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perfect-shot-in-10-seconds-4 Shooting Tips

Getting The Perfect Shot in 10 Seconds

By Pye Jirsa on February 4th 2015

Capturing Perfect Photos Without the Luxury of Time

In this article and video, we’re going to be talking about how we captured a perfect nighttime shot, with the combination of pre-lighting and preparation, just in the knick of time.

How to Capture Perfect Nighttime Wedding Photos Video


Before we pull our couple out of their wedding reception, we always keep in mind that we don’t want to keep them out for too long, because that would be incredibly rude of us to keep their guests waiting. This is why preparation is extremely important. The key word here is “Pre-Light.” You want to pre-light your scene so when you’re ready to shoot your couple, you can simply place them, pose them, and get your shot.

The Shot

For this particular wedding, right outside of the reception hall was the couples’ “seating tree” which was a small tree covered in diamond shaped ornaments that directed people where to sit. Behind the tree was a mirror which was tilted up and reflected a chandelier on the ceiling. Earlier in the evening, I saw this and I thought to myself, “This is going to look bokehlicious,” and decided to set up a shot shooting through the seating tree and placing the couple in between the tree and the mirror. You can see how I got to my final exposure settings in the video above.


The Gear I Used

For this shoot through shot, I put the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II on my Canon 5D Mark III, and I shot at 200mm because I wanted to compress the mirror in the back with the tree in front. I also placed a Phottix Mitros+ Flash about 15ft away and pointed at the seating tree to illuminate it in my image.


Once I get my exposure settings dialed in, I have my 2nd shooter stand where the couple should be so I light them with a Lowel GL-1.

The Final Shot

When I finally had everything in place, I brought my couple to the hallway. I placed them where I wanted them and fired off a test shot to make sure all my settings were perfect (which fortunately for me, they were). After I got this shot, I asked the couple to go in for a kiss, when all of a sudden, their friend came busting out of the reception hall like the Kool Aid man and yelled “IT’S YOUR SONG!”(9:45 in the video). The couple excitedly ran off to go dance leaving me standing there wondering what the heck just happened. I only had a total of 10 seconds with the couple, and in that 10 seconds, I got one shot. Due to careful preparation and pre-lighting, it ended up being an excellent shot.


More Info

I hope you enjoyed this video, if you’re interested in learning more about wedding photography, be sure to check out SLRLounge in the Bahamas! If you’re interested in learning more about Lightroom Workflow and Processing then be sure to check out the awesome workshops we have in our store. I’ll see you guys in the next video!

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Murray Severn

    Nice common sense being reinforced!

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  2. Kiel MacDonald

    Great video Pye. I love your voice and cadence, feels very warm and friendly. I also like how your behind the scenes has a lot of personality. Thanks for sharing and I will hope to incorporate some of your prelighting and thinking process to my workflow in future events.

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  3. Graham Curran

    Lots of great advice.

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  4. Angelica Criscuolo

    Great video. See you in the Bahamas! 201 class woohoo!

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  5. Albert Evangelista

    Pye, what is really neat about this article and video is that I was there to see it with my very own eyes. GOOD JOB!!! :)

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  6. Justin Haugen

    I don’t know why I expected the video to be 10 seconds long lol

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  7. James Rogen

    i tried to get a similar look by smearing vaseline on the lens on my engagement shoot. The photographer wasn’t very happy and our pictures didn’t turn out very well

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    • Steven Zay

      Sorry, but this comment was a great laugh out loud!!!

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    • Pye

      Lol, I know that used to be a old hollywood trick, but I am hoping this was a joke =) Great lol moment like Steven said. Thanks for the share! =)

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  8. Steven Zay

    Great shot… just in the nick of time! This seems oh so obvious, but in the moment the simplest things are forgotten…. Great reminder.

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  9. Jon Yoder

    Great video Pye! Do you have plans to go over your flash reception lighting? I’m quite curious. :) Also, do you like your current setup over the 600EX-RT system? I assume you’re using Pocket Wizards partly so that your Nikon shooters can share the same flashes, but that’s just a guess. :)

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    • Pye

      Hey Jon, absolutely! We are going to cover reception lighting a bit in Lighting 201. We are also working on a full wedding workshop course that covers our lighting and setups for everything! So stay tuned!

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  10. Basit Zargar

    Awesome !
    love your articles.

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  11. Riley Johnson

    I am about to shoot my first wedding professionally but I have shot a few as a secondary for friends and family. While ahooting these I have noticed that it is beneficial to show up early, take a walk around the venue, get shots of the venue and see what they have brought to the venue. You can usually find something they hold in common with each other, sentimental items, etc. These are super beneficial to add in to the photo and it helps you personalize the photos for them. So I really liked how you incorporated this and I’m glad that me doing this or picking this up along the way has been a great thing to do.

    The newest thing I learned from this is nothing too new, but a reminder that you can create diffenet levels of lighting, such as the chandelier in the mirror is lit, the couple is lit and the seating tree was lit, all at different levels. That is awesome at creating focus and depth in the image, and of course that bokelicious feel.

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  12. Brandon Dewey

    As always great video! Like you said I always try to pre light when I can.

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    • Pye

      Thanks Brandon! Yes, pre-lighting makes a world of difference! To the final quality of the image, and also the impression of the client. They just jump in, and literally in seconds you have an awesome image to show them. To them it’s just like magic! But, we know it’s just pre-lighting ;)

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  13. Michael Reinhardt

    Pye, what happens at your weddings with guest trousers? :-D

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