• Blue Hour
  • Moody
  • Walking
  • Still
  • Stars
  • Rocks
  • photoshop
  • night sky
  • night
  • Natural Light
  • Movement
  • Motion Blur
  • Him behind her
  • Blur
  • heavy editing
  • groom behind bride
  • full body
  • eyes closed
  • Evening
  • double exposure
  • Desert
  • clear sky
  • Center Framed
  • calm
  • Wide

The story behind the image

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Years ago I tried a similar image with a wedding party, but I didn’t TRY very hard to make it as cool, or as fun as this one. Then last fall I photographed a wedding (ironically that bride is friends with the bride in the photo we’re talking about, but their weddings were on opposite coasts) and for one of the wedding party shots I decided to try out my old trick – but make it a composite so that it was a bit clearer where it needed to be, and a bit more spooky.

It worked. That wedding party had nine or so people in it, so it was easier to do than the one I did at the elopement.

This couple got married in Joshua Tree National Park around a month after the other wedding. We were doing their portraits and waiting for the sun to get lower so that we could do star photos and I decided that I wanted to try the “ghost” photo as I call it, but only with the couple. I knew going into this that it was going to be quite a bit of photoshop work to get right.

Originally, I wanted to have multiple “ghosts” in the image but after playing with it in photoshop discovered that it looked the best with just one set. Shots like this one always strengthen my ability to make my ideas a reality. They also help with my PS skills. I’ve never relied heavily on retouching or PS so it’s nice to be able to use my creative shots as a way to get in more practice.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

As I said, the bride knew the bride from the wedding party shot I had done like a month prior to this. So she had seen that photo. I told them what I wanted to do and they were willing to try it out. I always try to let my couples know that shots like this may not work out in the end, but if it does it will definitely be worth the effort.

First, I had them stand still for the middle/clear image. We also tried to stick to that same area and keep track of where they were standing so that the PS was a bit easier for me to do.

Second, I had them chase and zoom around in a giant circle around where they had been standing. While taking those photos I used a slow shutter to get the blur.

It all worked really well. They had fun running around and letting off some energy, and I actually like all of the photos from that as stand alone images.

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What did you say?

“Maddie stand here and try to keep your face/hands relaxed. Gatlin, stand right behind her but to the side a little. Thumbs in pockets.”

“Start chasing each other in a circle that gets bigger and bigger. Have fun with it!”

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Tone of Directions



I really like centered images. They’re balanced and always look good in slideshows or social media. I don’t necessarily believe that there’s anything special about this composition. It’s just a centered, pulled back shot. If I was doing this over I probably would have swapped the ghost images to make it a little more balanced instead of making a triangle with them.

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Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I have always used a single center focus point. It’s just always been easier for me to be able to focus and then readjust for composition if needed, instead of relying on multiple focus points to hopefully focus on what I need. For the centered part of the image I obviously wanted both of them to be in focus. For the ghost images it didn’t necessarily matter. I was using a slow shutter so wasn’t trying to have any part of those be in focus.

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Focus Mode

Single Shot Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

The Bride

Equipment &

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II
1/200 & 1/15 @ f/1.4 & 5.0 ISO800 & 320 WB-Auto

The way the EXIF is written out follows the common photographic method (with the inclusion of White Balance at the end). Here it is broken down:

Shutter Speed @ Aperture ISO White Balance.

Light & Weather

It was nearly twilight. The sun was almost completely below the horizon a bit behind and to their right. I love shooting in that type of light and I feel like that made the photo even better than it would have been had it been bright out. I wanted the image to be cool and a little spooky so the light worked out great.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day

Blue Hour

Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

I use my own presets to edit. I normally use a preset named Diana from my Moon pack. If you have those presets or look at my other work you’ll know that this preset was HEAVILY modified for this particular photo. The original image is pretty bright but the sun was almost below the horizon by the time we started on this. It definitely was not that bright out at the time.

I mainly wanted to create a cooler toned image for this. I wanted it to look more like twilight out in the final image so I had to adjust a lot for the colors to make it look decent. I also pulled gradients down to darken the sky + added stars to the top from a star shot I took around 30 minutes after his.

After images are exported and completed I do add a finisher preset to them in Alien Skin Exposure as well (which I don’t sell).

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Editing Software
Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom
Preset Used


I don’t really think I faced any challenges with this photo. I knew what I wanted and executed it nearly perfectly.

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Fortunately, there wasn’t much I needed to do. Having this idea in mind and with enough practice before hand, I was able to pull it off without any trouble.

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Location Name

Joshua Tree National Park

Location aDDRESS

Joshua Tree National Park

Loation Type



United States

I would do nothing different when it comes to this photo. I love the way it turned out and it’s almost exactly what I envisioned. Any time I do creative shots I just want to be able to have fun with it, and that’s the advice I would give to others. Just have fun making art and if it doesn’t work out – try again at a different shoot.

I definitely have other variations of this photo I want to do in the future.

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