Crete wedding [repost]

{Originally posted on 12.06.09]

Very occasionally I do a wedding. I used to do loads, when I was on staff at Tearfund, as they were a way of earning money for camera gear (and a lot of people I knew were getting married…). Now I do maybe three or four a year, generally through friends or people I’ve met through work. The more interesting the location the better, which made Mo & Tongai’s wedding pretty special. It was already going to be a little exotic, with an incredibly international line-up of guests (16 nationalities represented), but the wedding itself was in Kefalas, Crete – too much to resist when they asked me!

It was an unusual weekend for me – loads of travel, flying from Manchester on Friday afternoon, getting very lost in Heraklion in my little hire car, driving or working most of Saturday, then home (via Gatwick) on Sunday afternoon. But just great fun to do, the wedding itself was fantastic, truly joyful, the location was beautiful (and the sun even came out in time for the ceremony – it was actually as hot in the UK that weekend as it was in Crete), and I had a wonderful time.

I couldn’t take my usual full lighting kit, so I worked with Nikon Speedlights on stands and through brollies (bit of the Strobist thing going on), and they worked pretty well. I’ve never been as big a fan as some people of Nikon’s CLS lighting system, and I’m still not, but switching the lights into manual mode rather than TTL ironed out any issues, and gave some great pictures. The thing I am, still, 18 months on, very very excited about, is the astonishing image quality in low light from the D3 and D700 combination. I shot some images at f1.4 or f2 on the new Nikon 50mm, and they’re beautiful – and print amazingly well too. There are, over and over again, images that would never have been possible before being made with these cameras. Even on TMax 3200 B&W film, which I used to love for its chunky hailstone-sized grain, there were things that you couldn’t get, at least cleanly. Here its in full vibrant colour, in near darkness.

Anyway, some good reading/film time (actually watched the whole six hours of the original BBC ‘State of Play’ on my iPhone – so much better than the new movie – great pacing and complexity to the story line and acting) during the traveling, and great to be part of such a special weekend. And it’s worth saying that I flew Easy Jet, and they were astonishingly good! Their reputation isn’t always great, and this was a very busy weekend to be flying, at the end of the half term holiday, but I found them to be friendly, helpful, clean, and they felt safe to fly with (which I kind of like really…). The only major differences from flying with a full service airline was paying for food on-board (and even that wasn’t too painfully expensive) and the enthusiastic selling of on-board lottery cards…

If you’re interested in me doing a wedding for you, it doesn’t have to be in Crete, or anywhere as exotic, but the more interesting the location, the more likely I am to say yes! [edit – my wedding website is]

If you were a guest at Mo and Tongai’s wedding, and can’t find the web gallery, drop me an email, and I’ll forward the link to you. Meanwhile, here’s a couple of pictures showing the setting (and what the cameras can do in low light).

Ambient/flash (CLS Speedlight through umbrella) mix

Ambient only – 640 iso, no grain or noise in sight.

Ambient sunset mixed with Nikon CLS flash lighting balanced from both sides.

3200 iso – on a long lens at 1/60s – the kind of shot that wouldn’t have been possible a couple of years ago.

I set up two flashes across the space where the speeches and cake were being done. The top shot shows both flashes firing (I’m on iso 800 at this point), the bottom shot shows just the flash behind Mo and Tongai’s heads firing (because the other one hadn’t recharged) – I think they both work as pictures, but I love the fact that the second shot still works so well, even with the light doing odd things, and that there’s enough quality in the detail of this image for it be totally usable (in fact, its one of my favourite shots of the day). Cool cake too…

ISO3200 again, 14mm lens, enough in the file to keep some sky detail, the pool and the guests all without any added lighting.



These three are all on the new Nikon 50mm f1.4, at just hand holdable speeds (between 1/60 and 1/125s) at f1.4 or f1.8 at ISO3200. The colours are very true to life, and without the flash, a lot of the atmosphere of the evening is retained. The other thing I love about these two cameras is that there is no visible difference between the images they produce, so I can happily switch to the much more discreet D700 if I want to, without compromising the image quality in any way. I still prefer my D3, just for its ‘heft’ and build quality, but as a pairing, they’re stunning.

richard hanson :: photographer :: sheffield