Ezgi and Joe were married at the stunning Chatsworth House in Derbyshire on 17th August 2012… and what a fantastic day! They both started their day by preparing at a local hotel before arriving at Chatsworth to be married. The weather looked foreboding as they entered the ceremony, but as they emerged as man and wife the skies held their rain.

Chatsworth House wedding photographs

The beautiful surroundings of Chatsworth and the sculpture gallery were used to great effect and Ezgi and Joe enjoyed being taken round on the buggy for their beautiful wedding photographs. As they arrived back, they made their way into the beautifully lit venue for their wedding breakfast and speeches. Finally it was time for the first dance – and what a dance, with Joe lifting Ezgi up and spinning her around! Fantastic!

If you’re considering a Chatsworth House wedding, please get in touch to discuss how I can help.

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Hot on the heels of the Asian wedding album, I’ve received the gorgeous black silk cover album from the Papakata wedding. It’s a compact 10″x10″ album, which is a very usable coffee table size while still giving plenty of detail in the photographs.

The pages are “flushmount”, meaning the page is just one large photo and photos are designed into that page. The advantage to this style is that photos can be anywhere – including right at the edge of the page or taking the entire page.

A Queensberry album is always a fantastic choice, with exceptional print quality, a very “built to last” feel and gorgeous cover options.

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I’ve just received a fantastic new Queensberry album from an Asian (Hindu) wedding recently. The beautiful full cover image was all about reds, whites and golds, so a matching red leather was chosen to complement it.

The album style is called “overlay”, where the photos are behind ivory white textured mats (see close-up photo) – similar to a framed photo. Queensberry are one a small number of album manufacturers who offer this option and it gives a beautifully classic and very individual look to an album.


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I received a beautiful Queensberry black silk cover album today. The quality of Queensberry albums always impresses me – and the fantastic mix of classic and contemporary is perfect for my customers. I’ve included a few closeups of the spine and first page with the big Q to show what I mean. Even the satin bag which covers it inside the box looks fantastic.

Enjoy the photos!

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Siobhan & Chris were married in their home town in a beautiful modern Catholic church ceremony. The morning was spent with Siobhan and her friends having fun as they prepared. Chris has sent Siobhan a special personal keepsake which set the scene for their connection as a couple.

Bells of Peover / Papakata party!

After the ceremony they and their guests spent the evening with the hospitality of the Bells of Peover in Knutsford. The venue has new gardens which has just been finished and it looked stunning in the afternoon sun. In one corner a Papakata teepee style tent had been erected. It’s not the first time I’ve worked with a tent from this company and they had done a fantastic job of putting together something which suited the overall theme of the day.

In the evening they enjoyed fun and emotional speeches and then partied in the tent. The fun shots show how much they enjoyed themselves 🙂

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I’ve been neglecting my blog a little lately – mostly because I’ve been very busy photographing wedding and my website is in the process of being redeveloped.

However, I returned from Sicily on Sunday after photographing the destination wedding of Simon and Sophie in Taormina and I just had to find time to share it.

I was in Taormina for 3 days and had a chance to take in the sights and sounds of this incredible Sicilian town. As was expected, the Gelato (ice cream) was amazing and the sun shone for the entire time. The wedding took place in a relatively comfortable 30 degrees and the blue skies and sea made for some beautiful photographs.

I’ll stop now and let you enjoy the photographs… but if you’re considering your own Italian destination wedding, get in touch 🙂


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  1. Neil Bowler neilbowler.com

    You lucky devil…

    Gorgeous work Phil.

  2. Gary Derbridge gdphotographer.co.uk

    Beautiful photographs Phil!

  3. Reply

    Some really cool shoots there!!! lucky you :p

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And the 5d mark iv is out!!

To read my review of the newest camera, look here at my canon 5d mark iv review.

First off…

Let’s start off with some honesty: I’m not a professional reviewer so this will be an “outside of the lab and in the real world” review. I also already shoot with Canon.

3 years in…

I thought I’d preface this review with my long term view of the 5d3. I’ve owned and used it now for best part of 3 years and I know all about it. What was good and what was bad?

The pros

  • It’s been very reliable and hasn’t let me down. The shutter was replaced recently since it was over 200k, but it probably didn’t need it. One button needed replacing too (the back button focus one). For a camera with that much use, it’s been exceptional.
  • The AF has been amazing. On the whole the AF has been amazing. If there’s one area where it still isn’t 100% though it’s under dark tungsten light at the wedding reception (usually the speeches).
  • ISO6400 was really usable. I’m perfectly happy using ISO6400 and I find ISO3200 can take quite a push (maybe a stop) before I’m unhappy with the image quality.
  • Silent shutter! I’ve left the silent shutter on for pretty much the entire life of the camera and it’s been amazing. It’s really helped my photo journalistic style.

