Rick and Laura - Peruga - May 2019

Peruga, beautifully positioned on a hill between Glossop and Stockport

Peruga, beautifully positioned on a hill between Glossop and Stockport

It was an early weekend in May 2019. As I drove around Manchester and headed off to the edge of the Peak District just outside Glossop I was relishing the blue sky and warm spring air. I arrived at Peruga, a charming venue sat on a hillside overlooking Manchester and Cheshire and set up my cameras. There is a lovely stone courtyard at the front of the building, perfect for large group shots, a raised deck at the rear, complete with glass screens to keep the breeze off, and a large grassed area. The restaurant has full length glass windows on two aspects, which allow huge amounts of light into the room whilst offering spectacular views as you dine.

Arrival of the bride

Arrival of the bride

Everything was in place, the guests had arrived, the atmosphere had begun to build, and there was a buzz about the place. The Groom was in the ceremony room, speaking with Sophie and Sue, the local registrars. The curtains were closed to prevent him getting a peep at the Bride as she arrived, escorted in by her best friend and bridesmaids.


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A quick glass of fizz whilst we awaited the Father of the Bride

There was a slight delay as we waited for a certain member of the bridal party to arrive. Normally you would expect this to be the Bride, but on this occasion, it was her Dad. He had misplaced something rather important and was busy trying to get it sorted out! But it allowed a little time for some more photos, and for the guests to become more acquainted.

A full house

A full house

The ceremony room was full, and standing room only at the back for this lovely couple. All eyes were on the bride as she led her bridesmaids and ring bearer down the aisle. A beautiful room, with a huge window at the front affording a magnificent backdrop to the service.


A lovely service

A lovely service

The Bride and Groom had written their own dedications to each other, and there were more than a few misty eyes in the room, including yours truly.

Signing the register

Signing the register

Once the formalities were completed, everyone took their turn at getting some snaps of the newlyweds.

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I always enjoy photographing people taking photographs, they often offer up some really nice expressions whilst they are doing it.

Not only when they are taking them, but also when they are looking at them!

Not only when they are taking them, but also when they are looking at them!

Next came a drinks reception where the party really started. The music playing in the background had been carefully chosen by the Bride and Groom and it did not disappoint. It was right up my alley. There may have been a little boogeying as I walked about with my cameras.

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As with many modern couples, the Bride and Groom had chosen to minimise the number of formal photographs taken, and were more inclined to have a documentary style photo collection which told the story of their day.

The stunning backdrop afforded by this amazing location is perfect for couple portraits

The stunning backdrop afforded by this amazing location is perfect for couple portraits

The wedding breakfast was served shortly after, consisting of a buffet style meal with some beautiful dishes from around the continent.

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The meal was followed by the speeches. Some very interesting and at times hilarious tales recalled from the couple’s journey spanning from their first meeting to their wedding day.

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I love the way the Bride is staring at her Dad in this image.

I love the way the Bride is staring at her Dad in this image.

Then it was all change for the evening entertainment. Live band XL5 who are an alternative 5 piece indie band from manchester. They hammered out some absolute belters. Not only was the dance floor full all nice, it was absolutely rocking!

XL5 - Alternate Indie Cover band

XL5 - Alternate Indie Cover band


Dancefloor

As with all the weddings I photograph, at some point I have to finish work and go home. It was a real strain to leave this one as the party was in full swing. Wedding photography is such an awesome job. On days like this, it doesn’t actually feel like work. You get the best view in the house for most of the day and share the best day of someone’s life with them. And to cap it off, you even get to present the couple with the photographs which will remind them of this day forever. How cool is that?

Jason

Are we ready???? My new kit is all tested and primed for action!

The time is here, the waiting is over, the final checks are being made.

After shooting my last wedding back in December (seems like forever ago) this weekend sees me leaping back into action. All the kit which hasn’t been used since December has been dusted off (not literally, dust and cameras don’t mix well!) tested, charged, tested again. In addition, some new stuff has been added to the already full camera bag

New toys!

New toys!

I’ve been testing it through the winter months and early spring and have taken just under 10,000 shots with it so I know it inside and out, intuitively know where every button I need is, without fumbling around in the dark. It’s main feature however, is it’s ability to shoot in complete silence. No more upset vicars (not that i’ve ever had one complain to me), no distracting machine gun noises as a photographer rattles off 20 shots a second with everyone turning to see what the commotion is. Just blissful silence. This won’t be replacing my main D810, as this produces some of the finest images I have seen, but it will take centre stage during any of the quiet bits during a wedding ceremony.

So, I thought I would use this blog to share a few of the test shots from this camera which I have accumulated over the dark months. It is important when testing new kit to try it out in all the different lighting scenarios you may come across during a wedding, so that nothing surprises you when you meet it at a critical time.


