Any suggestions for 9wk photography course?

I’ve been asked to teach a nine week photography course, with the subject matter entirely up to me.

I have loads of ideas of what I want to teach, but I thought it might be interesting to see if anyone out there has any suggestions for things they would really like to see on a course.

The course will be broad in scope, with the aim that beginners can grasp the fundamentals and the more advanced will be able to learn some nifty tricks and techniques.

It starts in September in a coastal area of Anglesey – I won’t say exactly where yet until all the details are finalised – and it will be one evening a week for 3hrs.

The course won’t result in a qualification, but is intended to pack as much information in as possible.

I don’t intend to include much about wedding photography, unless there’s a strong interest in it.

Some ideas I’ve already had are:

Photographs of the sea and water as an introduction to shutter speed.

Beach portraiture to examine how aperture affects depth of field and sharpness.

HDR how to using local churches as examples.

Beach portraiture using flashguns/off camera flash as an introduction to lighting.

Maybe some elements of video…

What do you think ? What elements of photography would you like to learn about?

Photovision photography trade show in Manchester


I went to the Photovision tradeshow in Manchester on Tuesday.

It was split into two areas at Old Trafford, one room where there were free seminars being given throughout the day and another area were a lot of the big businesses in photography were showing their wares.

My favourite seminar was the first one of the day, given by Guy Gowan, about using channels and actions in Photoshop to speed up photograph processing workflow. The speed he whitens people’s teeth is very impressive, I’ll definitely be trying to emulate some of his techniques.

The OnOne plugins for Photoshop were also very impressive, but had price tags to match.

There were a few different album companies on the trade floor, including one of the industry leaders Graphistudio.

A company called Innova had a fold up box that could be used to print wall photos on, a very cheap alternative to canvas or framing that looks much better than it sounds.

I wish I’d known of them when I had my last art exhibition.

I spoke to Animoto, the people that turn your photos into an all singing all dancing video. They look very cool, but I think they run the risk of becoming generic looking as more people use them.

And I spoke to a guy in swim trunks who was helping Aaduki promote their insurance for photographer and videographers.

All in all the show was pretty good, the free seminars were definitely the draw, but it was also a good way to meet other togs and traders.

North Wales Weddings – meeting couples

Me, Caz and Jac went to see my mum in Crete over Easter and our one week holiday turned into two because of the Icelandic Volcano.

It was great having an extra week in the sunshine, chilling on the beach, going for walks through olive groves, and looking at ants (…I like ants, little odd, I know).

However, I’m now having to work that bit harder to make up for the extra week I spent lazing round.

One of my favourite things about being a wedding photographer is meeting couples for the first time, and I’ve now met three couples in four days.

I met Alun and Ffion, the awesome couple who won my competition, on Thursday. I went round to their house and made a bit of a tit of myself trying to take a photo of all three of us using the timer on my camera – it totally didn’t work.

Nevermind, I got a nice photo of them together which hopefully will go in the paper next week and get me bit more bang for my ad bucks.

Yesterday, I went to Flint to meet Nicky and Chris and their dogs Teo and Jake (did I spell them right?). They’re an ace couple and have got some cool ideas for their wedding day, including getting married at Llechwedd Slate Caverns… I didn’t even know you could do that!

And today I met the lovely Vicky and Ross, who my friend Bev put me in touch with (thanks Bev!). They were the first couple who came to visit me, rather than the other way round, and I was listening to Bruce Springsteen (again!) which was a little embarrassing.

Anyway, it was nice to meet you all!

Since coming back from Crete I’ve also arranged to do some video tuition, run a photography course, started organising a mad-hatter tea party / photo shoot, filmed at Venue Cymru, etc etc

So apologies if you’re waiting for me to get in touch and I haven’t done so yet!

Hot shots of missus in Crete

I did my first model shoot a couple of weeks ago, but as I don’t yet have model release forms I got my wife Caroline to pull a couple of poses for me on our holiday to Crete.

These were taken in Chania, a town on the North West coast. The black and white ones were taken with one off-camera flash bounced off a wall, and edited in photoshop. The colur one had minimal editing in Photoshop.

Caroline – like most brides and grooms – wasn’t massively confident in front of the camera and a key part of my job as a wedding photographer is to make you feel comfortable and look smoking in your photographs, which I think I achieved here.

