Before
the Shoot

Location Equipment
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This shot was taken towards the end of an elopement shoot in the stunning New Forest, on the south coast of the UK. It is a magical place and I love shooting there. Every time I do, I want to make sure that the forest plan a big part in the image. In this particular case, however, I did not pre visualise this image at all. It was pure chance. A happy accident. As we where walking form one location to the next, I was busy scouting ahead of my couple for the next location, when I turned around and saw them framed and backlight in wonderful light by century old trees. It inspired me to take this photograph.
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Location

Location Name

New Forest National Park

Location aDDRESS

Blackwater Arboretum, Rhinefield Ornamental Dr, Brockenhurst, SO42 7QB

Country

United Kingdom

Location TYPE

Forest

Equipment

Camera

Canon R6

Flash

None

Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L

Lens Filter

None

Other Equipment
No additional equipment was used.

During
the Shoot

Directions Composition Focus Light & Exposure
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Directions

Tags

Calm Holding Each other Natural Playful

Description

I told my couple to stand face to face a few meters apart and then asked them to walk towards one another until and hug. I could have asked them to just hold each other in the middle of the frame, but I wanted to generate a little bit of movement in the shot, especially when it came to my bride’s dress. My goal was to capture the moment before the hug, to add a little bit of tension in the frame and make it more dynamic. We did this a few times and I shot through the action and eventually picked the shot which worked best for me.

I feel it works nicely. I love the flick of the skirt adding some movement. I do wish I would have asked my groom to stand a little more straight. I find it would have made for a stronger pose.

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What was said

Walk towards one another and give each other a big hug!

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Composition

Why I composed the way I did

The image was not pre-visualised at all. It was a pure happy accident. I was under pressure as the sun was approaching the golden hour that I wanted to find the next location to shoot my couple in a more open setting to play with lens flairs and golden sunshine. I noticed the wonderful backlighting and the trees as I looked back towards my couple to tell them I found the perfect spot… which I would have totally missed if the couple where not lagging behind!

I turned around to I was immediately drawn by the way the large trees created a fame around the path and how the subject – so little in this immense forest – created a real sense of scale. I knew I wanted to create a “little people in grand landscape” shot and that I wanted it to be a silhouette given the strong backlight.

For this reason, I placed my subjects in the brightest part of the frame and made sure that the trees created a natural frame for them. I also decided to include the sun shining through the trees to add something extra to the shot and really give it that walking in the wilderness feel.

One thing to look out for when doing silhouettes, especially with tiny people in environments, is separation between limbs. It is important to make sure you can read them as people not blobs, so the spaces between become fundamental. I made my couple move and shot burst mode as they did to allow myself to get lucky and find the perfect silhouette and pose.

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Tags

Center Framed Lower Thirds Wide Natural Frames Shoot Through

Focus

Focus mode

Single point auto focus

Focus Technology

Single Shot Autofocus

Focused on

The couple

Focus description

I focused on the couple and chose an aperture which was neither too shallow nor too deep, to make sure I had sufficient depth of field to capture the silhouette of the couple and the trees too, while accommodating for movement in my couple. I back button focused on my couple, recomposed, and then shot burst mode through the moment.

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Shutter Speed

1/2000

Aperture

f/4

ISO

400

White Balance

Auto

Other Light Sources
No additional light sources were used.
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Light &
Exposure

How the light was used

I chose to shot this with the sunlight backlighting the couple because I loved the effect it gave the photograph and it allowed me to create silhouettes, which I feel always work well in these types of shots. It also allowed me to feature the sun through the trees as well as showcase the beautifully backdrop behind the couple light in golden sunlight.

Whenever I shoot silhouettes my aim is to get them right on camera and then deepen the black in post production if needed to really bring them out. This case was no exception. Instead of exposing to the couple, I instead made sure to exposed to the highlights in the scene (i.e. the brightest spot in the frame) which in this case was the grass behind the couple. In other words, I underexposed the image significantly at least two stops. By exposing this way, everything else falls into darkness, the silhouettes become stronger and no detail is lost in the brightest spot of the frame.

Decisions like these are the reason why shooting in manual mode is so important to achieve your full creative potential, because it allows you to be in full control of the decision you make and the pictures you take.

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Tags

Harsh Light Back lit Dark Natural Light Sunny Silhouette

After
the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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Editing &
Presets

Editing Software used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Preset Used

Own personal preset

How I edited this image

I do not use presets. I find them too restrictive. So instead I applied my custom tone curve, did my custom edits and applied my custom brushes to the image with the aim to deepen the blacks but retain that lovely glow in the highlight. I then exaggerated the darkness around the natural foliage at the edge of the frame with a burning brush to get rid of any distractions in the form of unnecessary highlights. In doing so, I created an effect of contrasting rings of darkness and light: a natural silhouette (trees) framing another silhouette (couple) within a buffer of highlight and colour.

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Conclusion

Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

Silhouettes can be a challenge, especially when you are working with the idea of creating tiny people in big landscapes. The biggest challenge of these is making sure you read the silhouette as people rather than blobs, and that somehow you get some form of emotion in an otherwise black shape.

Solutions I found

The way I personally deal with this challenge is by making sure I pay attention to the spaces between the limbs of the silhouette so that the silhouette shape is as crisp and readable as possible. The second thing I do is I try to inject an element of motion to achieve some form of emotion in the picture. For this reason, I rarely shoot static silhouette. Sure, I will have an idea of what composition or pose I would like to achieve, but I will always try to give my subjects a prompt that involves movement so that I can get them into that position naturally and not statically.

Advice

I personally love to shoot tiny people in large landscapes because it really creates a wonderful sense of context and a sense of place. We live in a beautiful and varied world. A big world! Shooting this type of image reminds me of how small we are when faced with the immense beauty and vastness of the natural world.

Having said this, it has become somewhat of a cliche subject these days and a very instagrammable one which everyone seems to be doing… and doing it badly.

So for this reason, the tip I would give when shooting this type of photograph is to keep shooting it – sure – but doing it with purpose by asking ourselves two guiding questions. The first is: “what is it that I am trying to show here?”. In other words, is this type of image appropriate for the scene and how can I use this type of shot as a tool to highlight something through a different viewpoint. And the second question is: “how can I shoot how it feels rather than how it looks?”. Answer these two questions and your little people in big places shots will be much more impactful to view and fun to shoot.
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Photographed by

Andrea Verenini

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