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I met this couple (Victoria + Roberto) out at the White Sands in New Mexico, USA. Upon arriving, I was in awe at the rolling dunes of white gypsum sand that laid out before us. I thought to myself “how cool is this world? Always amazing me with its beauty!”.

I’ve traveled to many cool places but this was one of those “I want this to last forever” moments. The last time I felt this way was on my 2018 trip to Iceland. While in Iceland, I saw the Aurora Borealis dance in the sky for the very first time. A feeling I never wanted to end. And a feeling I’ve been craving ever since.

I never thought I would feel that way about any other location but as soon as the feeling presented itself again, I wanted to savor every part of it. The sun started to slip behind the mountains and the sky lit up pink. We were losing light fast but I asked Roberto + Victoria to dance. As they had a moment, this gave me time to adjust my settings. The settings for the image was: 1/160 f1.4 ISO 2000

I am happy with my camera settings given the circumstance I was in (losing light). My shutter speed was as low as my shaky hands could tolerate 1/160, my aperture was wide open at 1.4 and my ISO was uncomfortably high enough at 2000.

When I got home, I was so excited to edit! But this was the most challenging part. The original photo was underexposed, grainy, and had dark shadows, but I expected that!

I first edited the photo in Lightroom. I did edit the photo fairly quickly because I was excited to post it so if I could go back and change anything… it would be to take a little more time editing to get it perfect. After editing in Lightroom, I moved the photo over to photoshop where I added the Aurora Borealis!

The best part of our art as a photographer is being inspired and presenting your inspirations through your work. This photo means so much to me because I took two moments that I Never Wanted to End and stamped them together. Now I can look back at this photo forever and the moment never has to end!

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

I wanted the couple to have a moment to themselves so I asked them to dance. Roberto twirled Victoria and then ended by picking her up for a kiss.

What did you say?

Twirl her around and dance for a minute!

How did you compose your image?

I really like my images to be straight and centered. I do break the rules sometimes, but it felt right for this image. I had them center framed as I wanted the attention to go straight to the couple. Since the desert didn’t offer too many other elements, this just meant that it only added more emphasis to the couple. Sometimes playing it safe is the way to go.

How and what did you focus on?

I shoot in manual for my settings but my focus is always on auto! I pinpointed the focus on my subject. The focus was a little hard since we were losing light but I made sure to go slow and take my time. Giving my camera enough time to focus.

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How did you use the light in your image?

The sun started to slip behind the mountains and the sky lit up pink. We were losing the light fast and it was getting harder and harder to capture the moment. The sun was behind a mountain off in the distance to our right. I wish I could have positioned them to the left a bit more so the remaining light glow would illuminate them better, but there was a giant dune drop off to our left. It was more aesthetically pleasing to shoot the direction of the photo.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Camera

Nikon Z6 II

Lens

Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4

Filter

None

Other

None

Shutter Speed

1/160

Aperture

f/1.4

ISO

2000

White Balance

Auto

Jenna Stevens Photography, White Sands, New Mexico, USA, Aurora Borealis

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

I first edited the photo in Lightroom. I used brush tools to help brighten the subject. I adjusted the shadows and highlights in this tool and brushed them where needed. I then adjusted my settings for the overall image as normal. After editing in Lightroom, I moved the photo to Photoshop to add the Aurora Borealis overlay.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Preset

Personal Presets

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What challenges did you face?

The biggest challenges were the low light and editing!

How did you solve them?

I was able to put the photo into Lightroom and use a mixture of brushes and settings to get it to my liking. I then processed the photo in photoshop for “final touches” of the Aurora Borealis!

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

I used to be afraid of low light. But for what?! I will never pass up a beautiful moment just because of a little grain from high ISO. My biggest advice to you is to capture the moments anyway. Take your time with it. Get your settings right and don’t be afraid to play around in post process.

Jenna Stevens Photography

Shooting since

2013

Current Home

United States of America

Website

Instagram

I am a professional photographer located in Kentucky, USA! I started my business in 2013 and have grown it into what it is today! I travel all over the world capturing love and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

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