the Shoot

Location Equipment
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This couple was very excited to do their engagement session in Yosemite National Park, and rightly so! We had so much planned for the day. Originally we were going to meet up in the Valley, drive up to Glacier Point Road, and hike to a famous scenic spot for some dreamy sunset photos. But, as things happen, this did not go according to plan at all.

The couple was stuck in traffic that made them 45 minutes late and cut into our hiking time. Thankfully, I spent a summer working and living in Yosemite National Park so I’m pretty familiar with the area and we were able to go somewhere else for an equally stunning sunset session, albeit just a little different.
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Location Name

Yosemite National Park, California

Location aDDRESS

Yosemite National Park, California


United States

Location TYPE




Canon 5D Mark III




Canon EF 50mm F/1.2L

Lens Filter


Other Equipment
No additional equipment was used.

the Shoot

Directions Composition Focus Light & Exposure
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Calm Intimate Natural


When I saw Half Dome illuminated in the alpenglow I noticed that the couple would be in the shade and it would be really difficult to get a straight-on shot. But I saw an opportunity for a romantic silhouette shot against Half Dome. So I had them stand directly in between me and Half Dome and I exposed to capture the glow on the rock face as opposed to my couple, otherwise I would’ve blown out the background.

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What was said

Okay guys! Go stand in between me and Half Dome, face each other, and kiss each other as if you were on the cover of a romance novel.”

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Why I composed the way I did

I wanted to bring focus to the couple accentuated by the natural beauty of the landscape we were in. I had the couple framed within the mountain in the background to avoid any lines cutting through them. This also forms a natural frame around the couple which helps to make the image feel a lot more pleasing.

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Center Framed Mid Range Natural Frames


Focus mode

Single point auto focus

Focus Technology

Single Shot Autofocus

Focused on

the couple's bodies

Focus description

I used autofocus to focus on the couple instead of the backdrop, I wanted to bring the attention to them knowing that the background was so classic that it would still be recognizable as Half Dome.

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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

At this point I think we’d already skipped sunset and gone right into Blue Hour. We were facing East and with the sun setting in the West we had the last bit of light illuminating the background. I think the light was dreamy and worked in our favor!

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Back lit Dark Natural Light

the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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Editing &

Editing Software used
Preset Used
How I edited this image

I used Phil Chester’s PS Presets Ps07 Vintage, I liked that it brought a vintage tinge of green to the sky and added some warmth to the alpenglow. I used the clone tool to heal a little bit of tree that was popping in on the right hand side just to clean up the image and remove any distractions.

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Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

Our biggest challenge was the time constraint. We were running out of sunlight very quickly and didn’t have very much time left to capture all of the photos we wanted to.

Solutions I found

We had to act fast! I think accepting the blue hour and alpenglow was the clear solution to make the most with what we had.


Sometimes as photographers it’s hard because we want to have full control of everything, but rarely do we get that privilege. Knowing how to work in every type of lighting situation is crucial to make sure your clients are satisfied with the images that they receive.
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Photographed by

Marcela Pulido

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