A bride and groom embrace after sunset
  • Blue Hour
  • calm
  • Center Framed
  • Directional Light
  • holding each other
  • Low angle
  • Natural
  • Natural Light
  • Soft Light
  • Wide

The story behind the image

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As Scotland elopement photographers, we’re pretty used to embracing the elements. But JJ and Tom’s Isle of Skye elopement last November was one of the wettest that we captured all year! Opening the curtains on the morning of their day revealed, well… not much! The landscape shrouded in fog, rendering the views invisible. The rain was torrential and it was also very windy. Many couples might have been a bit daunted at the prospect of a mountain wedding ceremony in such conditions. We need not have worried! But when we arrived at their accommodation, JJ and Tom were all smiles. JJ exclaimed that as she was from a mountainous area in northern Spain, where it often rains heavily, this was absolutely her favourite kind of weather! Phew! Both JJ and Tom were so ready to embrace anything. Throughout the entire day their positive energy, their non-stop smiles and their tender and loving interaction with each other really warmed our hearts. This willingness to embrace the weather, more than anything, is so valuable when working with couples on wild, outdoor elopements — especially in winter.

In November, days are very short here in Scotland, and the sun sets on the Isle of Skye around 4pm. So we obviously like to make the most of what little daylight is available. Having spent a very elemental morning capturing JJ and Tom’s super-romantic (but very wet and misty!) mountain ceremony, we retired to a pub for some lunch, and to warm-up and dry-out. When we emerged, the weather was beginning to clear, the clouds were starting to lift and the sun was even threatening to peek through. We had recced a sunset spot with a great mountain backdrop in advance, and we already knew it would get fantastic evening light at this time of year. But when we arrived, the beauty of the view took even our breath away. As it had rained so much during the day, the atmosphere was heavy with moisture and this had created the most amazing mist that now clung around the hills. Here we made use of the last glimmers of sun, but our real focus was to use the blue hour —just after the sun vanishes—which is a period of the day that we really love. The rain had stopped, the wind had dropped and JJ and Tom were able to enjoy a quiet moment of serenity to contemplate the calm after the storm. As the sun sank lower, the colours grew more and more intense, going from burnt oranges through to soft pinks and lilacs. It was such a tranquil and tender moment surrounded by the majesty of the mountains, and one that will stay with us for a long time.

If there’s one thing that we’ve learnt from living and working in Scotland, it’s that there is always a calm after a storm and the light at this time is almost always amazing… You just have to be patient and wait it out!
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

We asked Tom to lead JJ up a small hill, and then for them to take a moment together at the top to get close, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the view. Typically, we leave couples to interact with each other in whatever way feels natural to them. We only offer direction or prompts if the way in which a couple are positioning themselves is looking awkward or unflattering in some way, then we might gently suggest some slight adjustments. With JJ and Tom, we shot a range of images from different angles and directions with different lenses (between the two of us we shoot on 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 105mm) as they changed their embrace, kissed, and just looked around absorbing the landscape. However, the best light on their faces was when they faced south-west, to where the sun had just set, so we had asked them to hold that position for just a little longer… and this was the shot!

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What did you say?

“Tom, we’d like you to take JJ by the hand and lead her to the top of that small hill [pointing], but favouring us [the photographers] by keeping your bodies facing towards us. When you get to the top of the hill, just take a moment to get close and enjoy the view. You can maybe hold hands, or hug, or whatever you’re in the mood for.” Once they had got into a comfortable position and were settled, we directed, “Hey guys, could you look towards where the sun has set and just relax and take a moment; listen to the sounds of the birds and the wind and think back on your day and watch the colours in the sky as they emerge.”

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Tone of Directions

Calm, Normal

A bride and groom embrace after sunset


There are two clear composition options that work well in mountainous settings—you can either place the couple directly under the peak of a mountain, framing them that way (which we also did), or you can place them in the V between two mountains, which is what we opted for in this image. We kept the couple fairly central in the image, and likewise the V behind them. We positioned their faces in line with the upper third of the frame. We did need to crop the image slightly as it wasn’t possible to line them up perfectly in camera; this was because we were actually stood in the middle of a bog/marsh, so the perfect spot would have seen us sink to our knees! So we shot for the crop that we knew we’d make. We didn’t make them a hard centre, but rather just left of centre. This is because when a couple is staring off in a direction, they need a little ‘looking space’ in that direction to stare into for the image to feel comfortable. It doesn’t take too much, but it just needs a little bias. So this was about balancing that need with the symmetry of them in the landscape that we also wanted.