Chester Zoo - April 2019

Chester Zoo - April 2019

I finally crumbled and took my family to Chester Zoo. I’m a bit uncertain about Zoo’s as they on the one hand have animals in there which could in theory be out in the wild, but on the other hand, without the research and amazing efforts by staff at these institutions and their conservation policies, many rare creatures would already have become extinct. And to be honest, its the only place where my children will get to see a Black Rhinocerous for the next few years at least.

Cheetahs

Cheetahs

I had to stand in this spot for 12 minutes before they would turn around and look at me. I really regretted just taking one lens (I do light to travel light when I am not at a wedding) and whilst the 24-70mm f4 S is an absolutely stunning lens, it just doesn’t have the same reach as my 150-600mm

Asian Elephants - Mum and daughter

Asian Elephants - Mum and daughter

The Nikon Z6 is amazing, despite it being compact, it packs an incredible punch. The files are brilliant before you even start to edit.

Hungry and tired

Hungry and tired

I even let my 11 year old (who has a brilliant eye for photography) have a go with it at the end of the day. I did ask him why there is a parasol coming out of the top of my head, he just shrugged his shoulders at me.

Forget me nots in the garden

Forget me nots in the garden


Brit Floyd - Bridgewater Hall

Brit Floyd - Bridgewater Hall

Here, the camera is being tested whilst I was shooting Brit Floyd during their recent concert at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Low levels of light, Purple, Blue and Red (which all digital cameras hate) were in abundance. I think you will agree, it has performed pretty well.

Great Spotted Woodpecker eyeing up my feeding station

Great Spotted Woodpecker eyeing up my feeding station

Over the easter break, we took the kids up to Scotland. We have a family of woodpeckers that have been regularly visiting us there for the last three years. I cannot tell you how greedy these beautiful birds are. They have quite a personality too!


Anyhow, enough rambling from me, I really do need to work on my writing skills more. Perhaps I might do an online course when I get a spare minute. So, I will leave it there, and if you have booked your wedding with me, I shall be seeing you soon. If you haven’t booked, take a quick look round my website and social media, and then drop me a line with any questions you may have. I really will try and answer them all.

Technical stuff

Skip past this blog post if you have no interest in the technical journey of how your photos are created from the click of the shutter to their final resting place. Its not the most exciting post unless you are a little geeky.

The cameras

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There is a lot of talk about which camera is best, how fast they are, buffer speeds, JPEG or RAW, how many card slots, how many megapixels, digital or film. Full frame, crop sensor, mirrorless, micro 4/3.

I use Nikon Full Frame cameras. I have always used Nikon because it was the first proper camera which was thrust in my hand by my boss 20 years ago. Its a simple as that. Once you start using a brand you get used to where the buttons are, how the menu systems work. Once you have learned how to use your particular brand of camera, you become aware of its strengths and weaknesses. All the major manufacturers produce similar specifications and in the right hands they can all create amazing photographs. They just do it in slightly different ways.

I own several, I have a main camera, a backup camera, and a backup for the backup. My eldest son has ‘stolen’ my fourth camera and he also has his own.

My main camera is a Nikon D810, a full frame camera with 36 megapixels. I chose it for its dynamic range. In simple terms, how well it can see into bright light whilst also looking into dark areas. This model has fantastic dynamic range, and is perfect for wedding photography. It can easily cope with changes in lighting, it can see into shadows without creating too much noise. It is fast, and has two memory card slots which create a master and a copy of each photo, building in a backup and redundancy should something go wrong. All three of my main cameras have dual card slots. A full frame camera has a bigger sensor, which enables it to record more light, and therefore more information, which ultimately produces better images when used in less than perfect lighting conditions (most weddings)


image courtesy of allframes5.org

image courtesy of allframes5.org

RAW/JPEG - which is best? RAW is like an unbaked cake mix ready to go into the oven. All the correct ingredients are in the bowl, in the right measures they have been mixed together. Whilst they can be eaten as they are, they won’t taste so good. RAW is simply a snapshot of every single detail that the lens can see recorded in digital form. The photos your phone takes as standard, or any compact point and shoot cameras are all generally taken in JPEG. When I take a photo and you peep on the back of the screen, it shows a JPEG file. This is just a rough guide. When you shoot in JPEG, the camera makes the choices on how your photo should look. Its like a baked cake, but without any icing or decoration. They can leave your photos looking a bit flat.

image courtesy of photographycourse.net

image courtesy of photographycourse.net



I shoot uncompressed RAW images. This captures an incredible amount of information, some of which cannot be seen without editing. It records literally every detail in a scene whether in bright light or almost pitch black.

