WEDDING SEASON SALE! 30% Off Training Systems!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Tips & Tricks

How You Shot It: Musical Memories ~ Shooting Portraits During the ‘Golden Hour’

By Hanssie on March 5th 2014

How You Shot It is a series where you show us how you shot an image. Many who use our presets love to share their special processing recipes. You can join the SLR Lounge Textures and Presets group on Facebook and share your favorite images and recipes as well!

Today’s post is from Ryan Williams from RWill Design & Photography in San Diego.


Gear and Technical Specs:

Canon 7D
Canon 24-105mm f/4L Lens

ISO 200
No flash
Aperture Priority

Claudia (the model) and I setup a trade shoot at a nice park in the panhandle of Florida called Big Lagoon State Park.  Based on previous conversations with the model, I had an idea of the type of look and feel I wanted to give the series of photos.  I purposely choose the park because there are usually not that many people there and I felt it would be the right back drop for our session.


I had my Canon 85mm f/1.2 prime on my Canon 5D Mark III (I love shooting portraits with that setup), and I put my Canon 24-105mm f/4L on my Canon 7D so I had some room to try some different compositions on my shoot.  I also put one of my 580ex flash units on my 7D in case I needed some fill flash as it started to get darker.

The Shot:

Typically, I like to shoot right before and into golden hour when I’m doing natural light outdoors.  I had my flash unit on my camera ready to roll, in case I needed to add fill light I mentioned earlier.  Which brings me to the first part of the shot, the exposure.  You’ll notice that the before shot is about a stop under-exposed.


I was playing around with fill flash, but I could not get the light to look the way I wanted.  So, I decided to hold the flash for a few shots, instead opting to shoot as wide open as I could.  Since the sun sets pretty fast, I like to switch to AP with the rapidly changing light conditions right before dusk.

In terms of composition, I played around with different focal lengths all throughout the shoot.  I like to make sure I give some variation to the shots and shifting the focal length is an easy way to do that!

The Pose:

The guitar was Claudia’s idea.  She wanted a musical inspired shoot and brought it as a prop.  After she got comfortable and we started moving around getting different shots, I suggested she try some “out of the box” poses/looks.  She did a great job, and pulled this one out effortlessly!


After getting home and dropping the RAW images into Lightroom, I was already excited!  Even though I made a few small mistakes, a good portion of the photos only had minor touch-ups required!  Once photos are imported into LR, I have it setup to the default “Portrait Flatten.”

Knowing that I had shot this particular photo a little on the dark side, I knew I’d have to brighten it up.  I decided to start with the face as I wanted to really make Claudia’s look pop.  I used a small brush, and adjusted the exposure to taste.  Next I wanted to lighten and enhance some of the details of the image but not make it over the top.

After trying a few different of the SLR Lounge Presets, I liked the balanced result that “SP HDR Light” gave me.  The next step was to give the model’s skin a nice soft touch with “Heavy Soften (Skin).”  With the image almost complete, I felt like it could really use something to tie it to the theme/feel of the shoot.  I opted for “Ivory Neutral Wash” and it put that perfect, golden memory feel finishing touch on the image.

The Final Image


All in all, I love the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset system.  It saves me some much time in post and I love the versatility of it all.

Check out Ryan’s work on his Facebook page and Claudia’s work on her page.

CREDITS: All photographs by Ryan Williams are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.


This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Rafael Steffen

    This is a great article because it teaches you the post processing that made the picture have that result. Thanks love it!

    | |
  2. shamb

    Good work!

    For those wanting to play around with the ambient light, a Tiffen low contrast filter works wonders when pointing into the sun. It lifts the darks in the shadow as well as giving the lights a more film-like rolloff (and therefore reduces the need to underexpose).

    It doesn’t add extra detail in the shadows per se, but as luma encoding is a non-linear scale in most cameras (there are more bits assigned to the highlights than the blacks to emulate the sensitivity of our eyes, which can’t see into shadow), you end up with more bits assigned to the now lighter shadows, given you more headroom to alter the shadows further in post without causing banding.

    In any case, the Tiffen may have reduced the post processing required to get the final look, because that look is what the low contrast filter tends to do.

    | |