Dramatic Wedding Bridal Gown Photo – How We Shot It

How We Shot It April 29th 2014 1:04 PM 11 Comments

The Photo

01bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash(Click here to view a larger version!)

The Equipment and Settings

How We Shot It

I wanted to “go for broke” with this bridal gown / wedding dress photo, because the venue was really beautiful, and the dress was of course beautiful too!  I started off thinking that maybe I should create an HDR, like the one I did two seasons ago during our Nikon D600 review which you can check out here.   However after bracketing a few images, I realized that the dress just wouldn’t be easy to “emphasize” in such a dramatic scene unless I used flash.  So I picked a single exposure, a relatively dark one, and started adding wireless flashes.

One thing led to another, and before I knew it I had gotten out my entire set of four wireless flashes.  I put three of them around the inside of the cottage for various illumination in there, some of them “zoomed in” to shine on specific things, and some of them “zoomed out” for general light filling.  (Hotshoe flashes almost all have a zoom head function that allows you to narrow or widen the beam of light, a very handy feature!) Lastly of course, there was one single flash outside, to shine on the dress.

The three flashes inside had CTO (warm) gels on them, the one outside did not.

To demonstrate the process of how the lighting was created for this scene, I thought it would be easiest to just create a GIF so that you can see my thought process on how I lit the image.

wireless-flash-lighting

The scene starts with no flash, and then you can watch as I adjust the brightness of the wireless flashes, add flashes, move them around, and then finally add a snoot to the main flash so that the light outside takes a more “spotlight” appearance on the dress.

The final scene looked like this on the back of my camera:

05bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash

…And it looked like this in Lightroom without any processing:

02bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash

(As you know, I like to tweak my in-camera settings so that the images have a little extra pop!  Click here to learn more about how in-camera settings can aide or hinder your creative pursuits...)

Now, this image plus eight others captured from my tripod, are ready to post-produce! (When creating a panorama, I like to overlap my images by quite a lot, as you can see.)

11-bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash

The Post-Processing

I tried a couple different variations on this scene, from the “over-the-top” faux HDR look, to a more subtle, natural look.  To me, they all look pretty cool, so I thought I’d share them with you.  In fact I feel that even the single, center frames look just as cool as the panoramic composition, so I’ll share them both!

04bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash12-bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash

The above images were made using the SLR Lounge Preset “Base – Vivid / HDR Max – Color” in case you’re wondering.  I literally just clicked the one preset in Lightroom, and then merged the 9 total images into a panorama.  Done.

In the end, I settled on a more subtle look that was more similar to what I saw in-camera:

03bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash

This image was made using the “Base – Vivid / Light Crush – Color” preset, with some slight boosting to the shadows, blacks, and contrast.  The stitched panorama originally looked like this when created using the “Spherical” panorama option:

07bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash

Whoa there!  Time to start playing with my favorite panorama tool, the warp tool:

08bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash

Using the warp tool, I carefully worked the edges of the image around so that the scene would look less fish-eye, and more like it was taken with a normal, aspherical ultra-wide lens.

10bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash

Always do your final cropping back in Lightroom, of course.  There’s no reason to throw away pixels in Photoshop!  I picked a 1:2 aspect ratio because it is a common print size, and I made sure to re-center the dress.

Once back in Lightroom, I also performed a final boost to the shadows and contrast, as well as a faint radial vignette preset.

01bridal-gown-photo-hdr-pano-wireless-flash

There you have it folks!  Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions!

Take care, and happy clicking,
=Matthew Saville=

 Learn HDR Photography

For more HDR education, be sure to check out HDR Tutorial by SLR Lounge. This comprehensive “gold standard” guide will give you a mastery of HDR photography, from the scene considerations to the actual shooting to the post production. Click here for more info.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Lightroom 5 is, in our opinion, by far the most powerful workflow tool for any photographer especially wedding and portrait photographers who need to achieve perfect color correction at a rapid-fire pace.  Become a Lightroom Master using our complete Lightroom Workshop Collection for Lightroom 5!  This DVD workshop includes extensive tutorials for everything from organization & workflow to image processing and our awesome preset system.

The SLR Lounge Preset System

The SLR Lounge Preset System is designed to enable Lightroom users to achieve virtually any look and effect in 3-5 clicks. Including basic color correction, vintage fades, black & white effects, tilt-shift effects, faux HDR, retouching, detail enhancing, and so much more, the sky is the limit with what has been dubbed the most powerful and intuitive preset system available! Click the link above to learn more/purchase. The SLR Lounge Preset System is now available for both Lightroom 5, Lightroom 4, and Adobe Camera Raw. (Bridge CS6 and CC only, click for more info.)

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About

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge. Connect with him on Google Plus

11 Comments

  1. alex

    reasons why when i see an article from mathew its an instant click now to read! great job

  2. John

    This is epic! I’m bookmarking this. Brilliant photography.

  3. Rick

    Beautiful! Lighting is superb.

  4. Fabio

    Excellent shot Matthew!

  5. Matthew Saville

    LOL I just noticed that the final file was 55 megapixels. Yikes! No wonder it took forever to save in Photoshop…

    Thanks for commenting, everybody!

    =Matt=

  6. Ravi

    Excellent work, Matthew.

    However, I don’t understand why you used the Spherical panorama option. I’m asking this having never done a panorama stitching thus far.

    Thank you.

    -Ravi

    • Matthew Saville

      Ravi,

      To be quite honest, I just try them all and see whichever works best. Sometimes it is NOT the spherical option, but this time it worked okay.

      Unless you are implying that by forcing it to use some other option, I might have been able to avoid all the warping I had to do afterwards? Good point, however in my experience this is not the case.

  7. Greg Faulkner

    Awesome Matty, absolutely love the stuff you shot for Lin & Jirsa

    • Greg Faulkner

      *You’ve not you.

      There’s no edit function?

    • Greg Faulkner

      Thinking about it I’d love to hear the Bride and Grooms reaction when they saw this photo!

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