You can see some more of my holiday shots at!/album.php?aid=173703&id=708061540

Pre-wedding photo scout at St David’s, Ewloe, near Wrexham

I’m photographing Lucy and David-Marc’s wedding at St David’s in Ewloe on May 22nd, and so went there on Saturday for a pre-wedding photo scout.
The reason I do this is to become familiar with the layout of the wedding venue, to know where there’s good natural light, figure out where I’ll need additional lighting, and work out camera angles and backgrounds for the day.
Writing up my notes here helps me remember all these details and gives my clients the opportunity to see what I’ll be doing on their wedding day.

There is a piano in a conservatory area which has some nice reflections on it – good for shot of couple, natural light from behind and above.
On the first photo of the stairs the bride could look towards a window at the top of the stairs, with banisters acting as pointers to her, the main subject.
The wide shot of the stairs has a nice symmetry – shot of bride & groom or small group shot, needs some above camera fill flash to compensate for back lighting from window.
The main room, where the service, wedding breakfast, and first dance take place, is just about light enough not to use flash for wide shots of entire room.
For photographs of individuals I can use zoomed flash bounce from ceiling, which is white, so no colour cast. Or maybe flash through 3-in-1 reflector, I’ll see what works best.
The best place for the main group shot is from the roof of the orangery looking down onto the lawn, but if it’s raining there is room inside, where the furniture will need to be rearranged beforehand.
With some careful camera angles the bridge and the bench outside are good locations for shots of Lucy and David-Marc together, or small group shots.
There is also a lake next to the hotel which gives another option.
I saw a heron there, which I was pleased about because I’ve spent years trying to track down the heron that lives near me.

Tom Simone photography books and wedding albums

Here’s a book of my photography that I self-published using

This book is basically a mish mash of stuff I’ve done over the last few years which I ordered because I wanted to assess the quality of what Blurb offers.

I’ve now ordered a few different books through this company, including wedding albums.

Although it’s not cheap to order a hard-back book on premium quality paper from Blurb, it is still massively cheaper than ordering from companies specialising in wedding photography books.

They are also cheaper to produce than traditional albums, where you have to factor in the cost of ordering the prints.

I think the quality of them is actually very good, but they perhaps lack a little of the finesse of photobooks from somewhere like

You’re able to lay the Kiss books flat too, which means an image across two pages doens’t have a big fold in it, and this is a really nice feature.

However, there is a huge difference in cost, and I think wedding books from definitely fulfill a certain niche.

For example, if you’re popping round to your friend’s house you probably don’t want to carry a massive wedding album, but a photobook that fits in your handbag might be just the ticket.

I’ve not yet committed to one brand of wedding album or photobook and for the time being I’m very flexible with regards the type of album I offer.

Time will tell which kind of wedding albums prove the most popular, and in the meantime, if you have any thoughts of the type of albums you like, please feel free to comment.

North Wales wedding photographer & film maker Tom Simone – a bit about me!

Hello  – Welcome to my wedding film and photography blog!

In this post I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself. The rest of the blog will be my take on wedding photography and film, with examples of my work and probably some miscellaneous ramblings.

So, here goes – I live in Bethesda, North Wales, with my wife Caroline and three boys, Jac, Raffi, and Leo.

Tom Simone & family

In 2009 I left my job in the media to embark on a career as a wedding photographer and film maker, which has been a really exciting move and I’ve been loving every minute of it.

I haven’t got any formal qualifications in photography, but then none of the best photographers do 😉 and I think my CV makes up for it.

I was introduced to the role of being a cameraman during work experience on BBC’s Saturday Morning Kitchen (I still remember the chef’s fishcakes – absolutely divine!), and got the photography bug when I started getting articles and photos published in national magazines a few years back.

I’ve worked for the two rival newspaper companies in North Wales, North Wales Newspapers and Trinity Mirror, and did reporting, web, photography and video work for both.

At the Daily Post I was in charge of video content across the North Wales sites and filmed/interviewed the likes of David Cameron, Pink Floyd and even Rolf Harris, amongst many others.

I’ve had two Arts Council of Wales funded exhibitions at the Ucheldre Centre in Holyhead, where I showed photographs and a film as part of the Heglu art project I coordinated with the sculptor Richard Houghton.

