A D Hall Photography

Event Photography - Wittering Summer Ball

July is proving to be a busy month with weddings at different ends of the country, but I also had the immense honour to be booked as the photographer at RAF Wittering’s Sergeants’ Mess Summer Ball. Their previously-used photographer was already booked, so thanks to some speculative communications on my part, their committee already had my contact details.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll see that I’ve done Balls at military bases before – however, this time there was an interesting request: could I do ‘green screen’ and offer a choice of background?

This is something I’d not previously even tried, let alone accepted payment to do. So, wanting to secure the booking, but not leaving myself in a position to fail, I asked for a couple of days to check out the options. Some parts are quite simple, such as buying a plain green backdrop, and shooting tethered to a laptop. However, the actual processing of green screen at a speed and simplicity required at an event was a new proposition. I did the usual Google search and tried out a couple of software trials, before finally selecting an application called ‘Green Screen Wizard.’ As the name suggests, it automates a great deal of the processing, and allows the preview and selection of a number of different backgrounds.

further trial at home in the living room proved that I could create a work-flow that not only ensured I could offer the service, but that it could be done pretty seamlessly and swiftly at the event (guests are quite rightly more interested in enjoying their evening than waiting an age to choose their photos.)

So, on 8 Jul I set up at the Sergeants’ mess, with my eldest Niece acting as my glamorous assistant for the night, in one of their rooms and prepared to see if what worked in testing would work in anger.

All set for the green screen magic! 

All set for the green screen magic! 

In the interests of speed and reliability, I set my camera up to store 2 copies of each picture: a full-resolution, maximum quality file that would stay on the memory card in the camera, and a small, low(ish) quality file that would be sent to the laptop.  In this way, the guests could rapidly see a preview of their picture, and choose their backdrop.  This actually worked really well, as the preview was of high enough quality for viewing on the screen and allowed the laptop to rapidly process the green-screen with no glitches or slowness.  Once back at the studio, I then processed the high quality version, and produced their final image.  Also, for the images that included areas of the room outside of the green screen (large groups for example) I could then open the image in Photoshop and fill-in those areas with a green fill, re-import into Green Screen Wizard and produce the final image.

With the green screen.

With the green screen.

After the background is applied.

After the background is applied.

If you went to the event, your pictures have been printed by my pro lab (the excellent Loxley Colour based up in Glasgow) and I’m now waiting on the mount frames (from the equally excellent Photovalue) with the correct event info printed on them – I hope to have them this weekend for a bulk delivery to the mess.

A Lincoln Engagement Shoot

Hi everyone, just a quick update today.  I had the very great pleasure of photographing my good friend Tom and his beautiful fiancee Aimi this weekend.  I'm photographing their wedding later this year, so I suggested we do an engagement shoot, to get them used to working with me, and it also gave me the excuse to use a location I'd been thinking of for a while.

Those of you who know Lincoln, you may recognise the little church of St Benedicts, on the pedestrian section of the High Street.  It's right in the centre of the busy shopping area, but I always consider it a little pocket of calm!

We were really lucky with the weather, the sun was out with the trees giving some really nice light.

I'll leave you with some of my favourite pictures of the shoot - and remember if you're looking for wedding photography please consider discussing an engagement session with me as it's a great way to spend an hour or so, and really helps on the big day removing that 'not-used-to-being-in-front-of-the-camera' feeling!

A Great Event Shoot for Christmas.

In my previous post, I promised that I’d not leave it so long before my next update – and here it is!  The headline piece of activity is that we were really honoured to do the portrait photography for the RAF Cosford Officers’ Mess Christmas Draw.  We had a fantastic evening, with all the guests having a great time and loving having their photographs taken, the fun props ensured people kept coming back for more!  If you were at the event, and you ordered prints on the night, they are right now being produced by my favourite pro print lab (the excellent Loxley Colour)  and will be with me later this week ready for mounting and sending back to the Mess for you to collect.  If you didn’t order on the night, you can still get prints and downloads direct from my sales website – just follow the link under ‘Client Galleries’.


You may have seen on my FaceBook page that I’d ordered a ‘roller banner’ for advertising at events, wedding fayres and the like.  It was a really good ‘Black Friday’ deal from Colour 24; I was especially pleased that it arrived in time for the Christmas Draw and that it has come out looking fantastic (if I do say so myself!)


A relatively short update this time around, but I should have a couple more posts before Christmas, as there are a couple of interesting assignments coming up.  This is the first blog post that I’ve integrated with an e-mail distribution service – so if you’re getting this in your in-box it’s because you’ve booked us previously or bought images from us. I don’t want to fill inboxes unnecessarily, so if you’d rather not receive future blog posts, then there should be an ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the e-mail (I won’t be offended!)

Thanks as ever for the support and messages.


Shooting the Ball

I recently had the privilege of being booked to take the (semi)formal event photographs at the RAF Cosford Officer’s Mess Summer Ball.  This was a great evening taking photographs of the guests in front of a classic car.

At most of these events, the photos are taken indoors, with very stable and constant lighting – effectively, get set up and then you don’t have to alter your settings all night.  However – this wasn’t such an easy setup!  The location was outdoors, starting at 7pm through to 10pm.  So I started in quite bright sunshine (setting behind the guests) and ended up in pretty much pitch black night!  So, pretty challenging…  I also had to contend with the wind blowing my lights over, or making them swing around so they weren’t pointing in the right direction -  luckily a swift application of tie-wraps sorted most of the issues!

Choosing their picture.

Choosing their picture.

