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Wedding Reception Shutter Drag {How You Shot It}

By Guest Contributor on January 6th 2015

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 Easton Reynolds. Easton and his wife Laura are international wedding photographers from New Jersey. You can see more of their work at Lurey Photography

Shutter Drag Portrait -1

Thought Process

One of my favorite things to do on the dance floor at a wedding reception is to drag my shutter. You can see my blog post on how to utilize shutter drag for the dance floor here. It always makes for some pretty cool images.  When this couple requested a night shot, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. As you can see in the image below, there were a bunch of trees with Christmas lights on them along the path.

I had a thought that maybe I could place the couple off to the right where there wouldn’t be any lights behind them. This would allow me to drag my shutter and hopefully not have any lights covering my couple. I knew I would need to freeze the couple with my flash while dragging my shutter. At the same time, I would need to slightly move the camera to create the orange lines across the image.



I positioned the couple in the right side of my frame with no lights behind them.  I then set up my Yongnuo 560 III with a MagMod grid and placed it on my Cheetah Stand to camera left about 30 degrees.  I used a grid so the light from the flash wouldn’t spill all over the place. 


The hard part was moving the camera ever so slightly from left to right to create the blurred lines without having it spill on the couple.  After about 7-10 shots I came up with the below image.


This is basically SOOC with a little exposure bump. I then cropped a bit and edited the image in LR. I edit all of my images with a preset that I developed to fit my style. The formula is as follows:

  • Contrast +23
  • Highlights -85
  • Shadows +90
  • Blacks -90
  • Clarity +10
  • Vibrance +15
  • Sharpness +70
  • Noise Reduction +60

This is my starting point for every image. I normally have to raise the exposure by 1.5 stops to compensate for the above settings. From here I de-saturate  skin a bit to re-normalize it. The result is pictured below.


From here I brought the image into PS and cloned some of the orange lines to fill in around the couple. And that’s it!

Shutter Drag Portrait -1

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Terms: #Shutter Drag

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kim Neff

    Did you back focus on the subject first before you dragged from left to right?

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  2. Maykell Araica

    So guys, I love this but I do have a bit of a technical question.
    I have a Canon 6D and I use the YN-622C to trigger my 430 EX II.
    I would love to try something like this.
    Do you use rear curtain flash for this?
    If so, do any of you guys know if you can do rear curtain flash with the set up I have? when I go to my external flash option, I don’t show the Rear Curtain Flash option when using OCF.

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    • Easton Reynolds

      Hey Maykell, I didn’t use rear sync here. It really depends on what you are trying to achieve. I’m not a Canon guy so I’m not sure if your setup can do rear sync.

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  3. Basit Zargar

    Awesome technique

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  4. Rafael Steffen

    Great quality post here! I am really loving this site each day!

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  5. Cy Sawyer

    Wonderful shot and use of shutter drag. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Anton Shelepov

    Very imaginative! Congratulations on a successful capture.

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  7. Rafael Steffen

    This is a great example of an article that you can get some great images with little equipment! Congratulations! I loved it!

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  8. Stefan Czajkowski

    Nice shot and technique! When I saw the image at first, I thought, no PS was necessary, so it doesn’t look photoshoped.

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  9. Eric Sharpe

    Nice shot!

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  10. David Hill

    Thanks for sharing. Are you using rear sync for the flash? Best wishes. Dave

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    • easton reynolds

      I am not using rear sync here. I know some people like to do so but I never really see the need for it.

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  11. easton reynolds

    Thx for the great feedback everyone! Glad I could help!

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  12. Christopher Fuller

    Thanks for taken us through your process.

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  13. Tanner Zachem

    great article

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  14. Kim Farrelly

    Nice, time to practice

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  15. David Hall

    Great image. Thanks for sharing your technique.

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  16. Kevin Sutton

    Thanks for sharing your shot and how you did it!

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  17. Fabio Porta

    Wonderful shot and technique!

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