• Back lit
  • black & white
  • broken rules
  • Center Framed
  • Cloudy
  • Creative
  • Dark
  • Energetic
  • Moody
  • Natural Light
  • negative space
  • Posed
  • Soft Light
  • standing apart
  • Wide

The story behind the image

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Camilla and Michael tied the knot at Durn House – an elegant Scottish Georgian Mansion and 4-Star boutique Guest House. The venue is located in the medieval harbour town of Portsoy, on the Moray Firth cost of northeast Scotland, some 50 miles northwest of Aberdeen. The original name of the village may come from Port Saoithe, meaning “saithe harbour”.

For a wedding photographer, visiting a new location is always a magical experience. Soaking in the life, colour, architecture and the smell of wind inspires. Even more so when the weather is dramatic and the thunders of huge waves crashing on the nearby cliffs give the shutter its rhythm.

The weather that day was capricious. By the time we made it to the harbour, the wind was howling and the sea mist whipped our faces. For me it was pure perfection.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

It is difficult to communicate under such weather conditions. Before I asked Camilla and Michael to climb the hill I told them to stay close, hold hands and assist each other when hiking. I said that when they make it to the top I’d like them to muster all the body warmth they have left and stand an arms length apart – Michael right in the middle of the dip at the top of the stairs and Camilla on the summit. I asked Camilla to take her veil off as it was getting in the way and I felt it could be too dangerous to keep it on – in case it obstructed her view on the way up. I asked her to raise her hand and let it take the wind in – like a sail.

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What did you say?

“guys, you’ll have to stay very close on the way up, hold hands and assist each other when hiking whenever you can. It’s slippery so be sure to watch your every step. When you make it to the top I’d like you to muster all the body warmth you have left and stand an arms length apart. We will be heading to our warm car soon. Michael, I’d like you to stand right in the middle of that dip at the top of the stairs. Camilla, please position yourself right at the peak. Look at each other and then look around. Camilla, please take your veil off as it might get in the way. It might be too dangerous to keep it on but don’t worry – we can use it to add some movement to the pictures. When you’re at the top and feeling comfortable, raise you hand and let the veil take the wind in, like a sail, and let it move with the gusts of wind”

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I framed this photograph using three concepts – centre composition, negative space and imperfect symmetry.

In high winds the clothes, the hair and the facial expressions play the first fiddle. It made sense at the time to use centre composition as it’s the most powerful way of drawing attention to the subject.

As the sky was overcast, I used it as negative space to help define the focus on the couple.

Finally, while the photo is not exactly symmetrical, I decided to break the rule of symmetry even further by adding the bird flock on the right hand side. I spotted a few seagulls above our heads and thought that while I can’t convince them to get in the frame, I can recreate the memory of having them around us by adding a light touch of photoshop magic to the frame.

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Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I was standing fairly far apart from Camilla and Michael. As they both stood in the same focal plane I used a single point focus on Michael, locked and reframed to compose the image. Most of my pictures are taken using this technique.

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Focus Mode

Single Shot

Focus POints

Single Focus Point

Focused on


Equipment &

Nikon D750
Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4
1/3200 @ f/1.6 ISO100 WB-Auto (5550K)

The way the EXIF is written out follows the common photographic method (with the inclusion of White Balance at the end). Here it is broken down:

Shutter Speed @ Aperture ISO White Balance.

Light & Weather

The light was hidden behind the clouds. Whatever rays were piercing through the clouds were dispersed by the sea mist which was all around us and over my lens. The sun would have been fairly low and behind the couple.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day




Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

Stage 1: Lightroom

I tend to adjust my presets for each wedding I shoot. I believe this particular black and white started off with one of Jacob Loafman’s early presets which I then modified.

One little trick worth sharing is the radial filter I tend to use in centre-framed photos. To help the eyes focus on the subject I usually create a radial filter and pull the contrast to the left – maybe by 20-25 points. After that I increase the texture and clarity by 5-10 points if necessary. It’s almost like pulling the exposure up but without being so obvious.

I removed the grain and increased the sharpness of the image a tiny bit prior to exporting it to JPG.

Stage 2: Photoshop

I added the flock of birds in photoshop and saved the photo to JPG.

Stage 3: Exposure

I created two layers in Exposure. I used the bottom layer for creative overlay – I added a circular flare that imitates the ring of fire. Once done I added the “rodinal” developer 25% grain to the top layer. I then exported the picture to JPG.

Stage 4: JPEG Mini

I treated the photo with JPEG Mini to reduce its size. In black and white photos often the space-saving can be up to 75% of the original file weight. It’s incredible!

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic
Preset Used
Own Custom Preset


Frankly – the biggest challenge would have been the weather. It was cold, wet, and my lens was covered by salty sea spray. The thing is – if you shoot weddings in Scotland or in Iceland, you get used to such conditions and make the most out of the time you are given.

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Dad jokes!

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Location Name

Portsoy Harbour

Location aDDRESS

Shorehead, Portsoy, Banff AB45 2PB

Loation Type



United Kingdom

Both Camilla and Michael were an absolute joy to work with and together we’ve managed to turn the photoshoot into a great adventure. If you can do that with your couples, no technical or environmental issues will get you down.

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