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>Hue/Saturation
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

Image>adjustments>curves

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 info@tomsimoneweddings.co.uk

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!

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…

Clare and Darren’s wedding in Conwy

Tabernacle Church, Conwy

Tabernacle Church, Conwy

I was in Conwy photographing Clare and Darren Vernon’s wedding at the weekend.

They got married in the Tabernacle chapel, which is just off the square in and opposite the police station.

It’s quite hard to find if you don’t know where it is.

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It is beautiful inside, with  a wooden balcony around the inside where people can sit. It was a really nice place to get married.

Darren and the lads pose for a group shot on Llandudno's west shore

Clare and Darren then had their wedding breakfast, speeches and dance at the Imperial Hotel in Llandudno.

We went outside to do some group shots because the hotel is right on the promenade, but it was too cold to hang about for long, plus it was getting dark.

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The chapel and hotel both called for wide aperture, high iso, and low shutter speeds to make the most of available light, so I was thankful to have my new canon 7d and canon 24-70mm 2.8 lens.

I had a really good time, and even had a sit down meal with the guests because of a cancellation!

Most importantly Clare and Darren looked stunning and so did their little girl Ruby.

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