortable temperatures and dry dirt roads, instead of muddy dirt roads. This was particularly important for this wedding because the ceremony was held at the Old West Church.

The Old West Church was a new venue for us and if you want to go there, we recommend that you take an old fashioned paper map, if you do not know your way around. It is located in one of those places in Vermont where you get zero bars of service - no GPS, no cell, no LTE, and not even SMS for text. 

The National Park Service describes the Old West Church as "an extremely well preserved meeting house, that has served the community of Calais (Vermont) since 1825."   It is further reported that the First Meeting House Society of Calais was formed 1823 "to select a plan for a meeting house." 

A plaque on the wall of the church says that it was funded by selling boxed pews.  And in fact it is these boxes that make it somewhat unique in that not all of the seats face forward.  And as the photographer who needed to get from one side to the other during the ceremony - it made for some very circuitous routes.  While the designer is unknown, some believe the selected plan may have been that of the moderator of this Society, Caleb Curtiss, who had migrated from Salisbury, Connecticut. Curtiss family tradition holds that Caleb's plan drew upon his memory of the Salisbury Meeting House.  Other interesting features include an accessible three-sided balcony.   

Tradition has it that the church was originally owned by six denominations, the Baptists, Universalists, Congregationalists, Christians, Free Will Baptists, and Methodists. But, the building was also used for secular purposes such as community meetings and plays.  And while it has a couple of wood stoves for heat, my grand daughter, who lives near there and has attended Christmas events there says that it can be quite cold inside in winter.  But that was not a concern for this wedding in July.  Instead we worried that it might get too hot, but an overcast sky made for near ideal conditions - temperature wise.       

We first met the bride, Joanne, at one of Needleman's Bridal Expo's in the initial planning stages of her wedding.  When we later sat down with her and her husband-to-be, Doug, we knew it would be a great event and unique in many ways!  When I asked them about their love story, they said, "We found true love the second time around.  We now have the perfect family of three sons and three daughters."   

Interestingly enough, it was Doug that had three sons, one of which was unable to attend because he is currently serving in the military.   

But they were a great group and fun to work with.  When we spied an old overpass near where the groomsmen were getting ready, we got them to give us their version of the famous finger-snapping scene from West Side Story.     

And Joanne, as you probably guessed by now, has three daughters, all of whom were able to participate in the grand event as bridesmaids.  One of them makes jewelry and provided all the necklaces and earrings for the three sisters.    

When you have a group as close as this one, and they have a great sense of humor, it makes for some great spontaneous moments.  It is at those times, I almost love the "outtakes" better than the formal posed shots because they show fun authentic spontaneous joy - that cannot be faked!  

And others are a bit more contrived, but they made them so much fun! 

We often warn brides and grooms that not everything will go according to plan.  Something will go wrong - hopefully minor - but there is almost always something that has to be ad libbed. And we watch for it because it can lead to some great spontaneous expressions.

In this wedding, one of those moments came during the exchange of rings. The groom placed the bride's ring on her finger first and all went well. When the bride came to put the groom's ring on his finger, however, she could not get it on! She pushed and pushed. The groom even tried himself - all to no avail. Finally, they adapted and she placed his ring on his pinky finger amid uproarious laughter!  

Ensuring no one will forget this wedding for its pure joy!

They greeted their guests after the ceremony and we took a few group portraits.  One of the bridesmaids then suggested we go to downtown Adamant, Vermont. 

Adamant is a tiny unincorporated village in the rolling countryside between Montpelier to the south and Calais to the north.  If it were on a highway, you would probably pass it before you noticed it.  But, the washboard dirt roads insured we drove slow enough to fully appreciate its beauty.  Its population was last recorded as having only 53 residents, but they managed to have a theater, a music school, and a gorgeous park in "center" of the village. 

Interestingly since Adamant has no government and no legal status, it has no universally recognized boundaries.  This apparently has given rise to the aphorism that "Adamant is a state of mind!"  And a fine state it is!     

The pond even had a couple of waterfalls.    

There are some beautiful spots in Vermont if you know where to look.  

When we were finished, we headed back into Barre, Vermont to the Knights of Columbus hall for their reception and a dinner provided by the Hill Top Restaurant.  Butch Getek, serving as DJ and MC, kept the party moving.  One highlight was their cake from Delicate Decadence, for which Joanne had won a door prize at the Needleman's Bridal Expo!  

In sharing ideas for their wedding we had told them about the Anniversary Dance that we had seen others use at their receptions.  This is were they have a dance and every so often the DJ will ask all couples to leave the floor who have been married less than a certain amount.  Of course the newlyweds are the first to leave, and the final remaining couple had been married over 60 years!   

