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There was something unusual about the place we were photographing that day. We were strolling in the middle of the castle courtyard, over which a glass roof had been built. All the walls were covered with ivy and the tables were overflowing with bouquets of white flowers and luscious green leaves. When it got dark, the whole room was lit only by candles and spotlights brought by the team.

Conditions were beautiful to look at and very difficult for the camera. We took this photo during the romantic first dance when the sun was already long gone. We didn’t give our couple any guidelines. Everything was pre-arranged, the team was given specific lighting guidelines, and we had to find the best possible perspective to capture the impressive atmosphere well.

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How did you compose your image?

We chose a horizontal frame to put the couple in a broader perspective. We wanted to show not only them dancing but also the rest of the space, which after dark looked like something out of a movie. On one side there was the dance floor glowing with cool light, and on the other side there were tables with lit candles. From above, they looked like streets lit by lanterns.

To balance this mood well, we divided the frame in half. We used a 35mm lens to emphasize the scale of the place. This helped a lot because in reality, the whole courtyard was smaller than it looks in the photos.

How and what did you focus on?

We always use continuous tracking mode. In dynamic moments like dancing, reframing or using single-shot mode only gets in our way. With the focus point set on the couple, we could compose the scene in peace. No distractions or thinking about parameters.

We imagine that many cameras may not be able to do well with focusing on dark silhouettes. Manual mode would work well in this case too. Especially if you can enable focus peaking on the camera. Choosing between auto and manual mode is often a matter of preference and established habits.

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How did you use the light in your image?

We did not use our lights during the first dance. The team set up powerful spotlights that illuminated only our couple. We had reporter lights hidden in the room, but their light would have taken away all the mood.

We photographed this scene from several perspectives. From below and from an upstairs window. Downstairs, we had the choice of shooting with or against the light because the space was small, and it was easy for us to change positions. Upstairs, we had to decide on one position because any change would have taken too much time.

The dark outlines of the couple looked great against the background of all the guests gathered around. This way we showed enough to see the desired details but maintained a dense atmosphere.

We used the spotlights set up by the band. They were so strong that using additional lighting would have ruined the atmosphere.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Camera

Canon R6

Lens

Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4

Filter

None

Other

None

Shutter Speed

1/160

Aperture

f/2.0

ISO

1000

White Balance

Auto

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

The courtyard was filled with light smoke, so all the lights automatically became softer. They didn’t need to be tweaked anymore, so we focused mainly on changing the colors.

We corrected the white balance and turned off all the unnecessary colors (especially the fluorescent green backlighting of the band) that were distracting and made the photo lose its “smoothness”.

We applied our favorite grading to the left side of the photo, which is blue in the lights and orange in the shadows. Finally, we changed the yellow to a more orange color. We love this autumn candlelight shade, and our photos rarely have a yellow tint.

The rest of the processing was just minor adjustments in Photoshop. Most importantly, we removed the part of the cameraman who was sticking out from the bottom of the frame. Despite all the love for LR, we do the removal of unnecessary elements, retouching, and even final color corrections in Photoshop.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Preset

own custom preset

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What challenges did you face?

The biggest challenge was working with conditions beyond our control. We knew how the couple was supposed to be illuminated, but the final result may have been different from what we envisioned. We wanted to be prepared for everything, so we needed photos from several perspectives.

How did you solve them?

The best solution is to work as a team of two – either as a regular duo or with a hired photographer. When we’re not sure what to expect, one of us can photograph safely while the other looks for more interesting shots.

In this case, the journey from the dance floor to the first floor would take tens of seconds (not counting squeezing through the crowd). If we hadn’t traveled to weddings together, we definitely wouldn’t have taken this photo.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

Before the reception, we always take the time to walk through the entire property and memorize the most interesting areas. Sometimes we photograph all day in the same space – this helps a lot. When we first arrive at the venue after the ceremony, we use the dinnertime to take a long walk around the area.

With all these perspectives in mind and knowing the plan for the day, it’s easier for us to plan our work. We shoot very reportage-like and don’t stage anything, but we know where to hunt for images. We avoid places without potential and focus on the best ones. We don’t spend hours there waiting for the photo of a lifetime, but we walk among them and look out for interesting situations.

Before this reception, we walked around the entire castle, so we knew ahead where we could take the best photos.

Lightsome Studio

Shooting since

2013

Current Home

Poland

Website

Instagram

For years, we have been creating tender love stories. We are looking for beauty in everyday life and small gestures, we appreciate diversity and photograph with open minds. We live and work together. We love good stories about people. We photograph to tell our own – those about crazy expeditions and daily routine. About two people who found each other in this big world. About bare feet on the dance floor, tears on the cheeks, and whispered marriage vows.

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