We worked with adults with learning difficulties at Tyddyn Mon on Anglesey, we got some amazing feedback from it all and I’ll be making another couple of art films later in the year.

I knew I wanted to set up a wedding photography business when I left the Daily Post because weddings are  the most exciting and fun things I can possibly think of to photograph.What’s more, there probably isn’t any other area of photography where the photographs are more greatly appreciated  – having such a high value placed on my work is an amazing feeling.

I’ve used my experience in the media and the arts to the full when it comes to weddings, and I think it shows in my work.

I now photographed and filmed a whole bunch of weddings and some of the feedback I’ve had has blown me away, before getting into this business I had not fully appreciated the impact my photographs and films would have on the couples I work for, and I now wouldn’t swap this job for anything else in the world.

In addition to wedding film and photography I do commercial work, and I’m in the process of setting up Golau Media, a company which will offer a broader suite of things like photography, promotional videos, websites and PR.

So far I’ve worked for Manchester University, Imperial War Museum, Menter Mon, Ergonomic Cafe, Trefriw Woollen Mill, Tyddyn Mon, kitchen photography for national style mag, Sam Dyer Ecology, and probably some more I can’t think of because it’s getting late.

If you want to know anything else about me, see some of my photos/films or whatever else then please get in touch.

I don’t really go in for the hard sell, but I’m always up for talking about everything weddings, especially if there’s tea and biscuits involved 🙂

Colour correction / Black & White conversion of wedding photos in Photoshop

This is a photo I really liked from Debra and Andrew’s wedding at Christ’s Church, Bethesda, in December, but like most of the photos taken during the ceremony it suffers from too much red caused by overhead heaters.

Thankfully photoshop makes it fairly easy to make it look much better, and in this case I converted it to black & white as well.

I’m putting this post up for the benefit of other photographers and so clients can see an example of what post-processing involves which, after all, is a large part of what they’re paying for.

I think Photoshop can be overwhelming to someone unfamiliar with the software, but it’s pretty essential to get the most out of your photos and it’s not too hard to do things like colour correction and B&W conversion.

In CS4 I often try Image>Autocolor because it’s pretty good at making the colour in your photograph look much better, but it takes a bit of trial and error to find out when it works best.

In Photoshop Elements that are some other auto-corrections, I seem to recall the ‘adjust for skin tone’ being particularly good.

In this example Autocolor couldn’t compensate for the reds at all, so I did it manually.

Step 1
Image>Adjustments>Color Balance

The Hue/Saturation option allows you to selectively desaturate different colour channels. This works well if you desaturate by just a few percentage points, overdo it and the photo starts to look unnatural.

I use the Color Balance option more often. In this case I changed the red in the shadows, midtones and highlights by about 10 points towards cyan and for a lot of photographs this amount of tweaking is enough.

However, I still didn’t think the colours looked that great so I tried a B&W conversion.

Step 2

Image>adjustments>Black & White

I never take photographs in B&W because it seems silly to discard colour information at the camera stage. There might be a good argument for taking B&W shots in camera, but personally I don’t see the point.

(I also shoot jpegs rather than in RAW because I find it quicker and easier to work with smaller files which, for me, outweighs the information benefits of RAW.)

With Black & White conversion I try the Auto button first, and find I’m happy with the result about half the time.

The best method is to move the sliders back and forwards until the photo looks how you want it. In this case it was all about the red and yellow sliders.

Step 3


I find that photos often don’t ‘pop’ as much as they should when they’re first converted to B&W.

The way to fix this is with curves, which allow you control things like brightness and contrast very precisely.

In the example above I moved the top-right corner of the line slightly left which changed the darkest parts of the image to black. In this image the bench in the foreground was darkened and thus highlighted the girl more.

Curves take a while to get your head round, but if you mess about with them a bit you’re bound to get some good results.

Step 4

Filter>distortion>lens correction … Vignette

A vignette is where the outside of the image is darkened (or lightened) and usually I don’t really like the look  it gives a photograph.

In some instances, though, it helps highlight the main subject, in this case the girl.

You can adjust the darkness and midpoint of the vignette until you’re happy with what you see.

The example below used the same steps as above, but without the B&W conversion.

The red was quite extreme in the original photo but a combination of ‘color balance’ and desaturation did a pretty good job of fixing it.

This photo doesn’t look so good in B&W because there isn’t a very large tonal range (light), but it’s quite hard to tell if B&W will look any good until you actually try it.

