Photographed by Mel Rey

Story

As I was just finishing up working this beautiful couple’s wedding and walking back to the parking lot to leave, I looked to see the side of this building which was once covered with a ton of parked cars in front of it, to be now empty. I was in love with the way the lights glowed with the hazy fog in the air. I remember my eyes lit up thinking of placing the couple symmetrically in front of the doors. I knew they were saying goodbye to guests and I was a little nervous to ask if they would be willing to slip away for one last shot. I knew I would regret it though if I didn’t so, I ran back and told them about this epic wall and that I had a cool vision for it. I was pumped when they were excited too and agreed to come to check it out with me. I didn’t have this end edit in mind, I just knew it would be a cool shot for whatever way I decided to edit it.
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Directions

EnergeticSimpleStanding apart

I spoke with excitement but, also understanding if they didn’t want to be pulled away for another photo moment. I had them stand an even distance from each other and directed them to look towards my camera for the shot. Everything worked perfectly! When it came to directing them I simply asked them to stand an even distance between each other and the doors and to look towards my camera. Then I remember yelling “BOOOOOM MAGIC BABY” after hearing the shutter click.
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Calm Energetic
Planned On the spot
Tricky Easy
Posed Natural
“heyyyy guys! I’m back with one last epic shot idea and I would be so sad to not ask you before I leave. Would you be down to get creative for a couple more minutes with me? If not no worries, I just had to ask! Can you stand an even distance between each other and just look into my camera! BOOOOOM MAGIC BABY “
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Composition

Rule of ThirdsCenter FramedSymmetry

When composing this image, I knew that I wanted the whole image to be symmetrical. To give it that evening distributed look that’s pleasing to the eye. For me I wanted the scale of the building to be big yet, for the couple to not disappear in the image either. I had also known that their outfits would contrast lovely against this background as well to allow them to still pop out from their surroundings.
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When composing a symmetrical shot, the details matter. What I mean by this is to pay attention to the lines and details of the building. To place the couple evenly apart from the center of the door opening, paying attention to where I need to stand to get the shot far enough back to see that even the lights above are in the shot showing even more symmetry. Also, it helps to have the grid marks displayed in your viewfinder to ensure you’re not standing crooked and that everything appears level. This makes it easier for you in post-production as well.

Focusing

Single Point Focused on The grooms eye Single Shot Autofocus
For this image, I put my autofocus focal point on the couple’s face to ensure they would be in focus. Sometimes it’s just a very simple thing to do and fortunately in this case, i had no problem finding focus.
Light & Weather

Soft LightNatural LightSunset

The sun was setting and the only light I had glowing was from the last bit of sunlight which was setting in front of us and the two lights on the building. I love that this shot had a more moody feel to it by being shot towards the evening.
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Equipment & EXIF

1/200 f/1.4 ISO 1250 WB Auto

Camera

Canon 5D Mark IV

Lens

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II

Editing

Lightroom, Photoshop, Alien Skin Exposure X3 Custom

Software used:

 

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop

Post-production was everything for this image. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but, I love to let my edits guide my direction as I go with no expectations in mind. I first started the image out in Lightroom where I adjusted the tones and exposure. I liked the moody direction it was going by keeping it darker especially since we shot this image towards it getting dark. I had also used the Dodge brush (lightening) on the couple’s bodies to make them be even lighter in the image allowing them to stand out in the image.

Once I liked how the image looked, I used “command E” (keyboard shortcut to open the image in photoshop) to make further edits in Photoshop. In my opinion, it’s where all of the magic begins. I can really get creative without any limitations in that software. I used the healing tool to remove any unwanted lines on the ground or distractions. I also brought in a ring of fire overlay I had purchase from Lens Distortions.

At first, it was a full circle ring and I began placing it to line up with the two lights. I didn’t like that it was a full circle so I used my eraser tool to only have a half circle and I stretched it to fit from one light to the next. I then adjusted the color and contrast of the ring of fire overlay to match the rest of the image. I had also earlier that week just learned how to do pixel sorting in Photoshop. I can’t remember the specific location I had purchase the plugin for the effect but if you google Pixel Sorting plugin there are a few different plugins you can purchase and use.

I then used a brush tool to paint where I wanted the effect to happen on the image. I had this image of it almost being like lava streaming from the ring of fire overlay and that’s why I had chosen that location to paint it on. I then pressed Command S to save the edits back into Lightroom. I still felt like the image was missing something so I pulled the image into Alien Skin Exposure X3. That’s where I added the bokeh effect to the lights to give them a glow and blur. Overall, this is one of the longest edits I have done for a client but, I was obsessed with the end results and when my clients got it, they yelled “THIS WAS SO WORTH LEAVING OUR GUESTS FOR”.
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This image was edited with

Custom

Challenges & Solutions
It was getting dark and while this was shot a few years ago, I didn’t have a firm grasp on where my settings should be. I was worried about the noise and amount of grain the image would have and if it would come out clear enough. In post processing it was really challenging to figure out how to properly use the pixel sorting technique and plug in. It took me a few hours to figure out.

Location

Industrial United States

Martin Johnson House

8840 Biological Grade, La Jolla, CA 92037

Final tips & Advice

Never be afraid to ask your couple to take that one last shot. The worst thing that could happen is for them to say no, and you can try it out on another couple. You never know what magic will come from asking. That’s one thing I have learned a ton over the past few years and it’s always in that moment that I achieve the most magical edits/shots.
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Mel Rey

Photographer United States of America Canon 5D mark IV EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
Hi there! I’m Mel, a funky rollerskating wedding photographer based out of Long Beach California. I have been shooting weddings full time for four years but, picked up my first camera over ten years ago and fell in love ever since. I believe that every wedding or session has something unique and extraordinary magic woven through every moment. It’s just waiting to be captured in the most equally unique way. I also love teaching photographers how to push through their own negative thoughts and fears that are suppressing them from being their own unique creative self. Do not worry about falling away from what’s trending because ultimately, what we put out there, as long as it’s done with all of your heart, will attract the right people. To stop blending and start creating work that resonates with their own soul.
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I’m a huge fan of the Twilight Zone so, I love this quote from Rod Sterling- “imagination … its limits are only those of the mind itself.”

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