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As one of the most valuable things we’ve ever learned; shooting until it literally is too dark to shoot has changed everything for us. We used to call it quits just after the sun had set and be done with the shoot thinking there wasn’t much magic after the infamous “golden hour”. But man, were we wrong. This blue hour, this gentle tone of light & soft palette of color that remains is such a wonderful bit of light to work with. To make it even more special, it lasts but a moment and so being quick is always helpful.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

We asked our couple to stand facing each other and to hold hands like they were about to dance. What was important was to allow the dress to catch a bit of the wind and float; and so we asked them to try and move their bodies to allow this to happen. It was just simply moving side to side until they found the right direction. Finally, as they were holding hands, we encouraged them to get really nice and close, and snuggle into each other.

What did you say?

Guys, the wind in the dress looks insane! Hold your hands like you were to be dancing with each other, and get really nice and close. Even snuggle into each other. And while you’re doing this, move a little bit, side to side, to help let the wind catch the dress

How did you compose your image?

We purposely had our couple stand on this hill as we wanted to shoot slightly lower down from them which would completely hide the rest of the beach & car traffic behind them. It also meant that we could place them on the background of the awesome sky. Since we didn’t have too many compositional elements in this frame to work with, we kept them in the center with enough breathing room around them to show context.

How and what did you focus on?

The focusing was actually really slow due to the low light. There was no special trick that we did and just had to keep trying and trying until we nailed it. What we did do though was shoot in single shot and just refocused each time as it helped us to really find that lock. We tried to move our focus point on the shoulder of the bride as the dress made it be a bit more contrasty, theoretically helping the camera to find its focus.


How did you use the light in your image?

As the light had set just off to the left of the image, we still wanted to catch whatever rays it had left – and so we positioned our couple so that they would be turned slightly towards the light. It didn’t matter too much if they moved out of position since it really wasn’t such a strong directional light, but we chose to do it anyways just in case we could come back with a nice range of highlights and shadows to play with.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon 5D Mark IV


Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L





Shutter Speed






White Balance


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

For this edit, we wanted to keep it more on the dark/evening feel as this is what the moment was all about. The last remnants of light. Naturally, our couple are a bit darker than what we would usually go for but we liked the overall feeling of it. We started with our Protea presets as a base, and then systematically went through each slider and adjusted things to get the tones we liked. We then added in quite a few radial adjustments to enhance the light coming from the left of the image, as well as to create manual vignettes as well as to brighten certain parts of our couple. We then took the brush and did some very light dodging and burning on the couple.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic


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What challenges did you face?

The focus was definitely the biggest challenge here as it was really so dark and the camera really struggled to find it’s lock. It also didn’t help that the couple was moving, on purpose, and so it definitely made it that much harder.

How did you solve them?

We tried positioning our single focus point in different places and set the camera to burst mode, and literally shot enough frames to make a movie. We didn’t mind – we just really wanted to increase the chance of getting that perfect shot.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

There is nothing wrong with coming back with a ton of photos from the session. Digital files cost almost nothing in comparison to film, and memory cards are becoming even more affordable each year. When you shoot a lot, not only do you get higher chances of nailing that one perfect shot – but you’re also exposed to a bunch of images that ‘didn’t work, and while you’re culling and going through them – you’ll start to understand why they didnt work. It may have been the focusing, the light, the exposure or even the pose the couple was in.

We have learnt a tremendous amount from our own mistakes this way, and this is largely why we have a habit of filling up a good few memory cards even when the shoot may be under 2 hours.


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We are Melli & Shayne, a couple coming from vastly different worlds but have been inseparable ever since we met in Zanzibar. We have been passionately capturing love stories since 2014 and have loved every step of the way. We love to meet fellow photographers, to share our knowledge amongst a bottle (or two) of wine and support every one wherever we can.

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