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This beautiful couple wanted an epic Yosemite elopement and wanted their portrait session as husband and wife with the infamous half dome in the background. I knew the perfect location that would provide the best backdrop the national park could offer with an epic sunrise. To get to this location and make it in time to witness the sunrise we left the hotel at 3 am.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

The preceding moments that led up to this image consisted of my groom helping his bride up the rock and then having the couple snuggle. They were a naturally affectionate couple and posing them was very easy. I told the couple to look out towards the valley and enjoy the sunrise for a couple of minutes while holding hands. I truly wanted them to remember this moment for the rest of their lives since sunrise in Yosemite is absolutely magical.

What did you say?

Guys, look out towards the valley and enjoy the sunrise for a few moments together, and hold hands. Really take in this moment together as a couple and forget all about me shooting here

How did you compose your image?

I’m a fan of center composition but also wanted to include half dome in the background so I simply placed them in the center of my frame. I also used the tree on the right and the log on the left to frame the couple.

How and what did you focus on?

Since the sun was shining directly into the camera, I took multiple images to make sure I captured the image in focus. I also shielded my lens with my hand to limit the amount of light so the camera could catch focus with back button focus. I then removed my hand and press the shutter button. I also combat this issue by having my camera in live view.


How did you use the light in your image?

I’m a big fan of lens flares and especially the flare that the canon 50mm 1.2L produces. To achieve this effect I opened up my aperture almost as wide as it could go and placed my couple where the sunrise and the cliff meet. As the light hits the lens, it causes it to flare which looks so beautiful. It cane be tricky though as it does interfere with the focusing slightly.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon 5D Mark IV


Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L





Shutter Speed






White Balance


How did you edit your image & what did you use?

I initially used Gabe McClintock’s roam preset, I lifted the exposure a tad and then added warmth to the image. Since this image looked great even with just applying the preset, I didn’t need to dig in with any local adjustments. The only adjustments I really touched was the white balance (to bring more warmth) as well as a few exposure and contrast sliders to give it that pop that I was after.

Software Used

Adobe Photoshop / Camera Raw

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What challenges did you face?

Obtaining focus while backlighting can be a challenge with the Canon 5D mark IV.

How did you solve them?

I used my hand simply to block the amount of light coming into my lens with my hand and once I caught focus I removed my hand and pressed the shutter.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

Going the extra mile for a photoshoot can really make your images stand out. As artists, the extra effort of finding the best location can have a great impact on your creativity and inspiration so if that requires hours of driving or getting out of bed before dawn just go with it.

Brittany West Photography

Shooting since


Current Home

United States of America



Hello fellow creatives! I’m an elopement and destination wedding photographer that lives to tell the story of a couple’s indescribable connection. Capturing these beautiful moments has lead me to some extraordinary locations and allowed me to develop a deep appreciation for each of my couple’s unique love stories.

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