When Butch asked the couple if they had any advice for the newlyweds, they said they sure did. The man told them that marriages are like ships in that you needed to know who was in charge. Now he said that he always thought of himself as the captain, but his wife was the admiral!

When it comes time to throw the bouquet, you never quite know what you are going to get. At some weddings, they are aggressive in trying to catch the bouquet, while in others, just the opposite.  In either case the best parts of the resulting photos are usually the expressions on the faces of the ones who did not catch the flowers.   

The woman in red almost has it, but misses at the last second. The bouquet continues on to the floor and rolls over to the feet on the bridesmaids, who pretty much just stand and look at it!

Finally, one of them bends down and picks it up, while everyone else just watches.  

All in all it was a great celebration of two great families coming together as one. We were happy to have been a part of it and wish Doug and Joanne our very best!  

Of course it takes a fairly large team of people to pull off a great wedding celebration like Doug and Joanne's. Here are some of the professionals that worked together to make this day a delight!

Wedding Professionals:

To see additional photographs from Doug and Joanne's wedding:

Posted by Linda & Warren

Posted by ayerphoto at 2:36 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 July 2013 5:35 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Love Story - Tyler & Alexis of the Guard
Mood:  special
Topic: Love Stories

We love to hear how couples meet and fall in love.  So, we ask the couples, whose weddings we photograph, to share a little of their story.  We first met Tyler, when we photographed his sister's wedding back in 2009.  So we were delighted to work with this great family once again, and happy to meet his fiancé, Alexis. 

When we asked them how they met, here is what they said: 

"Tyler and Alexis met in 2008, while both working a tour with the Vermont Air National Guard.  As the summer went on they became close friends.  As their tour drew closer to an end, they started to realize they didn't want want their relationship to end with it.  Before long, they were considered a couple!"

"After dating for about six months, Alexis made her stays with Tyler permanent and made the move to Morrisville, Vermont.    Tyler's family instantly grew close and made her a part of the family with ease!" 

"That summer the family starting making plans for the cruise they take every couple of years.  Mind you that by family, I mean one that includes about 20 aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins!"

"The cruise was set for October 2011, and Alexis couldn't have been more excited, since she had never been on a cruise.  They would fly to Barcelona, Spain, and travel around the Mediterranean for a week." 

"She had brought up the idea of an engagement a few months before the cruise, but Tyler insisted it would probably be a while before they were ready for that."

"The first day on the cruise was at sea, and they had a great time learning the ship and relaxing at the pool.  That night they had reservations for dinner with the entire family, although they were such a large crowd and split into two tables, it was a great time."

"After dinner Tyler, Alexis, his sister, Jaimie, and husband Rick went to the top of the ship for fresh air and to admire the view.  As Rick insisted he needed a moment, Tyler and Alexis continued to the back of the ship to see the moon, telling Jaimie to meet them back there." 

"Little did Alexis know what was coming next."

"As soon as Tyler and Alexis reached the back of the ship, she looked out over the sea. admiring the reflection of the moon on the water.  Tyler then called her name to get her attention.  As she turned around, she found he was down on one knee; and then he asked her to marry him!  Alexis was beyond excited and in disbelief that it was actually happening, but didn't hesitate to say YES!"

"After a moment of taking in the excitement and celebrating, they quickly went to find Jaimie and Rick, who were slowly making their way to the stern of the ship.  They were overjoyed with the news, and Rick quickly made his way to the stage poolside to announce the engagement over the microphone!"

"The cruise was definitely a trip of a lifetime, and a story that they will
continue to talk about forever."  

"The wedding was set to take place at the home of Tyler's parents house in Morrisville, Vermont.  But, with weeks of rain leading up to the day, it was decided that the ground would not be suitable for such an event.  The location was moved a couple of miles away to his grandfather's house, also in Morrisville and turned out to be even more beautiful than visioned!"

"Rehearsal had also taken place at the wedding site, followed by dinner at
The Hardwood Ranch (the family camp) in Elmore.  It was set to a luau theme with a roasted pig, tiki torches and fun drinks all setting the mood for the next day."

Their wedding turned out wonderful, complete with a rainbow, tractors, and fireworks. For the full story on their wedding CLICK HERE to see our wedding blog posting.

Posted by Warren

Ayer Photography of Vermont


Posted by ayerphoto at 3:31 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 16 August 2013 7:13 PM EDT
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Monday, 1 July 2013
The Maxfield-Demars Wedding
Mood:  on fire
Topic: Weddings

We first met the groom (Tyler) way back in 2009 when we photographed his sister's wedding.  He was one of the groomsmen in that wedding.  We loved the family and were delighted when they asked us back to photograph Tyler's.  It is so much fun to photograph a second wedding in the same family or circle of friends, because you see so many people you know, it is like a reunion of sorts.  And in some ways it is easier, because you already know some of their family traditions and know what to look for.  