In order to make it really easy for the guests to choose their pictures, I was shooting tethered into my laptop, with this connected to a flat screen TV.  My original plan for tethering to the laptop was to use an Eye-Fi memory card, that sends the pictures over a Wi-Fi link.  Whilst this worked flawlessly in every test running up the event, it stubbornly refused to send any more than 2 pictures when I’d got set up.  So, I swung plan B into action – which took the form of a 5 metre USB cable!  Whilst this limited my movement slightly, it did give me a robust way of getting the pictures to where I needed them.  More testing is required with the Eye-Fi card before the next event, as when it works, it's a fantastic way to work giving much more freedom of movement.

Despite my difficulties, I adapted and overcame and most importantly I got some great pictures, and some very happy customers!  A good tally of sales on the night, and download and print sales from the website in the week that followed made it a really worthwhile event.

An Interview

I was recently contacted by one of my listing partners, and asked for a short interview, you can see the results below - I hope it give you a bit of an insight into my me and my approach to the business.  The original text can be found at the Cylex listing site:


A D Hall Photography is a small company dedicated to helping you capture memories that will last a lifetime.  Alan offers wedding photography services, along with portraits, engagement shoots, concert and event photography. We asked him a few other questions to get a better understanding on what he does.

Cylex 1. What represents you as a photographer?

A D Hall Photography: That is a very good question!  At the very basic level, I'm a husband and Dad, which I hope helps me connect with my clients as I've 'been there, done that' myself!  Helping people capture their special day or event also brings me a great deal of satisfaction. The other side of what I do, the landscapes etc, lets me explore the more artistic side of photography, which I can then fold back into the weddings and portraits.

Cylex 2. What sort of equipment do you use?  

A D Hall Photography: I currently use professional Nikon DLSR cameras, with a variety of Nikon and Sigma lenses, and Nikon Flashes. Aside from the camera equipment, I also use a portable studio setup.

Cylex 3. Do you shoot with an assistant?  

A D Hall Photography: I don't have an assistant, but as the business grows I may consider it for larger jobs.                                     

Cylex 4. Do you shoot in RAW? What about the the vintage look?

A D Hall Photography: I do shoot in RAW - I find this gives me much more detail in the images, and allows more creative freedom once the image is in the computer. It also helps to achieve whatever 'look' the clients want; there is currently a trend for the Instagram-style colours, but I can deliver whatever style the client decides upon.

Cylex 5. Do you offer albums? What’s the average cost?  

A D Hall Photography: As part of my Wedding package, I offer an A4-sized hardback photobook - I personally prefer these to the traditional wedding albums, as they look great and are actually likely to be pulled down from a shelf and looked at!  Additional books can then be ordered - depending in the number of pages, these cost around £35 - £45.  I can, through my print partners, offer the larger wedding albums, along with mini-photo books.  The range is so diverse (number of pages, finish etc) that pricing is incredibly varied.  I talk to my clients and then price up exactly what they want.

Cylex 6. Will you post the photographs online on your web pages?

A D Hall Photography: Aside from using images on my site for advertising / demonstrating my skills, I upload all the clients pictures to a password-protected gallery for them to view, or to share with friends and relatives.  The images are then available for purchase as prints or downloads directly from the site. (Wedding and portrait clients get all the images on DVD or USB stick so are free to order prints themselves.)                          

Cylex 7. What’s your favorite subject for your photography?  

A D Hall Photography: Weddings are great fun, but can also be quite hectic and stressful, so I do also enjoy the slower pace of long-exposure landscapes from time to time!

Christmas, sales integration and some new toys.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I'm sure I'm not unique in having a very busy festive period, with the usual last-minute shopping, some very excited children on the big day, a night at the panto and some new toys to play with!

But first, I've made another tweak to my website, so that clients can buy prints or full-resolution downloads of images.  This is enabled through a company called Fotomoto (www.fotomoto.com) - they're based in California, but have European print partners to keep postal costs down. I can see this will be really useful for selling prints at events, without having to worry about handling payments at the event itself.  I can easily set up a password-protected gallery and give the required details out on cards.  The clients can choose size and finish as they require and the print is then posted directly to them.  Another nice touch is the ability to send an ecard to anyone, and they get a web-quality picture with your message attached. They can then click direct-links to buy the print or download if they like it.  The Fotomoto system integrates with the Squarespace site pretty seamlessly, so overall I'm really happy.

The new toys I mentioned are a nice little pile of studio kit from my good lady - backdrop frame, lighting stands, lighting umbrellas and some continuous lights.  Continuous lights aren't ideal for event portraits, but they're excellent for pet or baby shoots as there's no flashes to make the subject jump or blink!  For the occasions that I do want to use flashes, the stands etc all still perfect.

I was also lucky enough that Santa brought me a Blackrapid Yeti camera strap.  The Blackrapid (www.blackrapid.com) system is different from the standard camera strap in that it fits over one shoulder, rather than around your neck.  This is really comfy, and keeps the camera out of the way if you're not shooting.  The Yeti adds another strap to the standard set-up, allowing 2 cameras to be carried - this is great for weddings or parties where I need to be able to quickly switch between long and short lenses.  I'm looking forward to trying it out on my next shoot!

The photo at the top of this blog post was taken outside of my in-laws' house.  I was hoping to get a long-exposure shot of Santa / International Space Station flying by, but cloud ruined that!  I then decided to try a shot of the neighbour's Christmas decorations!  I had to place my tripod in the middle of the street, but as it's a quiet cul-de-sac I felt pretty safe!

Thanks for all the support in 2014; I hope you've all had a great Christmas, and that you've got a fantastic 2015 ahead of you.

Many thanks,