These processes are straight forward and quite quick to do (depending on how many images you’re editing), but what takes the time is messing round to see what looks best.

If you have any questions, either photographic or regarding what I can for you as a client, please feel free to email me at

North Wales wedding photography & videography competition update

I’ve dipped my toe into paid for advertising this week.

I decided to go with the North Wales Chronicle to publicise my competition to win wedding photos and film for free (see the post above).

Although I’ve been plugging the competition on Facebook and Twitter for the last couple of weeks the people who have approached me about doing their wedding photos haven’t known anything about it. Not sure what’s going on there.

Here’s the ad which will be appearing in the North Wales Chronicle:

I thought the designers did quite a nice job on it to be fair.

The reason I went for the Chronicle is (1) I want to establish myself locally and a local paper gives me good coverage, (2) I got my first job as a reporter on the Chronicle’s sister paper the Pioneer (which is based in Colwyn Bay).

I also took out a smaller ad in their Wedding Guide 2010 magazine, which is aimed at wedding related businesses in North Wales.

Now it’s a case of waiting to see how effective it is.

Another first for me will be to exhibit at one of the wedding fairs/fayres in North Wales. I’m planning on attending the wedding fayre at Bodidris Hall in Llandudno on Sunday (Feb 21, 12-5pm) and am considering having a stand at the one at Seiont Manor on March 7.

The only thing is I’ve so much commercial work (museums, laptop cases, Tyddyn Mon, kitchens and bathrooms, pantomimes… basically an endless random list of various photographic jobs) that I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to put a stand together.

The other thing I’ve been busy with is sorting out my bookkeeping and accounts. It’s very confusing and a bit of a pain in the arse, but I figure if I get on top of it now, then things will be much easier next January.

Anywhos, that’s quite boring.

More excitingly, please remember to enter my competition to win wedding photos and a film by following the instructions in the post above – It is a great prize and could save you loads of money of your wedding!

Tx, Tom.

Cool photographs of Bangor Cathedral, North Wales

I took Jac with me to the car wash today, and then to Bangor Cathedral.

He freaked out at the car wash and spilt orange juice all over the Cathedral floor, but I managed to get a couple nice pictures anyway.

I’d quite like to try a couple in this style while shooting a wedding – let me know if you like them.

If you do, then why not add a comment to the post above to possibly get me for the whole day for free!

Great Prize: Get your wedding photos and film done for free!!

In my previous post I was going on about how best to market myself as a wedding photographer / film maker in North Wales.

Well, I’ve hit upon an idea that might work out quite nicely for you too!

I’ve decided to offer one lucky couple the chance to save more than £1,200 off the cost of their wedding by doing their photography and wedding film for free.

The prize will include:

Pre-wedding planning meetings to discuss what photos you want and get the best results on the day,
Pre-wedding location shoot,
Wedding photography from getting ready to the first dance and everything in between,
All day filming,
Professional editing of photos of film,
Two photo albums – one big one and one for the handbag
A beautifully shot film of your wedding day
Online photo gallery
Three cameramen for your wedding day – one photographer, one cameraman, and an assistant.

To be in with a chance of winning you need to comment on this post (see the comment link at the bottom of the post), and tell me the following:

Your name,
email address,
(please make sure you get this right so I can contact you!)
where you’re from,
where you’re getting married,
when you’re getting married,
anything else you want to tell me!

By entering this competition you are automatically eligible for a 20% discount on my prices (before other discounts).
The closing date for this competition is March 31.
If outside of the UK you have to pay travel costs.
Dates subject to availability.
The winner will be decided by drawing a name from a hat – I will post a video of this at the beginning of April.

North Wales wedding photographer and videographer


I’m at the point where I need to promote myself as a wedding photographer and videographer in North Wales, but it’s not easy to know which options are best.

I’ve just created a Facebook group to do with my wedding photography and film work, which is great because it’s free and most people on the site are in their 20s and 30s, so are likely to be getting married.

I’ve also started using Twitter (just search for tomsimone and you’ll find me), but this seems more useful for keeping in touch with the photographic community.

It’s when it comes to paid for advertising that things get a little more confusing, but I think I’ll go for one of the newspapers I used to work for in North Wales.

My wife used to advertise private tuition, but that seems a bit of a rip off, and I think that’s probably true of other online directories.

