the Shoot

Location Equipment
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Have you ever had so much fun photographing a couple that you don’t want to stop? This image was a result of that feeling. We had used up every ounce of light that night. As we were walking back to the car, I noticed the moon shinning through the last bit of sunset. I had that huge serge of excitement us photographers get and told my clients I had one last idea. This idea ended up turning into one of my favorite sets of portraits I’ve ever taken.
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Location Name

Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest

Location aDDRESS

450 W 100 N, Valparaiso, IN 46385


United States

Location TYPE

Garden / Field



Canon 5D Mark IV




Canon 35mm F/1.4 L II

Lens Filter


Other Equipment
No additional equipment was used.

the Shoot

Directions Composition Focus Light & Exposure
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Energetic Playful Dancing


I asked Hayley and Brad to walk up the hills to the top. Once they were there, I asked them to casually dance together and I instructed Hayley to make sure she really moved her dress to create extra movement in camera.

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What was said

I am LOVING the moon right now so I want to create a silhouette of you two on the top of that hill. Once you are up there, I want you two to just start dancing. Brad, twirl her a few times and Hayley, make sure to really get your dress flowing. Just have fun with it!

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Why I composed the way I did

I really wanted to give off a “dancing under the moon” vibe. To achieve that, I positioned them above myself by having them stand on a hill further in the distance. I also positioned them directly under the moon so that both elements were the center of attention. I did 1/3 of the photo being the shadow/ground and 2/3 of the photo being the sky. The purpose of this was to really show off the sunset and let the moon make a statement.

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Center Framed Lower Thirds Minimalistic Wide Full Body


Focus mode

Single point auto focus

Focus Technology

Single Shot Autofocus

Focused on

The Guy

Focus description

I used single point autofocus and positioned it on Brad because he was standing still as Hayley was twirling. I took the image through the viewfinder in order to really pay attention to my composition.

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Shutter Speed






White Balance


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

How the light was used

This shot was taken exactly 14 minutes after the official sunset time, so we had hardly any light left. We were 100% in “blue hour”. The last bit of light that was there was coming from the right.

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Soft Light Natural Light Blue Hour Evening

the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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Editing &

Editing Software used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Preset Used
How I edited this image

I used a version of a preset I had purchased years ago called LKO. The image was shot very “cool” due to being blue hour, so I warmed up the image significantly. In doing so, it brought back the pink colors of the last glimpse of sunset. I wanted the ground to be shadowed as much as possible, so I added vignetting. I did bright the orange saturation down while bringing the orange luminance up to help their skin look less orange and stand out more. Other than that, a simple exposure increase and added a little grain!

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Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

My main challenge was how little of light I had to work with. I did not want the image to turn out very grainy by upping my ISO too high.

Solutions I found

I knew I wanted them to be silhouetted, so I focused more on exposing for the sky/moon and not worrying about exposing for the couple. Being able to bring back detail in the couple’s faces was a huge bonus in editing.


Don’t be afraid to act on your impulse ideas! I almost walked away from this shoot because we had no sunlight left. Challenging yourself to shoot in less ideal situations always creates the most unique images.
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Photographed by

Cari Hughes

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