The cons

  • I’ve lost shots because I can’t see the AF points. On occasion, with dark receptions in the first dance, I’ve lost my selected AF point and I have missed a shot.
  • Low ISO dynamic range. On the odd occasion I have wished for nicer quality deep shadows, especially at low ISO. It’s not often, but occasional.
  • More features please! The 1dx received a firmware update with some features half way through it’s life. Several of those would have been fantastic for the 5d3 too, since there’s many more of them than 1dx’s. Other camera systems, such as Fuji, are starting to offer more features mid-life and there are rumours Nikon will be doing too.

Overall I don’t think I could have bought a better wedding camera. Nothing is perfect, but it certainly came close.

And now on with the original review…

What’s important to a wedding photographer?

A month or so ago, Canon released the new 5diii. How does it stand up as a wedding camera? To answer that, we need to know what’s important to a wedding photographer. Here are my key thoughts:

  • Accurate and quick focussing
  • Excellent high ISO quality
  • To ensure you can deliver the photos
  • Stay quiet and unobtrusive
  • Speed of use
  • Shoot in any conditions

Handling & usability

The 5diii is similar is usage to the 5dii, so if that was your previous camera you’ll feel right at home. A few buttons have changes – there’s a new rate button which I doubt will be of massive use to wedding photographers – but on the whole it’s an incremental change. Of more importance, the mode dial has a lock feature which means it’s not possible to accidentally knock it any more.

Canon have added a feature which allows you to map many of the buttons to work in a way you would like them to. Particularly popular for wedding photographers right now is being able to reassign the DOF preview button (now on the right hand side of the lens) to temporarily switch focussing mode from one shot to AI servo (or vice versa). My favourite is remapping the “Set” button as a change ISO option – you hold “Set” and change ISO with the front dial. When in Manual mode, this allows you to continue to see your exposure meter which really helps.

One of the most important changes for me is the inclusion of dual card slots into the camera. There is now a CF and an SD card slot and you may write your files to both at the same time. This will allow me to use 64Gb cards and not have to switch over the day since I’ll always have a backup – bliss!!

Auto ISO on a canon 5diii

Also on the positive front is providing a usable auto ISO function (it was very poorly implemented on the 5dii). I’ve never really used auto ISO before, but effectively it’s the same as any other auto mode. On using it at a wedding I found myself really liking it. However, Canon have not provided EC with Manual mode with using auto ISO and it really needs it. The auto ISO options are also a little on the light side: there’s no option to choose, say, 1/80th as the minimum shutter speed. Providing EC (Exposure Compensation) with Manual mode would solve a large part of this problem. It’s also missing the option to limit ISO by third stops – you can only choose 6400, 12800 etc…

The disappointment is that Canon didn’t provide support for the UHS SD cards so the SD slot is significantly slower to write. As a further disappointment, the buffer size has not increased so if you wanted to write RAW to the CF and JPEG to the SD, the buffer is only 6 shots. The buffer isn’t bad if you’re writing the same RAW files to both card though – about 14 shots.

The slow writing to the SD card though means it’s more difficult to take advantage of the upgraded 6fps shooting mode (up from 4fps with the 5dii) while shooting RAW and JPEG. However, in practice I personally found virtually no instances where this affected my work since I shoot RAW to both cards.

One of the most impressive features is the new silent mode shutter. This halves the amount of noise the shutter puts out and will be fantastic for shooting in a quiet church near to the couple. Kudos for such an effective feature Canon! In Church the shutter was effectively silent to those around me. I doubt anyone heard me shooting. View a video demonstration below:

When considering the body, the weather sealing of the camera is improved. I never had a problem shooting with my 5dii in rainy conditions, but the 5diii should be even more secure.

The body also feels better in my hands – more modern grips and better sculpted.

Screen, menus & viewing photos

The screen on a digital camera is incredibly important these days. Gone are the days where it’s impossible to check the accuracy of exposure on your screen – these screens now offer the ability to view your photos in bright light. I found the 5diii was the closest yet to having the brightness needed to view the image in bright light, but I found the auto brightness option really wasn’t that effective which is a shame.

The significant change is to the zoom function. Rather than having zoom in / zoom out using the buttons on the back right side of the camera, there is a dedicated zoom function and you use the front scroll wheel to zoom in and out. That takes a bit of getting used to. On the positive side, it’s possible to zoom straight in to 100% on the last focus point to check focus quickly. That’s a really welcome change when confirming that your focus is accurate before moving on.

There is an all new menu system too which is similar to the previous one, but with more pages. The menus are definitely easier to navigate through. The custom functions have also been moved out of the deep difficult to find menus and there is useful help explaining the various functions now.

Focus system

5diii AF sensor points

It’s obviously important to a couple that their photos are in focus. The 5dii was dead on in good light and fairly accurate in low light, but only the centre point was really usable. I personally took more photos that necessary just to ensure I had photos in focus. In poor light I’d also use the focus assist on my canon flash (with the flash on minimum power, pointed away).

