HE23052021

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I’m from England and was road-tripping solo around California and Arizona (a dream of mine!) with a few wedding dresses in a suitcase, setting up shoots along the way. I wanted to see some of America at the same time as having an adventure and shooting amongst the amazing landscape. I’d seen San Xavier Chapel on the internet and knew I wanted to shoot here! The location is unlike any other I’ve seen – I feel it really could be anywhere in the world! The couple I found were celebrating their one year anniversary so this was perfect for me. They were so stylish and she looked amazing in the dress and cowboy-style hat.

The light here was tricky as I wanted to shoot in golden hour but the amazing chapel blocked out the sun fairly early on in the evening. So this was shot in the shade which wasn’t what I’d hoped, for but you just have to roll with it! I learned a lot about shooting the Arizona light during my trip and during this shoot. It’s a very different light to what I’m used to in the North of England, it was a lot paler and had a totally different quality to it. So this was a major learning curve and an amazing experience too as a photographer.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

I shouted to my couple to take this shot haha! I had to stand really far away as this was the only way to get them in the right position in front of the chapel doors. I told them to hold hands, standing slightly apart from each other, and stare directly into my camera. I asked them to stand as still as possible in order for them to be in focus. If I were to do this again I might have asked them to swap sides as I think her white dress would look good highlighted in front of the shadowy side of the doorway.

What did you say?

hold hands, stand slightly apart from each other, don’t move and stare directly into my camera. OK wait there, that’s perfect, don’t move! This looks AWESOME!

How did you compose your image?

I really wanted the building to shine for this image and I think the couple in front of the building helped with conveying the scale. The couple really were in essence just props for this image, there to help give the sense of scale, but also add some context and style.

How and what did you focus on?

For this composition, I knew the couple had to be in focus which was a little tricky when recomposing to get the full building in. I used back-button focus which helped. I’d just say make sure to zoom into the image on the screen after to check their faces are in focus. Perhaps use f 2.8 or higher if you are struggling to nail focus.

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How did you use the light in your image?

The golden hour light in Arizona is really special. We don’t get many golden hours in England and experiencing shooting in this most days during my time there was amazing. Unfortunately, the sun had gone down behind the building by this point so the view I had was in shade. If I was more experienced shooting here, I would have tried to time things a bit better, shooting earlier on. I think this image would have really benefited with some amazing golden light, but I just worked with what I had!

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Camera

canon 6d

Lens

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L II

Filter

None

Other

None

Shutter Speed

1/200

Aperture

f/2

ISO

200

White Balance

Auto

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

I used Mastin Labs, fuji pushed preset, upping the shadows slightly and cooling down the image a little as this preset tends to be fairly warm. I also used the radial filter and brush to lighten the couple a little more so they stood out more, as they were are small compared to the building, I thought this was necessary. Although the building had the wow factor, I wanted to make sure the couple was equally as noticeable so bringing up the exposure on them drew the eye to them a little more.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Preset

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What challenges did you face?

The main challenge for me was avoiding the many people visiting the chapel. At the time I took this shot there was a service on inside so it was a little quieter. I then cloned a couple of people out too in lightroom. Another challenge was the quality of light lacking for this shot.

How did you solve them?

Visiting the location the day before to have a better understanding of the position of the sun in the evening and how quickly it would set.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

I would love to get this shot again because I know now how it could be improved. My timing would have been better in regards to the sun and in turn, the light. Also, I probably would have edited a little warmer. My style has changed recently and the warmer tones I think may have suited this image a little better. If you’re going for this type of shot in a location as busy as this, try going on a quieter day so the crowds don’t become a complication for you.

Don’t be scared about taking your time to make sure you nail focus, don’t rush it, just let your couple know they might be standing for a while so they know not to move. I find letting them know your “vision” for the shot is really useful so they understand what you’re trying to achieve and are comfortable and happy waiting for you to get “the shot”.

Anna Beth Photography

Shooting since

2017

Current Home

United Kingdom

Website

Instagram

I’m a lover of light, shadow and colour

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