Singing Waiters Part 2

This is the second part of the video taken on Saturday at Deanne and Peters wedding featuring the singing waiters.

If you haven’t seen the first part you can view it by clicking here, then you can come back here afterwards.



Many thanks for stopping by

Dom :-)

Deanne & Peter’s Big Surprise

On Saturday I shot the wedding of Deanne and Peter at a wonderful venue called The Ravenswood. Everything went just as pretty much every wedding I get to shoot, it went perfectly, but there was one small part of the day that I knew was on it’s way. A big surprise none of the guests knew about.

There were some very special waiters on duty and yet nothing about them came across as being unique or out of place all the way through the drinks being served after the wedding, or for the serving of the starters and main course, but just as the pudding had finished being served, the three waiters with the Russian accents marched out from a side door complete with……well, instead of me telling you, why don’t you watch it!

The following video is the first I have ever shot with my camera gear. I am a photographer, not a videographer, and I think that’s clear by my efforts shown here, but, I had a word with Deanne and Peter before the surprise, which they knew about because they organised it, and basically said I don’t think taking pictures of this will do it justice, so if you like I’ll video it but I can’t promise what it’ll be like.

Well this is part one, there will be more to follow in the next few days.


Many thanks for dropping by.

Dom :-)


(The second part of the video is now online and can be found by clicking here)

Cloning Out In Photoshop

I’ve had the privilege of shooting quite a few weddings, I think I’m up to about 45 now, and they have been a mix of church or civil ceremonies but before Annalea & Ben’s big day none of them have been a Catholic wedding.

This wedding was held at The Friary in Crawley, which is situated right next door to the town centre, and I have no idea if this is normal for catholic churches or not because I have never witnessed this at Church of England weddings, but members of the public would just walk in whilst the ceremony was under way, quietly sit down somewhere and have a pray and a moment or two to gather their thoughts and then just get up and leave.

I do realise that churches, when unlocked, are open to anyone to visit, but  have never known just anyone to walk in whilst a wedding was under-way unless they were actually part of the wedding party and the thing was, because Crawley is such a busy town it wasn’t just one or two who popped in for five minutes, it was more like 6 or 7 throughout the course of the wedding.

These quick visits were of  no issue to me, they were just a bit of a surprise, well I say no issue, at one point only did it become a minor issue. As the bride and groom were leaving the church and I was walking backwards photographing their exit, another visitor entered and had sat down to pray in the very back row. The bride and groom got to the top of the aisle just before the exit and stopped for a quick kiss. I wasn’t going to stop what was a natural moment to ask the guest to shift to their left by about 6 feet just so I could capture the moment without them in it, I had to capture it there and then with her in it as well.

However, with the greatest of respect to the visitor, I am now looking at a good image that has a huge distraction in it. So what can I do about it?

As luck would have it there is enough real estate either side of the person to allow me to do some cloning out in photoshop that will allow me to remove them out without to much of an issue. So once I had finished globally editing the image in Lightroom I right clicked the image and chose Edit In and then selected to open as a Smart Object in Photoshop CC 2014.

Once opened in Photoshop I then head to the bottom of layer panel on the right hand side and choose add a new blank layer.

Now I grab the cloning tool, but, because we are working on a blank layer it has nothing to sample across into the area that is to be cloned, so we need to select Sample option as Current and Below, because if we leave it as current it will sample nothing.


Next we need to mark where we are gong to sample from and then start painting in the sample to the place that we want cloned out. So here I have sampled the seat edge to the left by holding the ALT key and clicking the exact place I want to start the sample from and have then lined the brush up carefully with where the seat edge is right where the lady is sitting and then I start to paint away carefully ensuring that the cloned out area continues to match and importantly look realistic.


To enable any blending to look more realistic I tend to leave the hardness of the of the brush at 0% so it has a nice soft edge. Also, to do this carefully it is ideal if you don’t use a brush that is to big. Covering to much area in a single brush stroke can lead to things going off-line and uncontrolled quite quickly.

