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How To Shoot It

How You Shot It: Sunset Portrait ‘Beautiful Love’

By Guest Contributor on August 31st 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! For our wedding and portrait photographers, please join the SLR Lounge Wedding and Portrait Photographers group.

Today’s post is from Caleb and Evoke Weddings. A newcomer to the wedding market, Caleb only set up his wedding photography business in September 2013, but already has a high market share, due primarily to his off-camera flash work. He’s continually pushing the boundaries of his work and is constantly and obsessively chasing that elusive ‘perfect shot’. Caleb’s website can be found at www.evokeweddings.co.uk and Facebook.

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When I first picked up a DSLR around 6 years ago, I shot nothing but seascapes and family shots. Living on a small island (only 4 by 6 miles) we’re spoiled by a huge array of coastline, from beautiful sandy beaches to jaw-dropping cliffs – Guernsey really does have it all. So, when I became a wedding photographer, I wanted to ensure that I combined my love for dramatic seascapes, by simply dropping a beautiful couple into the scene.

I wanted to create images that worked just as well with either element removed – a stunning seascape or a beautiful portrait.

The Challenge

However, it quickly became apparent that it really wasn’t that simple.

Welcome the age-old problem of whether you expose for the foreground or the background. If you want a dramatic seascape, then I personally always expose for the background so I can preserve any clouds and retain as much of the sunset as possible.

Though when you take a shot directly towards the most powerful light source on planet Earth you unfortunately get a little bit of shadow on anything in the foreground. Well, OK. A LOT of shadow.

Here’s an example below, using the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset HDR Heavy – Skin Desat, it’s still a good shot but lacks impact – the couple just don’t pop like I want them to – after all they are the focus of this shot.

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Therefore, our challenge is to light our subject as best we can, under the circumstances that we’re shooting in, to ensure that the subject is perfectly as exposed as the background.

Due to the distances often involved in portrait landscapes, this can only be achieved using off camera lighting.

How You Shot It 

This shot was taken on an engagement shoot. I like to keep a fast pace on engagement shoots, as I want the experience to be fun, active and relatively painless for the couple – as ultimately, they are paying for the experience. If I create a shot that they absolutely love, I want them to share it with their friends and tell them that it was enjoyable capturing the shot.

To ensure a fast pace an engagement shoot is nothing like working with models and taking time to create the perfect shot, it’s about working on your feet and adapting to the situation.

On this occasion the couple followed me on to an outcrop of rocks that had just become exposed from the falling tide. However, the rocks were flat and I didn’t have time to start setting up a Light stand as the couple were getting cold, due to a stiff breeze. Therefore, I had to improvise and make the best of the moment, especially as the sun was getting towards that perfect point, the point where is just preparing to dip over the horizon. 

I took my flashgun and I placed in on the rocks in front of them, I then tilted the head towards them with the standard build-in diffuser on to try to soften the light slightly. I knew that by having the flash below them it was going to create some shadows, but a shot with shadows is better than no shot at all.

I ran and jumped over the rocks and gullies until I was back in my shooting position, about 30m away. I took a couple of test shots before bouncing back towards them to make some slight adjustments to the angle of the flash head.

When I returned to my shooting position I was happy with everything and pumped out some frames.

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I use wireless triggers that include the ability to change the power output remotely. This saved considerable time without needing me to bounce back and forth between the couple and my shooting position.

Within a few minutes, I got enough shots and we were able to finish the shoot and allow them to leave for the warmth of their car.

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Post Processing

Presets used (SLR Lounge Presets V5)
31a. Light Crush – Colour
25c Dark Wash – Crimson
13b – HDR Boost – Medium
36 – Contrast Boost – Light
71e – Vignette Medium

Generic LR Graduated Filter to bring out the cloud detail with -0.25 exposure.

Crop to 16:9

Gear

Canon 5D Mark III handheld, Canon EF 24-70mm L F4 at 24mm and F4, ISO100 1/200 sec & Godox V850 flashgun with Godox FT-16S wireless remote and trigger

Final Image

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Conclusion

I’m pretty happy with the shot and the couple loved it. It captured the beautiful island they live in while showing the connection they have. The shot included subtle touches that were personal to them e.g. she was wearing the same dress when he originally proposed.

For the perfect shot, I will look for a very portable Light stand that I can keep attached to my bag at all times. I will also dream for one of those rare days when the clouds go red!

Next, I’ll be pushing the barriers of this type of shot further – watch this space….

About the “How to Shoot It” Series

This educational series highlights amazing images from our writers as well as our community. The goal is to not only feature inspirational work but to provide valuable education for our photography community. If you would like to submit your work, please click here for more info on writing for SLR Lounge.

If you’re interested in becoming a guest contributor, contact us!

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    These photos are the ones that sell to clients.

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  2. Basit Zargar

    Such a cool photo

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  3. Mike Kropf

    Am I the only one who prefers the sharpness of the photo before post processing?

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  4. Wendell Fernandes

    nice nice photo.

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  5. mugur ic

    i like the background. the natural light. this is a nice photo

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  6. Paul Redmond

    It’s very beautiful and i love it :) Well done mate :)

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  7. Mark Iuzzolino

    Great shot and fantastic quick thinking and timing.

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