Going wrong, but going right

Believe it or not, this photo was taken in broad daylight – outside on a gorgeous, sunny, autumn afternoon. [Click for a bigger view if on a big screen]

Believe it or not, it wasn’t supposed to look like this at all.

We’d popped outside to do some bride and groom portraits with every intention of creating a clean silhouette on a white background. If there’s a bright enough light source behind the subjects – and a tight aperture on the camera – this gives a strong, sharp black-on-white image. And none of the daylight is bright enough to show up on the photo.

A few minutes earlier I’d set up a shoot-through umbrella with a Profoto flash head inside it ready for the shot. But it was a windy day, and when we came out the umbrella had blown over and was completely wrecked.

So – with a bit of improvisation I set the light a little higher, with no modifier, creating a much more intense and tighter beam of light. Enough to blast the faces from behind, causing that ‘rim’ effect – where the light just catches the edges. ISO 100, shutter 1/200s, f/8.0 for those who keep an eye on these things.

Some tidying-up in post, taking away the colour, and adjusting the levels so it really was a solid black…and out of a bit of bad luck came a whole lot more good luck.

Love it when that happens. (Especially when the unexpected outline suggests a heart. That really was an accident.)