The 5diii has an all new pro focus system from the new 1DX with 61 points, where 41 are the more accurate cross type points. The 5 central points are a new special dual-cross type which should improve accuracy even more. In practice, the 5diii is able to focus down to -2 EV compared with -0.5EV with the 5dii and the focusing was spot on even in incredibly low light. It’s amazing!

At a wedding this allowed me to achieve shots I simply wouldn’t have been able to, or would have had to use the focus assist light on the 5dii. See the example shot – this sample shot was taken at ISO12800, f2, 1/125th – that’s not a lot of light! Yet the focusing is bang on.

The question often asked about focus systems is how many shots are in focus vs out of focus. Well, there were very few out of focus and those that were were probably my fault. However, in extreme low light the camera did take some time to focus but we’re talking about situations where the focus system would be pushed to it’s maximum. Was it 100%? No, but it was pretty close…

To go with this, there is a new focus menu which 20-30 options. You’re able to make quite significant changes to the focus tracking system in order to work in conditions which are more simple (like someone walking towards you), as well as more complicated (like tracking ice skaters). It’s very flexible.

The slight disappointment is the viewfinder. It’s hard to see the red flash on a focus point in good light. I found an option where the AF point could switch off when focus was achieved and that helped a bit, but that mode doesn’t show the focus point when AI servo is switched on, so you can’t see where you’re focussing. There is also a problem where you can’t see the dark focus points against dark objects, so it can be hard to work out what you’re focussing on.


On the plus side, it’s got an integrated grid which can be switched on and off. I love a grid since it’s helps me keep everything straight and reduces my time spent making little corrections in post!

Image quality (IQ) and RAW files

5dii vs 5diii shadow quality at high ISO. 100% crops. Click to view full size.

The 5dii was widely regarded as having fantastic IQ. It had the double whammy of a high resolution 21MP sensor and yet keeping up with the 12MP Nikon d700 in high ISO tests – a truly astonishing sensor.

The 5diii builds on this with a 22MP sensor which features the same stunning skin tones with an improvement in high ISO noise of 1/2 to 1 stop in raw. In practice, I’d happily shoot the 5dii at ISO3200 in RAW when processed in LR. With the 5diii, the improvement in the quality of the noise (how it looks) I’d happily shoot at ISO8000, or maybe a little higher if the scene is fairly bright. (Note to Canon: Please can we have third stop ISOs with the Auto ISO option?). That’s effectively a stop and a third improvement in usable ISO range while keeping the same resolution. As a test I’ve also done a shot at ISO25,600 (below). You couldn’t expect good quality large shots at these kinds of ISO’s – you won’t get them – but for web sized images or small prints you might just get away with it if you are careful with the initial exposure and apply a lot of noise reduction.

canon 5d3 iso25600


Where Canon falls compared to it’s competition is low ISO (ISO100-400) dynamic range – the deep, deep shadows are just not very nice quality. In practice, I would happily push the shadows by 2 stops, but not more. The competition are offering 4-5 stops now and this is something which Canon can work on in the future. Does this get in the way? No, not really for me. At a wedding there may be a few shots where more than 2 stops of deep shadows need be recovered. This is a subjective point though – others may find their needs are different.

What I do really like is that Canon kept this camera at 22MP. The competition is increasing the amount of MP all the time and, while this might be useful for landscape photographers, it does mean storing and processing photos becomes that much harder. 22MP will print a beautiful quality A2 photo so I neither need or want more resolution. Kudos again Canon.

As an aside, the camera also offers an improved JPEG engine with more effective noise reduction and many other elements. As I photograph in RAW it’s not an issue for me, but it’s a welcome improvement.

The competition?

I suppose I should talk about the various alternatives:

  • Canon 5dii: slightly lower quality at iso3200 than I’d like and focussing that you need to work around. Nice and cheap now though!
  • Canon 1ds3: similar in many ways to the 5dii but with much better focussing but a poor quality screen.
  • Canon 6d: effectively a newer version of the 5dii. A great camera in many ways, but won’t suit wedding photographers who like to use accurate AI Servo, especially with outer points (it only has one cross type point). Also only has a single card slot, which was a shame. Limited to 1/4000th of a second.
  • Canon 1d4: a 1.3x crop version of the 1ds3 which I always felt would ruin my lens selection at the wide end.
  • Canon 1DX: Canons newest offering (yet to be released). Likely to be the king of the hill for sports photographers but rather overkill for weddings and shutter is no where near as quiet.
  • Nikon D700: a great overall wedding camera used by many pros, but rather low resolution now at 12MP. Nice and cheap now though!
  • Nikon D3: similar to the D700 but a more professional body and feature set.
  • Nikon D3S: still the low light king (although 5d3 and d4 come close) and a great all round wedding camera. Still rather low resolution at 12MP. Probably what I’d be shooting with if I was a Nikon man.
  • Nikon D600 and D610: similar in many ways to the Canon 6d, but with dual card slots and better low ISO dynamic range. Limited to 1/4000th of a second.
  • D750: Probably Nikons best overall wedding camera currently, with 24mp, great low and high ISO quality and a reasonable amount of auto focus points, although fewer cross type points than I’d like personally. It’s also limited to 1/4000th and lacks a dedicated AF-ON button.
  • Nikon D800 and D810: Too many megapixels to be useful for wedding photographers (50-70Mb RAW files with no mRAW option!!) but fantastic low ISO dynamic range and decent high ISO performance. If you shoot JPEG, the file size isn’t so much of an issue. D810 offers a higher continuous shooting speed, which is benefit.
  • Nikon D4 and D4S: A combination of 16MP, great low ISO DR and great high ISO performance. Rather expensive though and more geared towards sports, like the 1dx.