The trouble with print media is it seems a bit expensive when compared to the kind of free coverage I can get on sites like Facebook, but then I guess it does give a lot wider coverage.

One thing I intend to do in the coming months is run a competition for me to cover your wedding for free (ie photographs, album, and film), which I hope will get me lots of publicity.

In the meantime, good old word of mouth seems to be paying the biggest dividends, so please tell everyone you know about me! 😉

Photographs, words, … and leaflet design

Should a wedding photographer be doing commercial work?

Should a wedding photograper be doing commercial work?

To succeed in photography – as with most things in life – it is generally accepted the best way to do it is to specialise.

Now, my photographic and video making career in North Wales has been going amazingly well since leaving the media last year, but I haven’t been too hot on the specialisation side of things.

Sure, wedding photography and videography are my primary passions – I love the buzz of the big day, getting to know the couples who are getting married, and the challenge of getting the best shots and footage I possibly can – but I seem to be doing a lot of other stuff as well.

Many moons ago, when asked by a school career adviser what I wanted to be, the idea of being a wedding photographer never crossed my mind (I wanted to be an astronaut), but I can honestly say I now absolutely love it.

Lots of photographers turn their noses up at wedding photography, perhaps because they don’t enjoy the pressure and working with people, and photographers are often considered an anti-social bunch, but for me it’s perfect.

However, the God of Photography works in mysterious ways, and despite putting zero effort into getting commercial photography work loads of it seems to be coming my way.

This week I’ve been designing a leaflet for Tyddyn Mon Farm (the day care centre on Anglesey for adults with learning difficulties), which is where I carried out the Heglu project with Richard Houghton.

And, of course, in addition to the design I’ve done the photos and the words too. After all, I used to be a journalist, and as a photographer I have to be pretty nifty on Photoshop, which means designing leaflets ain’t that difficult either.

Now, it seems to me that designing leaflets is quite far removed from wedding photography. Add to that the time I spend building websites, dicking about with Facebook, Twitter and the rest, and doing things like video editing and all that involves, I would say I’m far from being a specialist.

I’m a generalist!

But, for the $64,000 question, does that really matter?

Perhaps (hopefully) not. I’ve recently been using Twitter to follow some of the world’s leading names in photography, such as Chase Jarvis and Trey Ratcliff, and they are masters of multitasking.

They are the best at marketing themselves through social media and they definitely have very broad skill sets, so if it works for them perhaps it’s okay for me too.

The other thing that makes me think being a generalist might be ok is the feedback I’ve had off people interested in having me as their wedding photographer, videographer, or both.

Oftentimes it is the photos I’ve taken away from wedding photography that have drawn them in in the first place – see – and, for them, the imaginary lines between being a wedding photographer and any other kind of photographer just haven’t been important.

I guess I’ll have a better idea come the summer, when I’ll have been a self-employed wedding photographer for one whole year!

(If you’re looking for decades of wedding photography experience, I’m not your guy – I cut my teeth in the media)

I’d be interested to hear what other photographers think, and any potential clients out there…

Lencarta studio lights – are they any good? part II

In my previous post I said I’d taken a risk and bought some budget studio lights from Lencarta, and that I’d do a full review as soon as I’d tried them out.

They arrived within two days in a giant box full of goodies (I bought the Elite Pro softbox kit).

The build quality of the lights and stands was very good, the interface on the back of the lights was very easy to understand and I was getting great shots within 10 minutes of opening the box.

I did have one major problem though – as soon as I turned the second Lencarta light on it started clicking, then short circuited before smoke started coming out of it.

I wondered whether I should have gone for the more expensive Bowen lights.

However, I phoned Lencarta up the next day and had probably the best customer service experience I’ve ever had. The guy was very friendly and chatty and said he’d get me a replacement by the next day!

Sure enough, the replacement came and so far seems to be working great.

I’ve had very different experiences with bigger companies such as Simply Electronics, who didn’t do anything wrong but were a bit faceless and took their time with refunds and the such like.

I also bought a soft lens from a company called Microglobe who took well over two months to refund me, so my experience with Lencarta was a pleasant surprise.

I haven’t used the lights long enough yet to give a full review, but on the basis of my initial experience I would definitely recommend Lencarta to any photographer who is trying out studio lighting for the first time.

