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los-angeles-wedding-photographer Tips & Tricks

How We Shot It | Wine Room Mixed Lighting

By Christopher Lin on December 10th 2012

As much as weddings are about capturing the moment as is happens, in our photography studio, our clients expect us to challenge ourselves and create something extraordinary out of ordinary scenes. This is especially true for the couples session of the wedding day. One technique/tool we have to help achieve this is the concept of mixed lighting, such as the lighting you see in the image below. Let’s go over how to create this.

Final Image


Before Image


The Lighting Set Up

– 2 ungelled pocket strobes about 5-7 feet behind the subjects at 1/2 power and off center by about 3-5 feet
– 1 tungsten video light as the main light directly on the subjects



Canon EOS 5D Mark II
15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens
Pocket Wizard II (x3)
Nikon SB80 (x2)
Tungsten Video Light


ISO 1600
15mm Fisheye Lens
Kelvin: 3500

The Execution

Video Light vs. Flash – We used a video light directly on our subjects instead of a flash for the main light to avoid killing shadows in the scene. I suppose a carefully snooted flash may have been acceptable as well but would have taken much longer to set up and test.

Gelled vs. Ungelled – We are using ungelled flashes in the back to create the blue light in the scene. You’ll see this as a common theme in our photography.

Posing and Placement – We placed the flashes far enough behind the subjects as to not cast strange shadows on the sides or front of the subjects. As for the pose, we went with a simple sitting kiss with a few standing variations that we also delivered to the client.

Lens Choice – We chose a fisheye lens to add that additional distortion around the edges to really take you out of the room and add that additional “cool” factor. A wide angle at 16mm would have been our second choice, but keep in mind that the short length of the room played a big factor here as well.


You can see more shots from this New York Wedding on our Blog. As you can see from the rest of the images, the primary focus of the wedding was the couple, their families, and the emotion of the moments throughout the day. For 90% of the day, we sit back and let it happen; we anticiapte the emotion and make sure we capture it with great composition, lighting, and creativity. But for the rest of the 10%, our clients expect us to deliver something different and unique, and playing with mixed lighting in scenes such as this wine room is one way of doing that.

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Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography, I’m based in Southern California but you can find me traveling the world. Click here to connect on Google +

Q&A Discussions

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  1. D.

    Hey Chris…thanks for the HWSI tutorial. The image is simply stunning and I’ve come to this post often just to see the image.

    Quick question (and this could be answered by anyone), why do ungelled flashes give out blue light? Or was it that the walls were blue anyways and the flashes were used just for lighting them (though it doesnt look like it in the original picture)? Any information would be appreciated!

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    • Michael Anthony

      They switched the white balance to tungsten because that is the color of their video light, thereby, switching the main white flashes to a blue color

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  2. Christophe

    Like Chris, I’m curious where the flashes were. Can’t see them in the shot. Where did you hide them?

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    • Jay

      It looks like the flash are behind the glass  blasting through the shelves to the centre of the room and the subject.

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  3. Mazhar Basa

    I couldnt understand why using video light instead of flash avoids killing shadows? 

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  4. Chris Thorn

    You don’t mention it, but one can only assume that the strobes are outside the room???

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  5. Rick Johnson

    I’m curious why you favored a slightly higher shutter speed at the expense of ISO? Wouldn’t 1/60th have cut it here with more noise-favorable sensitivity?

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    • Marc_andarda

      for more ambient light i think?

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    • Ricardo

      because of the movement. 1/100 freeze more action than 1/60, and to prevent any blur image i would do the same thing.

      full frame cameras can handling high iso better than crop sensor. even with a 1100d and noise reduction in post will work fine

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    • Brett R Hickman

      Hey Rick.. My theory is that simply decreasing the shutter speed probably wouldn’t have helped them achieve the exposure on the couple they wanted.  Instead, decreasing the shutter speed would primarily affect the ambient light, first.  So they went to 1600, I assume, to get the perfect exposure on the subjects first, then 1/100th for just the right amount of contrast in the darks/shadows/blacks. No doubt, the ISO 1600 would have powered up the aperture (2.8) ability to capture more light. Anything less than iso 1600 (like 1/60th) and their subjects likely would have been underexposed by -2/3rds of a stop. I think the settings all add up perfectly.

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    • Brett

      Whoops.. I mean anything less than iso 1600 (like 1000) would render and under exposed couple. This Is likely regardless of the shutter speed reduction.

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