Research

A sometimes overlooked aspect of a wedding photographer’s remit is research.

I take great pride with the research I conduct prior to photographing a wedding. Here is a little exerpt from what you should be expecting your wedding photographer to be doing on your behalf behind the scenes (even if you don’t book me).

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What if?

don’t worry. i’ve got this.




Once the details have been confirmed with me following your booking, I will set out my plan for your big day.

ONLINE - I will study the venues online, and get a basic feel for their layout. I will plan 3 routes to the wedding and make notes on the times and distances of each. If you are using different venues for the ceremony and then your reception, I will plan 3 routes between them and the anticipated journey times. This builds in my margins for error. Any problems such as road closures, accidents and so forth mean that i can simply change to plan B or C as necessary. I will check the routes to see if there are any sites of interest for your photographs on the way. I will speak with your wedding planners, or venue managers and clergymen and arrange appointments to visit them.

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Online

checking the maps and local area.




DUMMY RUN - I will drive to your venues and meet people and suppliers involved in your big day and discuss any arrangements, rules in church, and so on. I will use a Sekonic light meter to take light readings in any of the rooms you may be using, and studying where the ambient light is coming from. I will have a walk round your venue, internally (in case of bad weather) and externally for good weather to plan where we can take your formal shots. I will take a number of record shots for my own planning purposes so that nothing is left to chance on your big day.

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3 Routes

always have a backup plan





Once i have completed all this, I shall send you a mini update on my findings .Because it may be a while between you booking me and the date of your wedding, this update (normally by email) often provides my brides and grooms with a little piece of mind that I havent forgotten them.

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Relax

i’ve done my homework





One month before your wedding, I will check with your suppliers that everything is in place and there have been no changes since I last saw them. Your formal group shot list has been finalised and acknowledged and everything is in place for you with a minimum amount of fuss from me. You may have other things to be concentrating on, so it is reassuring for them to hear that I can just get on with my arrangements.

The morning of…..

This is my first attempt at a blog. I’m not one for blowing my own trumpet, but it was suggested that I record some of my thoughts on my site, and tell a little story for some of the weddings I have the privilege to photograph and be a part of. I have included a few snaps which wouldn’t necessarily be included in the final album , but follow more of a documentary theme. One of the great advantages of being a wedding photographer is that you get the best view in the house, all day. Along with that view comes responsibility. I take this responsibility very seriously as I strive to capture the very best moments of a couple’s special day.

On a lovely September morning, I arrived at Mere Golf and Country Club, just down the road from Altrincham, Cheshire. This was the scene for today’s wedding. It’s normally quiet when I arrive at the venue, I like to ensure I am there well ahead of my planned arrival time (and thats even earlier than the start of the booking), but today, there was already a buzz about the place. I was working alongside a friend and great photographer Darren Bollington for this wedding. I met up with the venue staff and they showed me to the room where the wedding breakfast was being held. There was a flurry of activity taking place. People carrying table decorations, rushing from table to table, people holding lists and diagrams, and there was Ifty, the groom, holding his infant son Isaac. He was floating around the room without a care in the world, showing Isaac the colourful place settings, the flowers, the sweets in the jar which were too big for his little mouth. He was casually nodding in agreement, making small adjustments here and there.

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Preparations

The groom overseeing the room dressing, with a little help from his friends.

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Who is sitting with who

Always a key part of the wedding planning, the table plan.

Meanwhile, the girls were having a much easier time of it whilst they were getting ready. Bucks Fizz, champagne, hair, make up, nails, you name it, it was all happening. Lots of jokes and laughter, reminiscing and anticipation.

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Girls having fun

Over in the girl’s room, the Bride and her Bridesmaids were celebrating the upcoming nuptials.

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Sharp dressed baby

I love seeing these little suits for the children of the Bride and Groom.

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Little shoes to fill

No suit is complete without a smart pair of shiny shoes, even if you are only 8 months old!

There was a little drama though. As the room decorations were being finalised, there was an almighty crash! The ceiling was beautifully covered with what i can only describe as streams of white fabric, very elegant and they brightened up an already beautiful room. One of the streams came undone and fell to the floor, miraculously missing all the people below, and all the tables with their associated glassware and fancies. Seconds later, once we had established that everyone was unharmed, there was a quick crackle on the radio and a man appeared with a stepladder and a hammer and set everything back how it was. The rest of the day was a wonderful experience, with two cultures blending together seamlessly and, more importantly for me, some great images!

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Lunchtime

When you need your milk, you need your milk

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Ready to go

All set for mummy and daddy, complete with bow tie

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Just married

The formalities over, time to meet the guests.

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Congratulations