On a general Nikon point, I’ve always found that Nikons tend to white balance towards green by a random amount. While some way like this look, I personally don’t. Cleaning this up in post costs me time and therefore money. It’s one of the reasons I’ve preferred Canon to Nikon.


Every camera has it’s pros and cons and the 5diii is no exception:

Pros, in order of importance to me

  • Dual card slots to backup image files
  • Class leading auto focus system
  • Clean high ISO (ISO6400 and maybe ISO8000 is very usable)
  • Silent shutter option
  • 22MP is just the right resolution
  • Improved weather sealing

Cons, in order of importance to me

  • Inability to see the red flash in the viewfinder in bright light (but there is a workaround) and inability to see the dark focus point against dark objects (for which there is no current workaround, but Canon are aware of). This really is the only serious issue and it should never have happened.
  • The auto ISO options are too limited – EC in Manual and options to choose any shutter speed and third stop ISOs are essential (this is only important if you’re going to use Auto ISO, but I recommend you give it a try…)
  • The lower speed SD card slot (only an issue if you shoot large bursts and especially if you want to shoot RAW to one card and JPEG to the other)
  • Poor quality deep shadows (only an issue if you push shadows more than 2 stops regularly to increase dynamic range)

On the whole it’s an amazing update which addresses the improvements that events photographers wanted to see from the 5dii. I personally believe this is the best overall wedding camera on the market today – it’s nearly the perfect combination of the right features at the right price.

While the 5dii had a fairly significant issue – the focus system – the 5diii only has minor issues and it has matured significantly because of it. On the price point, the 5diii is probably a little expensive, but you can buy two 5diii’s for not much more than a 1dx or d4. This makes it a very attractive option for a wedding photographer who is likely to upgrade again in 3 years.

Sample 5diii images from a real wedding

I can confidently say that some of the images in this selection could not have been taken by the 5dii without extra focus help..

Beautiful colours and subtle tones


Spot on focussing with the outer focus points


Even with a thin DOF, the focussing on the hand is perfect


The focussing is fast enough to capture a fleeting smirk


… and to capture an unexpected hand shake


Coupled with the Canon 135f2 lens, the camera can produce beautiful photos


And focussing with the outer focus points means razor sharp images


At f5.6 this shot is incredible sharp


Another very quick capture that the focussing system kept up with in low light


Accuracy of focussing through this mirror is fantastic




Auto ISO at work. I was moving around and found that Auto ISO gave me the ability to react quickly


Low light focussing on the dance floor


On a 5dii this kind of shot would have required a focus assist lamp


A new take on dance shots courtesy of the super accurate focussing


And another superb dance floor capture

Those beautiful lenses…

As a final point, the key Canon prime lenses (24L, 35L, 50L, 85L and 135L) are revered for their quality and the beauty of the images they produce. Only a Canon camera can use these and they are a constant reminder to me that, while a camera body is important, the lenses are equal or more so. They are a large reason I shoot Canon and will continue to do so.

Image shot on 5dii using 50mm 1.2 L

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  1. Reply

    I’m still not convinced that this justifies the price tag it has; it just doesn’t deliver (for me anyway) the extra value for the price.

    I love my 5Dii’s so I’ll be sticking with those for now.



    • phildweddingphotography.co.uk phildweddingphotography.co.uk

      I think it’s a fairly common view. However, for me and for my business, it’s just the right tool – it’s basically a mini 1dx… and that was justification enough for me 🙂

  2. Niel Stewart nielstewart.co.uk

    Couldn’t agree more. I’ve also passed the focus ligh issue back to canon – lets hope their listening. I’ve shot a few weddings on the 5DIII now and I’m very impressed.

    I also agree on the lenses front although I favour the 85 1.2 over the 50.

    All in all it’s very competent. The 600ex-rt are very good and seem to be reliable wirelessly.

    Just can’t wait for the grip for the 5DIII now!