The way I figure it is, if they don’t measure up to what I need in the first week I can always send them back.

I will try and post up some more in depth thoughts on the lights in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, our dining room is full of studio lights, softboxes, umbrellas, and reflectors. Although Caroline has been good humored about it so far, a studio space has moved up my wish list somewhat.

If anyone knows of any studio space in North Wales, preferably near Bethesda/Bangor/Anglesey, then please let me know…

New Lencarta ElitePro Twin Head Softbox Kit and light tent – is it any good?

In my previous post I said I got some work doing product photography for Menter Mon, who give help and advice to small businesses on Anglesey and other parts of North Wales.

I realised I was slightly under equipped for product photography since most of what I’ve done so far is media related or, of course, weddings.

My first purchase was a 120cm light cube (or light tent, not sure what the correct term is).

This is fairly essential for creating even lighting on products that have reflective surfaces, but I’ve only used one a couple of time so it will be fun to have a play around with.

My second purchase was some studio lighting, which required a bit more research.

I went for the very cheap (relatively) Lencarta ElitePro Twin Head Softbox Kit, which is less than half the price of the more established Bowens and Elinchrom brands.

I spent a bit of time reading reviews and forum entries and, as ever with such things, there is a lot of conflicting information – some people saying all brands except for the main ones are crap and others saying the opposite.

In the end it was Lencarta’s website which convinced me to give them a spin, especially the lighting boffins they have discussing their products in their video.

Anyway, I’ll try them out and do a mini-review for other people wondering about which studio lighting to get as a first purchase.

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, for my wedding photography I use speedlites (Canon’s flashes) which are great, but I haven’t got enough of them for the kind of product photography I’ve been employed to do.

Commercial photography

I’ve taken on quite a lot of non-wedding photography work in the last week or so, thanks to my father-in-law and a friend who works in a museum.

The first lot of work is a fairly large project for Menter Môn, who give business advice and support to small to medium sized companies, with money from the Welsh Assembly.

It was my wife’s dad who put me onto this one, which was nice.

The second lot of work is for the Manchester Museum and the Imperial War Museum, which I got through my old school friend Kate Clancy.

I know this post doesn’t have much to do with weddings, but I wanted something to write about to test my new WordPress (the blogging software) plugin.

It’s called Socialite and allows me to publish my blog posts to Facebook and Twitter…

….let’s see if it works.

A new year of North Wales weddings :-)

It’s been a busy start to the new year.

My Heglu exhibition is currently showing at the Ucheldre Centre in Holyhead and that took a lot of work to get together.

I’ve spent a bit of time trying to get this site a bit higher in the google search rankings – I was bottom of page 17 (out of about 50) last time I checked.

So to improve my SEO (search engine optimisation) I’m now listed with Yell, I have a YouTube channel, a Flickr account, I’m on google maps, I have a Linked In profile, and of course I’m on Facebook.

Still haven’t got my head round Twitter though.

It’s bloody hard work trying to get to the top of mount Google!

I’m still getting loads of work though – some people are even managing to find me through google, which is a bit baffling.

There seems to be a fair amount of random bits and bobs coming my way too – I’ve got a meeting tomorrow with Mentor Mon to try and win a contract to do some of their commercial stuff, Tyddyn Mon, the day care centre for adults with learning difficulties, have asked me to design a leaflet (?!), I filmed a pantomime in Llanrwst, and I’m doing a bit of PR and video work for a hotel and restaurant.

Once I’ve got advertising for my wedding photography business sorted I’ll also be setting up Golau Media, my video production company, so it’s pretty flat out really.

And of course I haven’t been immune to the snow we’ve had, although the novelty of photographing it has worn a little thin now. (You can see some pics at

Now, not sure I’m going to win any business with this rambling post, but before I go I must try and use some key words for Google to pick up on:

Tom Simone is a wedding photographer film maker videographer from Bethesda, North Wales, near Bangor, which is also in Gwynedd, next to Anglesey and Conwy, but a little further from Flintshire and Denbighshire etc etc …. K, bored of this now….

….btw, I’m much better at photography and camera work than I am at blogging… honest!


Debra and Andrew’s wedding – church in Bethesda and Seiont Manor

Debra and Andrew made a beautiful couple and their wedding was very special.

