A winter wedding in Maryland

One of the venues I love coming back to is Antrim 1844 Inn in Taneytown, Maryland. This charming facility has everything in one place, creating a mix of intimate environments and wider public spaces for celebrations. The historic main house is usually where couples prepare before the ceremony and then hold cocktail hour afterward, while the receptions I've attended have been in the more modern pavillion.

As a photographer, each area has it's own special challenges.

In the main house, you've got high ceilings, which is fine, but the main rooms have brightly-painted walls of all different colors. Now, I use an assistant when I shoot and here is where having another person holding your main light really pays off. (Actually, that pays off just about all the time, but when conditions aren't ideal an assistant really becomes a necessity.)

Every bride likes to make a grand entrance, and Antrim offers a very nice space for that on the main staircase in the house. But this is not an easy area to light. In this instance I had my assistant holding up one SB-800 on a monopod extended all the way, so that I could position it where it would act, essentially, like a bare bulb.

In this way I'm able to light both the bride and the groom, and not end up having to worry about a hot spot on the blue wall that's going to reflect much light back on the bride. There was a bit more falloff toward the groom than I would have liked here, but that can be fixed pretty easily in Lightroom by a simple curves adjustment.

The main rooms of the first floor also have walls of different colors, and keeping your white balance and skin tones looking right here is a bit tricky. Whatever light source you're using, whether it's sunlight or the tungsten bulbs in the fixtures, or flash, you're going to have a problem of color reflecting back on to your subjects. Again, by using one strobe placed up high like a bare bulb, you can create your own "improved" lighting.

The Pavillion is less of a challenge to light, but on a couple of occasions when I've attended afternoon weddings there, I've run in to the problem of a hot shaft of sunlight illuminating some of the guests, and because of the layout of the main room it seems I often end up having to shoot right in to the sun. I don't like to use flash during ceremonies, because I don't want to be a distraction to any of the guests, so it can be difficult. But at this wedding I was able to take advantage of the sun for an interesting effect. For much of the ceremony I avoided shooting in to the sun, because it was so extreme compared to the lighting values in the rest of the room and I don't like to use flash during a ceremony. So in most frames I was shooting with long lens and simply letting the background blow out, or trying to use the wedding guests to block the sun so I could avoid flare. But for just a few frames I decided to shoot almost straight in to the sun, and it ended up producing a very nice effect that was a bit of a surprise.

You can see all my favorite images from this wedding here.

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