the Shoot

Location Equipment
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I was shooting a personal project that happened to be a funky, queer, 90’s kid-style elopement out near Palm Springs in SoCal… as you do. At the end of the shoot a suddenly a rainbow appeared behind us. Mind you, it’s always been a dream of mine to shoot a queer couple with an actual, real-life rainbow in it. I wanted to make sure this capture was as joyous as I felt.
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Location Name

Palm Springs

Location aDDRESS

5400N N Indian Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262


United States

Location TYPE




Canon R5




Canon RF 50mm f1/1.2 L

Lens Filter


Other Equipment
No additional equipment was used.

the Shoot

Directions Composition Focus Light & Exposure
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Energetic Laughing Playful


These two were a hoot and were having the time of their lives, so it made my job easy. When I turned around and saw the rainbow, we all freaked out. I told them, “Run to the rainbow! Go! Be gay!” After getting some shots from further away, I told them to drunk run towards me (not particularly hard in the sand!) and embrace five feet in front of my camera while screaming the name of a certain biological male body part.

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What was said

Run towards me! When you’re about five feet in front of me, embrace and scream ‘penis’ as loud as you can! They need to hear you say that word over in LA! I need to suffer from hearing damage! Aaaaaand go!

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Why I composed the way I did

Composing and cropping this shot was difficult due to the angle of the rainbow and how far away it was, as well as distracting elements in the background. I wanted to make sure all of the rainbow’s leading line led to the couple, but I was worried it’d look like one of them would be shooting a rainbow out of their head. In the end, I opted to center the couple and make Noah’s facial expression the clear focus.

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Rule of Thirds Center Framed Mid Range


Focus mode

Single point auto focus

Focus Technology

Continuous Autofocus

Focused on

Brown-haired model's eye

Focus description

I used my R5’s eye-detect autofocus in servo mode to zero in on Noah’s closest eye for this image. Servo eye-detect is my go-to for shooting couples, especially when movement is involved.

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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 was shot with harsh direct sunlight at the end of golden hour. Without a cloud in the sky, lighting proved a struggle for composition in such a stark environment – I wanted the rainbow and couple to be centered, but this meant the blonde model’s face would need to be in shadow. Luckily, the sand here was white and reflected light to fill in her shadow somewhat. If I had to do this shoot again, I would have sucked it up and taken a picture of them with the light on both of their faces, a picture of the rainbow out of focus, and composited them in photoshop.

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Harsh Light Cloudy Afternoon

the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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Editing &

Editing Software used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Preset Used

Own personal Presets

How I edited this image

It was pretty hot this day in the desert, and I wanted my edit to reflect that heat and the harshness of the surrounding area. I used my own personal harsh lighting preset, brought the highlights down, and tweaked the hue and saturation sliders slightly for orange and blue, slightly denaturing the oranges and giving the blues in the background a little more oompf. To top it all off, I applied a saturation brush to the rainbow. I considered brushing in some exposure to the blonde model’s face, but I felt this was a situation where doing that could leave the image feeling fake or overedited.

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Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

This was shot at a wind farm. As you might imagine, it was incredibly windy. Shooting the couple backlit meant having their hair fly towards me and covering their faces like Cousin It from The Addams Family, so between this and the placement of the rainbow, shooting them facing towards the sun was the only option.

Solutions I found

In the end, it worked out even though the lighting wasn’t optimal for how I wanted to compose my image. The blonde model’s face is in shadow, but it serves to accentuate the joy and laughter in her partner’s face. At the end of the day, making people feel something is more important than a perfectly crafted image.


This shot helped me conquer my fear of harsh lighting, and reminded me how important emotion is to a photograph.
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Photographed by

Luke Payne Photography

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