    • phildweddingphotography.co.uk phildweddingphotography.co.uk

      Yes! They can’t bring the grip out quick enough! I hear it’s delayed again 🙁 🙁 🙁

  3. Martin Roe lenzflair.co.uk

    Fabulous and very useful review, Much appreciated. Definitely on my wish list, I love the 5d and the 5dii, but i’vd always suffered from uncertainty with focus, skin tones are streets ahead of anything else however. THank god this is here, I would have defected to Nikon otherwise!

  4. Reply

    I like this camera over the 5dII for one reason, the improved focusing. However, they should fix the focus points so they are visible in all situations. Just make it red and stay lighted up like the 1 series do.

    Thank you for the review, very well done.

  5. phildweddingphotography.co.uk phildweddingphotography.co.uk

    I wholeheartedly agree. It’s a little difficult to understand how they got to this situation. Very odd..

    It’s shame because they tarnished an otherwise amazing camera…

  6. Samchoo

    hi Phil, Thanks for the review.
    Many I ask you a question of the 50L and 24-70L?
    I love these lens but I am also quite disturbed by the focus shift they had. I hear Canon fix this in 5D3(even without microadjustmen). May I know you experience on this? Thanks a lot!

    • phildweddingphotography.co.uk phildweddingphotography.co.uk

      Hi Sam,
      My experience so far is that nothing has changed, but that doesn’t mean that nothing HAS changed – what is it you’ve heard and from where? It’s the first I’ve heard of this. My 24-70 and 50L were adjusted to suit my 5d2 so they’ve always been great..

  7. Neil Bowler neilbowler.com

    Great review Phil, enjoyed reading over that even though I’m Nikon.

    • phildweddingphotography.co.uk phildweddingphotography.co.uk

      Thank you! The whole Nikon vs. Canon stuff is a bit silly. It’s not VS – it’s tool for the job! And realistically both cameras are good enough for 95% of photographers needs anyway..

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Every now and then I have the opportunity to work with an absolutely ideal couple. Matt and Nicole are just that. These two love each other and enjoy life more than my words can say. When I finally met them face to face I was thrilled to find out how much fun and how easy to photograph they were. The entire shoot truly felt like I was just hanging out with long time friends. We began in downtown Santa Monica, spent some time running around the streets,and finally ended at the Pier…it was great, and I loved it!
I can’t wait for their wedding, which I will photograph in August.

For this shoot I used Canon 5d Mark II with 35 mm 1.4, 50 mm 1.4 and 100 2.0.
For off-camera flash photos I used canon speedlight with Photoflex LiteDome XS.

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About a month ago me and Fearon, who is amazing wedding planner decided to do an Ispirational shoot at her relatives’ farm.
We were very lucky to have Melissa & James as our wonderful bride and groom for this shoot. Smiles wouldn’t leave their faces for the entire shoot, even thought it got cold by the end of the day.
The table top design was created from items we found on the farm including old chairs, tractor seats, large red gas cans for the table base and an old fence for the table top. We scored some amazing linen from Mimi & Co. to dress the table up and provided burlap table cloths to cover the bales of hay.
Her hair was done by Adreana Cross at Mirage Salon, who is also a close friend. fearon purchased Melissa’s little dress from Ross for $20, which paired nicely with her brown boots. Fearon’s parents own an adorable Red Volkswagen Bug which made a perfect prop for this shoot. The bug is also available for rentals for photo shoots and weddings.

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It’s very important for a photographer to have control of their image, especially when shooting RAW. I was therefore very interested in the new highlights and whites sliders within Lightroom 4 beta .. but I wasn’t really ready for what they were going to let me do.

Recover maximum highlight detail with Lightroom 4

It’s my goal as a RAW photographer to use as much of the sensor as possible in a single capture in some cases. The Fill Light and Highlight Recovery tools in Lightroom 3 allowed me to do that to some extent, but I was always aware there was more sensor data which I just didn’t have access to.

Well, now I do.

Take a look at the images below showing original images, images processed using Highlight Recovery in Lightroom 3 and the new Highlights and Whites sliders in Lightroom 4 Beta. I know you don’t always want to get this amount of detail back and sometimes “blooming” light in the distance can make a photograph, but having the choice is incredible.

On to the photos…

This first photo shows a lit curtain behind a bride. I was aware that I must get the exposure right for the skin tones so couldn’t worry too much about the background. I’m amazed at how much detail Lightroom 4 beta has pulled back into the scene. Zoomed in, I can see a lot of the details of the folds in the curtain which I just can’t see in the Lightroom 3 render.

This second photo shows a scene which was captured as a silhouette. I was aware that the majority of the sky would be in range of the sensor and pulling some of the detail back in Lightroom 3 shows this. However, look how much further you can go with Lightroom 4 beta!

Finally, this is a shot of Concordes nose. Again, I had to make an exposure decision and concentrated on the people to the right (which are cropped off this test image). Even with the highlight recovery slider on full, Lightroom 3 does not manage to fully recover the highlights. However, Lightroom 4 beta creates smooth transitions between the highlights and the midtones, to render an image which is not overexposed anywhere.