If  at any point the alignments start to go slightly off line I will then stop and re-sample, and continue to brush the clone tool until it is done.

However, once it is done, if you can see a pattern has appeared in the area you have cloned out and it is quite obvious to you that something has been done in that area, it can then be quite easy to find yourself try to rectify it and go overboard with it by continuing to clone the area over and over again just  to try and make it look more natural. There is a bit of a trick to blending things in better.

What I did here was to finish the base cloning so that the lady was now removed, but a couple of areas, to my eye, looked a bit off, so I re-sampled further down the bench to the left and changed the opacity of the brush down to a much lower number, somewhere between 25-50% and then carefully lining it up with where I wanted to brush and brush only a couple of times and it gave that area a much more finished feel by just smoothing out a bit of patterning that had appeared.

Once finished I then switch that top layer on and off to see the actual change and that in itself gives you a clear view of exactly how well you have cloned out whatever it was you were cloning out and how natural the finished image now looks. Once I was happy with it I simply save the image and head back to Lightroom to carry on with the editing.

One thing I will say about cloning, is that the results you get really does depend on what you have to work with within the image itself and how much practice you get at cloning, because it’s not easy. I remember in my early days of trying to clone stuff out, failing miserably, closing it all down, coming back to it the next day and giving it another go. Some efforts were more successful that others but over time the fails have dwindled and the successes have risen, and that’s all due to practice and patients.

Well, I now have an image I am very happy with. I know there is a bridesmaid just over the grooms shoulder, but she was part of the wedding and so I can accept her being there, but the guest lady, well I know she had every right to be there, I just feel she didn’t add anything to my image and so she had to go. Harsh but fair I think lol.

Well that’s it from me for now. If you have any questions about cloning or would like to comment then please feel free to use the comment form below.

Catch up soon……Dom :-)

Sunset Portraits

At most weddings I shoot I like to be able to create some brilliant, stand out photographs of the bride and groom at sunset, where hopefully we will have a stunning sky as our backdrop. It doesn’t always materialise, this is the UK, we don’t get blessed with the weather being favourable when we want it to.

So how do I go about shooting these images. It takes a blend of the sunset, obviously, some artificial light in the shape of a flashgun, a triggering system and the correct settings on my camera, and that’s what I will explain right now.

Tonight there has been a fairly decent sunset, so I employed the help of my eldest son as my model just so that I could get some images together to show you the process of getting these images correct in camera. He may look reasonably happy about it but he was happier once he was allowed to go back in!

So the first thing we do is to get the sunset exposed correctly, or should I say creatively correct. Now I have to assume the triggering system you have for your off camera flash doesn’t have high speed sync. So the very first things to do is set your shutter speed to that of the sync speed of your camera, or if your triggering system dictates a lower speed than that then it should be set to that instead. The reason I mention this is that my camera has a sync speed of 1/250th, yet when I triggered the flashes via a set of Strato’s from Phottix I found they could only handle 1/200th, so that’s what I had to set my shutter speed to.

So with my shutter set at 1/200th, or less because you can go lower if you wish, I then look to set the ISO which in this case is set to ISO200. After that I then look to set the aperture, and it’s at this point that we take notice of the exposure meter. What I want to do is underexpose the sky just to make it a bit more dramatic, and in many respects more colourful. The camera’s onboard meter was telling me that f/7.1 would be a perfect exposure, so I shifted it down to f/13 and took a test shot. The following image was the result. I figured it was just a tad too dark so changed it to f/10

Now with the sky perfectly the way I want it at f/10 its time to bring in the very willing model, which for me is very usually a bride and groom, but here I introduce to you Tomas. The 11 year old who already has the attitude of a 15 year old who thinks the his parents are just boring and obstructive to his fun and freedom, and I guess he is right for these 5 minutes as he follows my orders perfectly lol. Well as you can see, bringing in the model and taking the shot just leaves you with a very dark, silhouetted young man. Now we need that flashgun.