The bride (Alexis) and groom (Tyler) were both members of the National Guard, and I am told that that is where they met.  (CLICK HERE to see their LOVE STORY)  This made for some unique aspects to this wedding - the bride being kidded about having "non-regulation" nails and the officiant pausing during the ceremony to thank them both for their service.  

The wedding was originally planned to be at the home of Tyler's parents, where they had recently put in a pond. It was a beautiful spot and we shot their engagement photos there.    

It is a beautiful spot and we had grand plans for some of the photos for the wedding.  Unfortunately in the few short weeks between this photo and the wedding itself, it rained.  And rained.  And rained and rained.  A few days before the wedding it was decided that there was just too much mud and the hillside, where the wedding was to take place too slippery to be safe for a party crowd.  So, less than a week before the wedding, they had to change the venue.  Now this is not the first wedding we have photographed where they had to change the venue, but it is the first venue change with so little lead time.  It made for what the matron of honor called, "one very stressful week!"    

In the end the whole event was moved up a generation to the home of Tyler's grandfather. It was another lovely spot - nice to have a plan B that was as nice as plan A - but flatter and drier - with great white-fenced horse corrals and lots of room for the tents. Because of the daily rain storms they had tents for the ceremony and tents for the reception and tents for the walk between the tents. And they all turned out to be necessary, for while there were periods of sun, there were numerous showers between times.    

One of the traditions of this family is a great rehearsal party after the rehearsal. This time it was a luau theme at the Hardwood Ranch in Elmore. With all the rain we wondered how accessible this would be at the end of Hardwood Flats Road (a dirt road). But, aside from some ditch erosion we got there and back just fine. And of course there were more tents that proved their worth when it started to rain long before the night was over.   

While all weddings have key elements in common it is always a delight to see what the couple will do to make their celebration a little different.  Often they will incorporate some unique mode of transportation for the bride or groom or both to use in getting to the venue.  Sometimes it is an antique car, horses, an RV, a fire truck, or in this case an old tractor.  

Originally it was supposed to bring the bridal party to the venue, but since the venue was moved to the place where the bride was getting ready, it was switched to bringing the groom and his groomsmen.   

As time for the ceremony approached, we could see a storm brewing in the distance as the guests found their seats under the tent. After considerable debate on the wisdom of going or waiting, it was finally decided to "go for it!"  

The "ring bearer" announced the bride was on her way.  The rain held off as she walked toward the tent.  The groom came down the aisle and met her, taking her hand just as Lauren Paine sang the lyric "... take my hand."  And then they walked together out the other side of the tent with the officiant, braving the elements, should they come.  

They got through a lot of the ceremony, one reading, the vows, and even the exchanging of the rings.  But part way through the harp music, big fat rain drops began to tap out a beat on the tent.  The wedding party waited for a moment to see if it was going to be just a few drops, or become a full fledged shower.  That it was to be a shower was soon evident and they scurried under the tent with their guests to finish the last couple of elements of the ceremony, before recessing down the tented pathway. 

For the rest of the day it was just a series of showers interspersed with sun.  At one point we even got a gorgeous rainbow and were able to run out for this shot.   

We were never able to get very far from a tent or a porch, for the breaks were short lived and the rain always returned.  So we would take a few shots, then join the reception.  When another break came along, we would gather another group for a photo.  

In between breaks, we ate, danced and cut the cake in the dry tent. 

And then another photo with another tractor.   

As the sun began to fall, the party kicked into high gear directed by Supersounds.   

And the groomsmen stood in the rain for the traditional cigar!  

And then after it was dark and it stopped raining and the Doppler radar suggested the next shower was at least a few minutes away, we all went out to watch the fireworks!  After all, when both the bride and groom are in the Guard and it is only a few days before the fourth of July, they must be practically mandatory? 

And for the younger guests they had provided sparklers which were a big hit. But the bride and bridesmaid had reserved five for themselves, and we decided to try some lightpainting. This is where you hold the camera perfectly still, and the couple stands perfectly still, while a bridesmaid runs around them painting something in the dark with a sparkler. What is only revealed by looking in the camera's LCD after it is done. 

All in all, in spite of the sporadic rain showers, it was a great time with great people celebrating the marriage of a great couple!     

Of course it takes a fairly large team of people to pull off a great wedding celebration like Tyler and Alexis'. Here are some of the professionals that worked together to make this day a delight!

Wedding Professionals:

To see additional photographs from Tyler and Alexis' wedding:

Posted by Linda & Warren


Posted by ayerphoto at 8:44 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 16 August 2013 7:12 PM EDT
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