Any problems?

Well, the only problem I can see so far is that pulling a lot of highlight detail back does tend to make Chromatic Abberation show up more, which is a shame. As with anything, you can also use the new tools too much, rendering the image unusual looking.


I’ve known for some time that the highlight recovery slider in Lightroom 3 left a lot of the captured data unattainable. However Lightroom 4 solves that problem. Used effective it can be a fantastic new tool in the photographers arsenal, allowing the full range of your cameras sensor to be used and producing a more HDR type effect from a single image.

Roll on higher usable dynamic range!

Capture One Pro 6

I was asked to compare this with Capture One. Here’s a render of the same scene as the first image with highlight and shadow sliders both set to full..

What do you think?

Leave a comment…

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  1. Reply

    Great review Phil, I’ve done a few experiments and it really is a great step forward. Do you find the new CA correction has improved? Have a look at a few sunny day wedding dress/Dark suited groom pictures. It does a really good job and the new Black slider has some subtlety too. Also Church windows respond well to the highlight slider.
    All best Si

    • phildweddingphotography.co.uk phildweddingphotography.co.uk

      It does an amazing job of pulling the original highlights right back into range and not affecting the rest of the image too much. Impressive.

      So far the CA removal tool doesn’t look like it’s done a massive amount for me, but I’ve not looked in detail.

  2. Reply

    Very interesting blog

    I downloaded the beta yesterday after being very very happy with using LR3 i didnt really expect the little changes to be so good-im an interior photographer and today did extensive testing on the highlights slider….. it is very good. My only gripe so far is that the previous “fill in” slider seemed to work alot better for what i do the the “whites”…..oh and the white/balance control on the adjustment brush is also a pretty awesome tool to have in ones armoury-just washed some unavoidable colour casting away today!

    Be interesting to see the update price?!


  3. Gary Derbridge gdphotographer.co.uk

    Great review Phil, very interesting read!

  4. Steve Hargreaves smhphotography.co.uk

    Great review and examples, will be interesting to see the final product when it is launched and how all my old LR3 presets work (or don’t) with LR4

  5. John Starns johnstarns.com

    Very interesting thank you; a significant leap forward. Am I right in thinking that LR3 presets are not transferable to 4?

    John Starns

  6. Sharon Mallinson symplyphotography.co.uk

    Interesting comparisons – off to experiment now! Thank you you

  7. Kelly Michelle soundkicks.com

    I am not a photographer but i like to use my canon to take photos. Your review is very educating. Thank you for sharing Phil

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The latest version of my favourite RAW processing software, Adobe Lightroom 4, has just been released in Beta.

New features in Lightroom 4 Beta

The major new features are:

  • A new highlight and shadow tool which work differently to the previous tools. The exposure function has been changed too to accommodate the new tools..
  • Photo book creation which allows you to make a pdf book, or upload straight to Blurb. A number of templates are included.
  • White balance local editing, which has been asked for a lot recently and certainly is something which I will appreciated for multiple white balance photographs. Also, noise reduction and moire local editing.
  • More video support
  • The clarity slider is better at preventing halo effects.
  • Soft proofing, which allows you to see how your pictures will look when they are finally printed. This has been another long requested feature.
  • … and a few other bits and pieces.
It’s likely that this will not be the full list of enhancements in the full version of LR4. It will reflect the tools which Adobe would like feedback on.

Why do I use Lightroom?

What is it about Adobe Lightroom that I like so much?

Well, fundamentally it allows me to give couples the hundreds of professional edited photos that I do, even considering the perfectionist that I am since it simplifies many of the jobs that would be difficult with other RAW development programs.

Go Adobe 🙂


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Winter weddings demystified!

In the deep of winter in the UK the night time settles in pretty early – usually around 4pm by December time. So, if you’re planning a winter wedding, what do you need to be aware of in order to get the best from your day and what ideas might help you along the way?

If you’re planning your own winter wedding, get in touch to discuss how I can help with your photography or to ask any questions about your day. I cover wedding throughout the UK and worldwide. I have covered many winter weddings and am very experienced at using lighting to the best effect.


Q: Why have a winter wedding?

If winter weddings are more difficult to organise because of lack of daylight, why have a wedding at winter? Well, the top reasons I’ve heard are:

  • We love a honeymoon destinations which has the best weather during the UK winter (such as the Caribbean, the Maldives or Thailand).
  • We love winter! The snow, the crisp, fresh morning and the Christmas feel.
  • Our preferred venue is already booked during the summer.
  • Our venue will be cheaper at Christmas.

So, you’ve decided you’re going to get married in winter. What extra preparations do you need to take?

1. What time for your winter wedding?

Since it’s likely to be dark by 4-5pm, you need to allow enough time for everything to happen. Too often couples get married around 2pm at a church and then have to travel to a venue and there’s no light left to take advantage of it.

