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Leo Hoang Photography Tips & Tricks

How We Shot It – Sunset Shot with a Bridesmaid Light Stand

By Leo Hoang on September 26th 2012

Leo Hoang Photography
Whoever has shot a Wedding as the primary Photographer, will understand how fast and chaotic it can be. So it can be a struggle at times to think about something creative when you have very few minutes to produce something for them.
Fortunately, I already had this sunset shot planned for the Bride & Groom, and I even looked up on the internet what time the sun would be setting to schedule this shot. But as with all Weddings, nothing really goes according to schedule.
The sun started dropping earlier than expected and I guess I didn’t account for the height of the trees.

How I Shot It

I barely had enough time to round up the Bride & Groom, let alone setup the light stands etc. so I enlisted the help of one of the Bridesmaids.
I whipped out my Tripod and whilst setting that up, I directed the couple so that the sunset would be behind them. As most of you probably know, cameras do struggle with Dynamic Range and the immense light from the sun would have the couple underexposed which in turn, would make them silhouettes. I wanted to illuminate the couple with off-camera flash, so I asked the Bridesmaid to stand next to them, and point a bare flash down on their faces and set the Nikon CLS Trigger to TTL.
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Once I attained the shot of the couple illuminated, I then re-took that shot with the flash off, and with the Bridesmaid out of shot.

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How I Edited It

During the post-processing stage, I exported the untouched RAW files into TIFF files.
I laid the shot of them as silhouettes as the base layer, and had another layer on top with the shot of them illuminated and then simply erased the Bridesmaid with the Eraser Tool in Photoshop, and hey presto, it looks as if she was never there!
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I then saved this file as a TIFF and re-imported into Lightroom 4, at which point I did make use of the SLR Lounge’s Lightroom 4 Preset System to give it that Vintage vibe. I wanted it to have a really dark sunset vibe when the sun is at its goldest, so I then went up on the white balance temperature quite a bit.
Finally I went for a crop. Not because I miss composed the shot or anything, but I wanted the image to fit perfectly on a 16:9 screen, which is the standard wide screen ratio.

Click here to view more images from this Wedding.

Basic Info:

1) Camera: Nikon D800
2) Lens: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8>
3) Flash: Nikon SB-900

Main Site: Leo Hoang Photography
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Leo Hoang is a professional photographer based in London who shoots Weddings, Events and Real-Estate.

Q&A Discussions

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  2. Ed Rhodes

    awesome idea!

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  3. Peter

    The shot of the couple on the bench in front of the church… Is that all DOF? Or did you use some blurring, etc in post?

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    • Sergiu Bacioiu


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    • Leo Hoang

      Hi Peter… I used the Brenizer Method for that shot… I have an article on here explaining what it is, but I’ll be writing one soon explaining how to do it… I might even do a video on it if I can get someone to help out with the recording… In the meantime, if you search Brenizer Method by Ryan Brenizer, you’ll see some awesome examples and there are other Tutorials available… 

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  4. Georgette Aronow

    very cool!

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  5. Jenniferbatesphoto

    Awesome – thank you for sharing!

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  6. Jared Campbell

    no prob..great sure the client was thrilled

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  7. Ronnie

    This is superb

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  8. Chasstaf

    Nicely done.

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  9. Jared Campbell

    or you could have just shot the couple once…with the assistant holding the light..let everyone move..shot it again with the background exposure that you wanted and painted them in with a mask.. so they didnt have to stand there..and used photoshop’s add files to stacks..automatically line up images…just saying

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    • Leo Hoang

      I didn’t want to ask the Bride and Groom to move too much, as after this shot, I went in closer for a couple more but without the flash… Thanks for the tip though… — Leo

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