Alston Hall is a government owned large country house with some rather nice features and grounds. It’s primary use has been residential adult education, with various courses available. They also provide conference facilities too, and with the current economic climate, they are being pressured to source more funding for themselves. They’ve been granted a wedding licence and have already had several bookings within weeks.

This is where I come in, as they have no wedding images at all to promote the venue.

The day was wall to wall sunshine and couldn’t have been better. I began with the internal shots of the two licensed rooms. One rather grand and very light, the second a very beautiful ex-chapel, which is superb for the smaller wedding party. Very intimate!

My particular favourite is definitely the Chapel (although for licensing reasons, they can’t call it a Chapel!).

Very atmospheric and intimate, and a wonderful opportunity for photographs, with a beautiful modern stained glass window too.

So, whilst the sunlight provided excellent ambient light within the hall itself, it was going to be more of a problem outside. The sun would produce quite harsh contrast, with very black shadows. A white wedding dress on a sunny day can cause all sorts of havoc with the metering system too, not to mention creating a dynamic range that will give you a real headache!

Whereas most folks (and especially brides!) think the best possible day is a sunny one, most photographers would disagree. Generally, photographers will hope for an overcast day, reducing the dynamic range required to be captured, and also avoiding the “raccoon eyes” syndrome!

Personally, I quite like sunny days. I love the deep saturation you get with the colours and the additional benefits of using low ISO values with high shutter speeds and smaller apertures. It just provides a much richer image. As for dynamic range problems, I prefer to add even more lighting to fill the shadows. In this particular instance, I turned to the Safari system from Lencarta. Using a single 600ws head, coupled to a 120cm folding Octabox, I had all the light I needed, and plenty in reserve.

The image at the top of the page was a basic “cross lighting” setup, with the sun used as the key source to the left, and the Safari used as a fill from camera right (barely out of frame) at about a 1/4 output. (D3 ISO200 1/200th sec f9).

The image below was taken at the side of the Hall, and whilst the Hall was in sunshine, the gardens were not. I had the Octabox at 12 feet to give the light a similar direction to the sun (sort of!) and matched the output to the light levels of the Hall itself. The main focus of the Octa was at the couples heads and chests, with a nice fall off towards their feet. This was to reduce the possibility of harsh or bright light on the ground, which would have seemed a little odd. The Safari was set at 1/2 output. (D3 ISO200 1/200th sec f9).

And the “behind the scenes” sort of thing can be seen below:

If you are interested in Alston Hall as a wedding venue, your contact is Sarah Wilcock, and her details can be found here.

My wedding work can be found at :