Photography is obviously closest to my heart, so you should choose a photographer who can take well lit shots of the two of you indoors… and outdoors.

If you are getting married at the venue, I’d get married no later than 1.30. If you are getting married at a church and moving on, I’d get married no later than 1, or earlier if it takes a long time to travel to the venue.

Your photographer will usually need around an hour and a half minimum before you sit down at the venue to take all of the photographs necessary. If you are travelling, remember that everyone does not drive at the same speed and wedding cars often travel significantly slower.


If you are going to get married after sunset and your venue will be dark, make sure your photographer can show a wedding where they have covered this before, especially if they will be at the back of the ceremony room. Re-lighting an entire ceremony room is not for the inexperienced!

2. Which winter wedding venue?

In the winter the weather is not usually much worse than the British summertime, although it will be colder. However, you are more likely to have snow, rain, sleet or even fog. Selecting the right wedding venue for your winter wedding will be essential.


Your guests won’t want to be outside for long periods, so make sure the indoors will be an effective space. If you have very poor weather, it might be necessary to take photographs indoors, so consider where a shot of everyone will be taken and where your couple photos will work.

Also, if the weather is very snowy, how easy will your guests find it to attend the various locations during the day? Think about the roads they will have to travel on.

Finally, you need to make sure the wedding looks right. There’s little point in choosing bright colour which will not fit with the Christmas decorations at the venue. Dark colours tend to work best.

If you are to be married just before Christmas, you will often find that your venue will have decorated the venue for you which will save you money and give you a theme to begin with.

Make sure you speak to them about the decorations they will be using to ensure that you don’t clash.


3. Which winter wedding dress and outfit?

If you’re getting married in late November through to early February you can guarantee it’ll be cold – it may even not make it past zero degrees! That means you and your bidesmaids will need to consider how warm you’ll be outdoors for long periods when you’re thanking guests outside the church maybe, or when photographs are being taken.


Your winter wedding dress should have a shawl which you can add when necessary. Also consider your wedding shoes carefully because it may be slippy or wet underfoot. Or cheat and bring some boots to wear under your dress! Just make sure your dress will reach the floor…

4. What about winter wedding photography?

Photography is obviously closest to my heart. You should choose a photographer who can take well lit shots of the two of you indoors, outdoors and be able to take well lit group photographs indoors of groups, in case the weather isn’t suitable for outdoor photography, or there isn’t enough light during the day.


This will be essential. You should make sure they are capable of using “off camera flash” which will produce the best results.

5. Where to go for a winter honeymoon?


You’re lucky. Many of the most beautiful places in the world have the best weather during the UK winter. For your winter honeymoon, consider places like Mexico and the Caribbean, Mauritus, The Maldives and Africa, Zanzibar, Vietnam and Thailand, all of which are incredible at this time of year.

If you want to go further, take a look at Australia, New Zealand and South America too.

Finally…  get in touch to discuss how I can help with your photography. I am based in the North West of England but cover weddings worldwide.


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James and Ria were married at the incredible Concorde Hanger at Manchester Airport. What a stunning location for a wedding! Also, we were the first people to be able to photograph a wedding where the wedding ceremony was held outside of Concorde itself – underneath the massive engines. See how incredible it looked later!

If you’re getting married at Concorde, get in touch to discuss how I can help on your wedding day.

Inside Concorde there is a fantastic array of instruments in the cockpit – but watch your head because those ceilings are pretty low and we don’t want any bruises on the couples foreheads! The Airport had put ribbons around the chairs at the back for the signing of the register, which was to be done onboard.

Outside Concorde was everything that I had imagined as a child – massive engines, sleek design and an amazing pointed tip to cut through the air at Mach 2. No commercial airliner since has achieved these speeds.

When the guys arrived, they were clearly struck by the awe-inspiring sight of one of the icons of their youth.

And they had some fun onboard, including a surprisingly realistic fake crash!! Captain James looked every bit the man in control…

For something special, I had created a lighting setup to produce a unique photograph for them – with the plane and the guys lit up in a Welsh rugby scrum. This is a wedding photographers dream!As the other guests arrived there were cameras everywhere while people waited for the wedding as people grabbed photos of themselves all round Concord.

Now seated underneath Concorde and waiting for the brides arrival, this was clearly an incredible place to be married.

Ria arrived at the Concorde hanger and her dad clearly was in awe of the enormous place. She was escorted down the aisle by her bridal party.

Underneath Concorde, the wedding ceremony began and went through the beautiful ritual surrounded by a sea of red

One of Rias bridesmaids gave an emotional testament to her and James and the ceremony continued through to the applause from friends and family as they were pronounced man and wife.

The bridal party boarded Concorde to sign the registers and have some wedding portraits taken while their guests were arranged outside for their arrival as a newly wed couple for…
… an enormous confetti explosion in frone of the Concorde stairs. Ria and James then had a lit wedding photograph of themselves in front of Concorde.