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Compositional Rules

Broken RulesLeading Lines


Center FramedWideFull Body


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

We focussed directly on the bride’s cheek. While we were shooting at quite a wide aperture (f/2.8), we were also at quite a distance, so both the couple’s heads fell within the focal depth of field. Focusing on an eye at that distance wasn’t really possible, so the cheek was close enough.

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Focus Mode

Continuous Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

Bride's cheek

Equipment &

Canon D750
Nikon AF-S Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR
1/250 @ f/2.8 ISO320 WB-Auto

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

We were using natural light here, during blue hour. So the light is very much the afterglow in the sky just after the sun has dipped below the landscape. It’s a very soft light, and creates a nice gradient against the increasingly darker backdrop behind and on the opposite side of the frame to the light—it’s very much directional light, rather than typical a high angle sunlight. If you’re lucky you’ll get the afterglow to one side, and alpenglow in the opposite direction, providing some amazing additional colour, but not necessarily brightness, to the backdrop.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Light Quality


Time of day

Blue Hour



Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

When we shoot sunsets and blue hour, we try to get as much right in the camera as possible. The colours and softness of light can be wonderful, particularly at the moment the sun just dips below the landscape. We approach this time period much as we do with an interior portrait shot using window light. We use our own interior preset, which has muted tone, raised blacks, low contrast and a very, very shallow-S tone curve. Our presets typically mute blues, reds and green, but this would mean we lose all the subtle blues, lilacs and reds typical to this soft light period. We want to keep all those! So, for sunsets we often don’t use any of the HSL colour profile from our preset.

The main editing points are to address the white balance, warming the image up slightly from the rather low temperature the Auto-WB set. We also needed to brighten several parts of the image with linear and radial masks. We used a wide cigar shaped radial mask across the image at their face height, primarily to raise the whites, which brings in just a little more pop to their skin tones, but we apply it across the image to add some pop to the whites in the sky behind the couple too. We used a linear gradient from the top to just below their faces, primarily to increase highlights. This mainly brightens the sky above them a little. We used a small radial mask on the white material on the bride’s back to reduce the highlights there, as this was a little brighter than we wanted and was distracting. Finally we used a small radial mask directly over both the bride and grooms face, lifting the exposure by 0.10—not much, but coupled with the whites and highlights from the other masks, this was enough.

We are already using 25% pro-mist filters, which provides an in-camera means to add glow and softness to the light. They’re great for sunset and blue-hour light, but they can make getting solid focus difficult at lower light.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Clasic
Preset Used
The Caryls - Interiors


When shooting at a distance, and when so much diversity of photography available from a single couple position, it’s easy to forget to engage with your couple. We are leaving the couple stood for some time while we move in an arc around the couples position, capturing different backdrops and perspectives.

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Speak to your couple continuously. They may not need to be doing anything different than what they’re already doing—you, as the photographer, are doing all the work to shoot them from lots of different angles. But they need to know that you’re still loving what they’re doing, and that you’re still working on taking great images. Be enthusiastic. It’s the end of what might have been a long day. It may be getting cooler. Constant chat, and keeping your couples in the moment, is a wonderful way to finish up your shoot.

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Location Name

Isle of Skye

Location aDDRESS

Isle of Skye, United Kingdom

Loation Type



United Kingdom

We feel that sometimes photographers can be afraid of blue hour, but we find that it’s where we capture some of our favourite images. As photographers who shoot almost 100% outdoors, the only two times of the day when we can be assured of some degree of control over the light, is indoor prep at the start of the day, and the soft light at the end of the day. The light can drop off rapidly, but so long as there is some directionality to the light—if it’s bright in one direction more than another, you can create the soft highlights and contrast you need for beautiful, soft, painterly images. We reckon blue hour tops sunset for romantic images!

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