Last Saturday I joined Rita & Rob to photograph their snowy wedding at Bagden Hall in Denby Dale.

Instead of post the highlights video at the end of the post, I’ll get it on at the start, and if you’d like to see a few more of the images in more detail, as well as a bit of geeky behind the scenes on how I shot them, read on!

The snow’s been bucketing it down round Yorkshire last week & after a few fun filled days sledging I heard newscasts about folk canceling weddings because suppliers & guests couldn’t make them.  I was little concerned about the journey out to into rural Yorkshire for the wedding preps, but it turned out the village of Emley has it’s own friendly farmer who does a daily sweep in his tractor to clear the snow!  How nice is that.

But he’d obviously not done Rita’s drive, and I arrived to find Karolyi & Jay scraping the drive under foreman Harry’s watchful gaze!

Here’s Rita & baby Grace, working an impressive baby stare

I like this scene setter of the dress & veil.

So much of my work has become about lighting with off camera flash, but not making it look so.  As there are fellow geeky readers out there who like to know how I light my pics, I’ll let you know how I’ve lit them as I go.  But generally, I use a Canon ST-E2 to control an off-camera Canon 580EX flash, that I bounce off white roofs and walls.  I dial in manual exposures (to expose for windows if need be), flash spot meter (with the * button) from a mid grey point of the scene, then shoot, evaluate & retweak if required.

This cutey’s flashed too.  It’s resting on a table the right, pointing up at the roof (hence the shadows cast by the coat hangers & cutrain rail)

This one I chose to use natural light (with the 50mm), as I liked the contrast and shadows cast by the window

I rather like this one of Harry eating his toast.

Before I head off for weddings I like to browse inspiring photographer’s blogs for ideas.  Images that caught my eye were the natural light work of Tom Arber & James Pearson, who often shoot ‘wide-open’ low depth of field images – generally on prime lenses.  This one was inspired by that, and I love how sharp he is, while the toy & background are significantly soft.  I no doubt shot it at f 1.6, as I find f1.4 and lower more hit and miss nailing the focus.

Meanwhile – Clare joined Rob & his best man Nigel (above) at Nigel’s house.

I like this one of Robert, relaxing with a brew.

Meanwhile, Rita’s girls help the bride into her beautiful gown.

A tell tale sign that this one’s been flashed is the overly bright mirror in the back, showing the flash bouncing off the wall behind me.

Another cheeky blast of flash from stage left.  I like how it looks like a punchy window light.

I like this one of Harry getting decked out, surrounded by by bridesmaids.

Again, a bit of bounced, off-camera flash floods over from the left

James Pearson‘s work has a lovely documentary quality to it, and his morning work are often beautiful natural light moments framed by doorways

This one was inspired by that.  Though you can see that without flash, the window over-exposes & blooms.  But exposed right, I like it.

A quick flashed group before the party braved the snow!

The church at Emley looked beautiful in the snow.

Walking up, and about to be given away by her brother.

Down the aisle!

Inside churches we never use flash, so fast prime lenses are often the key players in this context.  Plus, being forced to open up to wide apertures in low-light only emphasises that selective sharpness that makes professional photography look professional.  Everybody’s happy.

The vicar kindly gave me a good spot to stand in just behind the pupit.

It’s so nice when a vicar plays ball, as they only need to be bitten once or twice by over zealous togs, and they shut the show down for everyone else.  The fact that we’ve always got two photographers at the ceremony means once we’re set at front and back position, we hardly move throughout.

Even though mr Vicar let me snap a few distant shots throughout the real signing, I set this one up.  Shot at around f2.0 I believe, I like how the subject composition looks a little like some kind of classical painting.

We weren’t sure if there was going to be a kiss, but just before they set off down the aisle, there it was!

The didn’t hang outside long before diving in the car for Bagden hall

There they had a string quartet playing (Bizarrely, the violinist on the left was a string player in a recent music video I show with 3bMedia!)

It was so deep in snow outside that we didn’t get out for a portrait shoot, and after greeting a few guests & a few quick groups, we were in for dinner.

This one’s flashed by having Clare hold the flash off camera, pointing at the roof and me spot meter from a face & pop.

After dinner speeches were lovely.  With brother Jay standing in for dad.

For these I set an Elinchrom Quadra flash up in the centre (or sometimes back) of the room & again, bounce off the roof, but instead of being using the ETTL metering system, it’s manually set & triggered, and flash brightness is adjusted by aperture.  I love the way it’s got the punch to light a room, and send a wash over the top table as I shoot from the diagonals.

Rob embarrassing Rita…

… and Nigel embarrassing Rob!

I like this one.

Being ready for a cheers shot is always a challenge, as you’re all set, then everyone stands up into your composition!

Mmmmmm cake!

I tried a new cake shot, inspired by another tog Tobiah Tayo, who’s really creative with flash.  I dialed down the ambient light (1/200th of a second at f4 at 160 ISO I believe), so the white wall background would darken off, zoomed the flash gun in & got Clare to aim it directly at the cake, so as to give it more contrast than an off the roof pop.

After dinner, and already pitch outside, Rita & Rob posed for a few quickie portraits in Bagden Hall’s reception hall.

A formal standy one…

…and a casual sitty one.

Then in the evening Rita & the girls slipped into asian dress for their Bollywood themed evening do!

Flashwise, it’s the usual Clare ETTL off camera roof pop to one side, while I expose the ambient for the background and meter the flash from a face.

A fun shot of the fancy dressers, working their best Bollywood poses

First dance!

The first dance has loads of scope for creative flash, which although technically more challenging than shooting wide open primes at high ISOs, has far more crispy punch in it’s finish.  I generally set up a quadra head pointing at the dancefloor (either from a high or low position, at a low power), with the 580 flash on camera popping a low-power manual zoomed in flash directly at the subject.  By positioning the quadra behind the subject, it adds a rim lights, while the zoomed in direct flash lights the subject.  It’s important to separate ambient exposure from flash exposure in your head, so once I’ve tested & set the flashes, I then I set the camera exposure to be hand holdable, but enough to let in ambient light (say 1/60th at f2.8).  All these factors & settings vary from room to room, so there’s no hard & fast rule to set to, just a theory that needs tweaking before the couple hit the floor!

We like to stay till we get some evening partying shots as they close the album nicely.  Especially with mum’s about throwing shapes like this!

The flash settings remain from the first dance and on wider shots you can see the result of the zoomed direct flash, feathering off at the edges.

I like this one of a kid getting down with his family.

The way I’ve described dancefloor flashing so far creates a lovely ambient look, but can freeze dancers in space, looking a bit lifeless.  So I sometimes slow the shutter to around 1/10th of a second or slower, lower the ISO so the ambient exposure remains dark, switch the flash over from manual to ETTL (so it self-meters) & put it on 2nd-curtain sync (so the flash pops at the end of the exposure), and wave / twist the camera over a scene.  The result adds swirls, patterns & light trails to a dance scene, and adds a party atmosphere.  But you can end up with a load of duffers!

So there you have it!  The highlights from Rita & Rob’s big day, as well as a load of behind the scenes flash geekery.

A massive thank you to Rita & Rob & co. for asking us along to join you at your wonderful wintery wedding!  I’ll get their images to them soon, and we’ll host a client area for guests to see their finished images, but in the meantime I hope they enjoy their honeymoon with the kids in the cotswolds!

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