Castell Coch Wedding

Having taken a few ‘artistic’ photos of cars and buildings and a few landscape shot whilst on holiday, I was asked if I would consider taking photographs at a friend’s wedding – a major difference to what I has previously been used to. However, with a chance to enhance my portfolio of photographic style I accepted.

In the run-up to the wedding, I made a few visits to the venue, Castell Coch, a historic Welsh castle once occupied as a summer home by the Marquise of Bute, to check for the best angles, exposure and lenses to use for the most impressive photographs.

One thing you cannot prepare for is the weather, especially in Wales. So I even took some sample photos in the rain to be sure of the lighting and conditions over the same time period that the wedding was due to take place.

Fortunately, the weather was superb on the day of the wedding, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining.

I took shot at the bride’s house whilst she and her bridesmaids were getting ready, they were all excited and looking forward to the rest of the day. Having left there, I arrived at the venue and met the groom and bestman and some other guests and took photographs of them outside before they went in to wait for the bride.

And it was a wait too, the bride had the congregation, the registrar and not forgetting the groom anxiously waiting for her arrival. After a nervous few minutes, she arrived and made her way to the ceremonial room.

The look on the grooms face when she arrived was priceless!

After the ceremony, groups gathered in the courtyard and at the front of the castle for more photographs. Both bride and groom were beaming to see so many of their friends and family celebrating with them on their big day.

Moving on, we made our way to the Marriott Hotel in Cardiff city centre for the evening reception. As guests arrived they were encouraged to use the ‘Video Guestbook’ that the happy couple had arranged through Film iT Wales, a local video company specialising in wedding videos, where guests would tell a tale of the bride and groom, wish them well, or anything they felt was funny which all goes towards making a comical video that the Film iT guys produce – a great way of remembering your evening party!

More photographs were taken during the speeches, wedding breakfast and the first dance before it was time to call it a night. Now the real hard work would start – the editing!

I have used photoshop to grade and enhance individual photographs in the past but given that over 2000 photos were taken on the day I needed something that could handle the import of all these photos and enhance them to an acceptable standard. Adobe Lightroom proved to be a great piece of software to do this. I allowed me to enhance batches of photos using a template and to customise to my liking also.

All original photographs and the many edited improved versions were then handed to the bride and groom on DVDs once they returned home from honeymoon few weeks after the wedding, and it was a pleasure to receive their positive feedback.

Things that I learned from the event and areas to improve: Equipment; You cannot have enough batteries or SD memory cards. Weather; Even when the weather is glorious it proves difficult for photographers in terms of angles, lens flare, shadows etc etc. I’ll be taking more time and care to improve this for future photo shoots. People; Best intentions were to direct groups of people to stand in certain formations, but humans are not robots and have minds of their own. I’ll need to improve my communication and direction skills to ensure my subjects are placed exactly where I need them.

Technical proficiency; inexperience told me to shoot JPG images; experience since has taught me to shoot camera RAW because of the quality of the images ready for editing. The reason is chose to use JPGs is purely for storage reasons which worked well but for future I’ll be using RAW. Also, my low light shooting needs some practise. A quick glance at the camera viewer shows the image looking in-focus and sharp, however when viewing on a computer screen I notice that there’s a lot of grain throughout the low light images. I will have to improve my use of the ISO, shutter speed and aperture triangle for the environment I’m shooting.

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