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Shooting Tips

Beach Silhouette Wedding Portrait – How We Shot It

By Matthew Saville on April 14th 2013

Here is an example of when to just let shadows do what they do best: be dark and moody!  With all the excitement about HDR photography these days, and the incredible dynamic range that cameras have now, often times we can get caught up in the pursuit of achieving perfectly exposed details in every corner of our images.  I don’t know about you, but I find it ironic that nowadays people might consider it “thinking outside the box” to capture a good old-fashioned silhouette!

The Photo

beach-silhouette-wedding-portrait-650b(Click here for a larger image!)

The Euquipment and Settings

The Shooting Conditions

Orange County rarely gives you sunsets such as this one.  And when such a striking scene does present itself, often times I go nuts with HDR techniques, or wireless flashes, etc.  This image was taken during a photo shoot with a group of other local photographers, and many were using off-camera flash, on-camera flash, …pretty much every base was covered, I bet.  Yet I really wanted to create a unique image, so what should I do?

Go for broke, I thought; just kill your flash and crank your shutter speed.  This moment is not meant to be captured as a “smiling at the camera” image, with properly exposed faces and whatnot.  The most impact, I felt, would come from letting the colors and contrast do all the talking.

Obviously this is just one vision of many, and I’m sure there are a dozen other ways you could approach this scene.  Here is a photo of the crowd I was shooting with, and another image taken just minutes apart from this one with a whole different “mood”…

beach-silhouette-wedding-portrait-650d

beach-silhouette-wedding-portrait-650c

The Post Processing

Editing this image was tricky, because it was so tempting to over-edit!  With simple images like this, where color and contrast are “doing all the talking”, you’re better off if those are the only 2-3 settings you adjust.  Maybe warm up the white balance a touch, and go up a few clicks on the contrast and vibrance.  You can play with the shadows / blacks a little bit if you want to, but don’t over-think these setting, and (in my opinion) keep the final result dark and moody.

Take care, and thanks for reading!

=Matthew Saville=

About The “Photo of the Day” Series

If you’ll notice, the SLR Lounge “Photo of the Day” articles are posted in the Photography / Shooting section of our website, not the Inspiration section.  This is on purpose, because these images are simply meant to be a daily dose of “here’s how we shot a random cool photo!”  …and not so much as “wow here’s the most incredible photo we’ve seen in 24 hours, it will blow your mind!”  We wanted to escape from the typical inspirational photo type posts a little bit, because they are often lacking in helpful background information about the equipment used, camera settings, and details of the shooting conditions or the photographer’s thoughts.  Hopefully you find these posts to be helpful insights into how you might approach a certain situation or style of shooting!

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

2 Comments

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  1. Andre Goulet

    Trey, while I agree with you in concept, one of my lowest ranked photos amongst professionals is also my highest selling print to date. Just something to keep in mind.

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  2. Trey Villarreal

    Composition layouts like the sunset silhouette truly are being phased out. What with the spreading talk that you need the newest, fastest speedlite/light setup or the most perfectly exposed picture, it’s taking the route as being the photographic standard. The irony being that within creative photography, is that there are no rules. While that may not entirely be the case in professional photography, people are inclined to think that if you want to be good, you need to follow standards.

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