The guests enjoyed themselves in the Concorde hanger, chatting and taking tours on board the iconic aircraft.

Finally it was time for Ria and James to be piped down the aisle surrounded by their friends and family……but they snuck back in afterwards for some beautiful Concorde wedding photographs. The plane and their hanger made for some particularly unique photographs of them two of them as a couple, but it’s safe to say that it is a day that their friends and family will never forget.


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  1. Gary Derbridge photographer gdphotographer.co.uk

    Great images Phil! What a cool place to photograph a wedding!

  2. martin roe lenzflair.co.uk

    Amazing venue and incredible photography. They would have been so dissapointed had they had a lesser photographer. Just stunning!

  3. Davdd Tyrer davidtyrer.co.uk

    Only recently came a cross your work…it’s gorgeous…love it!

  4. Aga photoTOM phototom.co.uk/blog

    What an incredible wedding venue!!!
    Totally socks rocking photography Phil, fantastic. x

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Justin & Sarah were married at the eclectic city centre Great John Street hotel in Manchester on Bonfire night. This amazing, urban boutique hotel is full of details and makes a stunning venue, whatever the time of year.

Sarah began by preparing in a suite where the split level room gave amazing opportunities for a fresh and unique view – see the photos below. The strong winter sun was shining into through the windows and lit up the proceedings. Sarah had had a special vintage themed dress made and she looked stunning in it.

On the Great John Street hotel rooftop…

During the tearful ceremony, they exchanged vows and were congratulated by their friends and family on the roof terrace, looking out over Manchester. We went for a walk in the local park to take some photographs of the two of them before returning to the hotel.

They enjoyed their wedding breakfast and speeches in the beautifully lit ceremony room and, as it was bonfire night, played with a few sparklers. Finally they shared a very unique take on a first dance – a complication of their favourite songs through time!

If you’re having an urban wedding in Manchester, please contact me to discuss your day.

Great John Street Hotel Wedding Photos

Justin & Sarah chose a vintage look to their wedding photos.


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  1. McAvoy photography mcavoyweddings.co.uk

    Some great images here, lighting and compositions work well, and the colours are gorgeous

  2. Reply

    I’ve photographed at Gt John Street myself and know how difficult it can be at times, but you’ve done a great job here Phil. Nice one!

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Rabya and Alex were married at Mottram Hall in Cheshire on a typical autumn day. Rabya spent the morning at Mottram in the Bridal Suite preparing with her bridesmaids. The ceremony was full of emotion and fun and afterwards we took some beautiful, natural photographs of the two of them together.

In the evening they broke with tradition and the only speeches were from the bride and groom themselves and finally they let their hair down for their first dance.

They chose a vintage colour style of photography and you can see evidence of this in the warm, brown tones of the photographs below.

If you’d like to discuss your Mottram Hall wedding, please contact me.

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I was speaking to my friends at Pomp & Ceremony Wedding Planning recently and asked them to share a little of what they do and also offer some advice as professional wedding planners. We’re both aware that planning a wedding is a tough business so they kindly obliged 🙂

Here’s what they had to say…

Wedding planning

As Cheshire wedding planners we work with couples in all stages of planning their big day from being there at the start of the preparations through to just being there on the day. As with all good things, coffee shop culture, shopping centres and Vogue to name a few, America has led the way in the wedding biz, followed by London and wedding planning is now taking off in the North West! Savvy brides-to-be realise that with a planner in tow anything is possible and they can actually save money.

Our favourite moments of our job are when we have either arranged a huge discount and we get to call the couple to announce the saving, or have finally tracked down the perfect item that we know will make the day complete, past examples include a dressmaker specialising in museum patterns and edible gold butterflies. Our lovely couples always make sure that we are kept busy and it’s such a pleasure to see the day come together in its own unique way.

Tips for your wedding day

Here are some tips for your big day, and congratulations if you are reading this… you have already found a fantastic photographer (Tick).


Create a budget right from the beginning of the process so that you can identify how much you have to spend in each area. This will make sourcing your suppliers for the day much easier and also reduce the stress of the costs escalating out of control.


Ideally start with the venue. This is usually the biggest cost so it is a good area to begin with to identify if money will need to be saved in other areas down the line.


Try on every shape before reaching a decision. Often what you think you want on a picture is different in reality so it’s good to experiment with shapes so that you get a dress that you look and feel amazing in.


Identify your most important areas such as food or music and put your energy into organising them, identifying areas that you are happy to compromise on is also a useful practice. This can give you some good save or splurge options.

Be Creative

Don’t feel pressure from other people’s wedding days, think about exactly what you want and start building your look from there. The best wedding days represent the couples taste and personality.

Good luck with your planning!

Caroline & Claire
x x

Pomp & Ceremony Planning

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