From here on in, because they sky is exactly the way we want it with the settings we put into the camera, we do not touch those settings. If we do change them then the exposure of the sky will change to and that’s not what we want. What we do now is only work with the flashgun, which is normally sitting on top of a lightstand but in this case it was perched on top of a wall. Now, if you’re after some scientific, mathematical formula to get the right power level for the flash then, you’ll be disappointed.

There may very well be a way of going down that route but I prefer the good old shoot and see approach, and best of all it’s quick and easy. So, pick a number, in this case I went for 1/2, or half power if you like. This turned out to be just a bit to bright for my liking, so we have two options, both of which will have the same effect of dimming down the light. The first is to simply drop the power down to a lower level, and the second option would be to move the flashgun further away from the model, but my flash wasn’t on a lightstand and I couldn’t exactly shift the wall it was sitting on. I know I had the option to ask Tomas to move further to his left, our right, but I didn’t want to run the risk of annoying him, so I went with the simpler manoeuvre of shifting the power down to 1/4, or a quarter power and the following image is the result.

So now we have it all the way we want it we can have a bit of fun with it, but you can’t hang around for to long as that sun will be continuing to set and eventually the ambient light will have reduced to far, as you can see through just these four shots how quickly the sky can change and so you will have to start again by setting the camera the way you want it for the sky and then the flash after that for the model.

I really hope this is easy enough to follow and that you can have some fun creating some outstandingly creative sunset portraits.


Have fun, and I shall be back here soon.

Dom :-)

On The Rails

A few weeks back I shot a wedding where we had the perfect opportunity to use something different for the Bride/Groom portraits when we found the A23 dual carriageway in front of the Gatwick Manor was closed due to a sink hole opening up further down the road. Well, it’s happened again, but this time it wasn’t a road, it was on the rails!

Last weekend the wife and I had the privilege of working together on Hollie and Alan’s wedding up in March, Cambridgeshire and because of the distance involved we decided it would be wise to travel up the night before and stay in a Travelodge a few miles away just outside of Peterborough, so it saved us from having to get up halfway through the night to travel up on the day.

Just like normal, a few weeks before the wedding I had a meeting with Hollie an Alan to discuss the finer details of the day and then went off to check out the venues so I could have a clear idea in my mind ahead of the day as to what we would do and where we would do it. Now the thing is, our journey to March was from the south and only saw what was in the town, at the venues and anything that was south of it, I didn’t venture north of the town to see what was there.

However, because we stayed near Peterborough, our journey into March effective meant we came in from the north and so I got to see a few things I didn’t get to see when I came up for the meeting. One of those things was a railway, and immediately it sparked my interest as a very unique place to do some of the Bride/Groom portraits, and there’s a good reason why.

From the very start here I wish to express that this railway is completely unused, overgrown, and hasn’t seen a train down it for years judging by the colour and rustiness of the rails, and just like if the A23 dual carriageway had been open, I would never condone using it if the railway had been a working one as that would be very dangerous and plainly stupid. I’m opportunistic and safety conscious, not irresponsible and risk taking.

So I set about shooting Hollie and Alan from various lengths and heights, with the use of my trusty ladder, trying to find the best way to convey the story of where they are. Shooting them close up with no height would leave you seeing very little of the rails but I like this one as you can clearly see where they are, plenty of the rails and a large amount of the dramatic sky.

I realise images composed this way are not for everyone, which is why I will run through a few variants but I like images like this and I hope Hollie and Alan will like it to. They were blessed with a brilliant day, as you can see from the sky, it really was a pleasure to shoot their wedding and be part of their big day.

It’ll be a few weeks till they get to see the rest of their images because I’ve been very busy shooting weddings and I have a bit of an edit queue, but I hope they find the wait to be worthwhile.

So back to the editing I go, hope to catch up again soon.


Dom :-)