The sun shone (in the middle of December!), Cor y Penrhyn filled the church with song, everybody was having a great time, and it was perfect day for taking wedding photos,  so I was happy too.

Debra and Andrew - just married

Debra and Andrew - just married

I’ll be posting up lots more photos and a slideshow tomorrow…

[flashvideo file= /]

It took a bit of playing around with to figure out the best way of making a wedding photography slideshow.

I’d had a look at, which is causing a bit of a stir amongst photographers at the moment. It allows you to upload photos and then spits out a very polished video complete with music.

Although it looked pretty cool, it’s not very customisable and the transitions and effects don’t work so well with wedding photos (IMO).

I also tried iDVD (too basic, looks like a template), Adobe Bridge (couldn’t figure it out), imovie (not great), DVD Pro (more suited for DVD slideshows, surprisingly enough), and FactoryFX plugins for Final Cut (need to pay for and labour intensive).

In the end I created the wedding slideshow using Final Cut:

1. I lined up the photos up in the timeline (drag and drop)
2. I kept the default transition as cross dissolve
3. Selected all the photos on the timeline and dragged them up to the ‘overwrite w/ transition’ icon
4. Added audio – job done.

Straightforward, and definitely what I should have done in the first place.

Wedding photo scouting at Seiont Manor and church in Bethesda

It is a matter of days before Debra and Andrew tie the knot at Eglwys Iesu Grist (Christ’s Church) in Bethesda.

And, to be fair, they seem pretty relaxed and organised.

I’m going to Debra’s parents’ house for 10.30am on Saturday. It’s just up the road from the church and is where Debra will be getting ready.

Imagine the bride here instead of the armchair

Imagine the bride here instead of the armchair

The light from the living room window is nice and flat (well, at least it was today) and I’ll use the curtains to create a barn-door effect.

Perfect backdrop, if we move some stuff out the way

Perfect backdrop, if we move some stuff out the way

There are blinds in the conservatory and I’ll use these to create a white background  for a photo of Debra in her wedding dress.

This shot is  little more technical because I will need to balance the fill-light (from my flash) with the light from the window, but it should look really nice.


I went down to the church (it’s the one near Spar on the highstreet) after visiting Debra and Andrew.

It’s beautiful inside, with great big stain glass windows.

Finding the best place the video camera was a bit tricky – I’m hoping the vicar will let Caroline stand in the pulpit, because this has got by far the best views.


The overhead heaters pose an issue with regards lighting because they make everything look a bit red.

Thankfully there’s a reasonable amount of natural light (for a church anyway) and they can be turned off for group shots at the end.

And Photoshop color correction and Final Cut filters will take care of the rest. (edit – black and white might be the way forward).


There’s room for the group shots outside if it’s nice, and inside if it’s raining, which is handy.

The church door is an obvious place to take shots of the bride and groom, as well smaller group shots.


There’s also a big rock outside which I think might make a good prop for the groom and his friends and there’s some overhanging trees which will be good for diffuse lighting and my zoom lens.

I was thinking of whisking Debra and Andrew off for a bit to shoot on location near Llanberis, but I’ve figured there isn’t really enough time to fit this in because of it getting dark so early.

Besides, Seiont Manor in Llanrug, where they are having the wedding reception, has some great places for shooting outside.

The light in the reception room is bright enough for me not to use flash,  so long as my shutter speed goes no higher than 1/80, aperture 4 and iso about 2000.

However, there’s a low white ceiling, so using a flash will be straightforward too. I think I’ll mix it up and see what comes out best.

My video camera (a Canon XHA1) is amazing in low light and doesn’t struggle at all.


In the restaurant area there’s a conservatory which is all glass and the light is very low.

On camera flash doesn’t work because there’s nothing to bounce it off and it causes nasty reflections. I could use off camera flash, but I think this would get in the way and be too much of a faff.

However, if I push my 7d to its iso limit (no higher than 3200 in my opinion) the shots come out pretty nice – my canon 30d would never have been able to do that!

There’s some comfy chairs and sofas in the bar/restaurant area of Seiont Manor, as well as lots of lamps and a fire.

It’s a perfect setting for some classy shots (much better than the reception room) of the men looking distinguished and the ladies looking elegant.

Now it’s just a case of waiting for the big day!


I will be starting the day off at Debra’s parents’ house, which is just up the road from the church and where she is getting ready.

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