• Backlit
  • Mountains
  • Sunset
  • sunny
  • Sun flare
  • sun behind couple
  • shoot through
  • Natural Frame
  • midday
  • canyons
  • little couple
  • Evening
  • distant
  • couple far away
  • clear sky
  • Center Framed
  • cave
  • Wide

The story behind the image

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During the early parts of COVID lockdown, there was a specific location that I had been trying to find for a while with my partner. Eventually, I realized that this location was one that I had already shot at, but just at a different angle. Obviously, since COVID was happening and the lockdown was very active, I was not able to find models to document this great spot. So we enlisted one of our friends who had been quarantining with who we often hike and climb with to join us.

I carefully scrambled to the spot at sunset, setting up the framing, exposure, and model (aka my fiancee). Once I had everything in order, I slipped on a wedding dress, told our friend exactly where to stand, how to focus to take the photo that I set up, and hope and pray that he would not move. We took a couple of frames to make sure that it all looked right, and in exchange, I took a photo of him drinking a beer, with the same epic lighting and all.

For me, posing myself and my partner, I felt the best route was to show the beauty of the location keeping the shot not tight, mostly showing us in a stunning place. We had a lot of fun being carefree, catching the dress in the wind. Since this shot, I have gotten to photograph at least six couples in this exact spot and they are always some of their favorite photos in their galleries.
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I used a wide lens so that I would be able to frame the image with the rock formation that appears like a cave. I wanted to make sure to get a little sun flair to give more of that desert vibe, but otherwise mostly keeping the subject centered in the frame.

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Center Framed


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I placed my partner where he would stand for the portrait and focused on him to set up the shot.

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Focus Mode

Single Shot Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

The couple

Equipment &

Nikon D750
Tamron 17-35mm
1/1000 @ f/11 ISO200 WB-7200k

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

As I have shot at this location many times throughout the fall, winter and spring this time of year is prime for this shot. The sun passes through the perfect spot for a little sun flare, backlight on the couple, and lighting the edges of the “cave” to add a special dynamic effect. I typically shoot backlit so this type of lighting is easy for me to work with.

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Light Type

Natural Light



Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

I have a custom preset that is a mix of two presets that I’ve purchased that edits the HSL and tone curves. However, I keep my editing pretty simple. I like the photos to be realistic and to speak for themselves, mostly just turning the dull RAW into a pretty Jpeg.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic
Preset Used
Custom Preset


The first challenge was finding the location and determining the best way to get to the spot, as you have to traverse a sketchy rocky ledge. We are all climbers and have the proper shoes to feel confident to do it, but this isn’t a route so the first time our friend thought we should enter the back way, lol he was wrong.

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The second challenge was this wasn’t a place I could safely put a tripod nor have enough time to safely get over to the other rock for a self portrait, my solution was to have a live human act as a tripod.

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Location Name


Location aDDRESS

Sedona, Arizona

Loation Type



United States

Working in Sedona most of the year we often work in the same location, this thought me to really push the boundaries when it comes to looking at an area differently or finding other ways to shoot a location. Take the time to go somewhere without a couple, just for fun to get super familiar with it, how the light falls each time of year, or what is nearby higher and lower. Since this shot we have used this for almost every couple, sometimes even getting the couple to different areas than we usually would, depends on their fear of heights.

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