Balancing sunset and flash photography

One thing that I like to post here is some recent images especially images that have used off camera lighting. Most of these will be from actual client shoots, so you can get real world examples and give you the thought process that went behind the image and well as all of the technical details.  Please leave any comments in the comment section below or even questions.  I love to answer all questions so feel free to open up a discussion.


When photographing weddings I am always looking for interesting light.

I want to find unique lighting situations that can make my work shine.




This was actually a fairly simple shot to setup and I think it really captured the romance and beauty of the wedding.


The sun at this time was getting very low (about 20 minutes until sunset).  Because of some haze in the sky the sun was very soft and had a much richer orange glow than normal.  The glow on the horizon and trees  in the background was amazing and I really wanted to capture that but also have the bride and groom lit well.  If you were to expose for the light on the bride and groom here the background would be totally washed out and you would loose all of the beauty of the light.  So we setup a quick Q Flash (for anyone who doesn’t know of a Q Flash they are awesome flash units quantum makes, they are powered by a attached battery and give out more power than a typical flash.  I think of them somewhat in between a normal flash and a studio strobe).  Check out the Q-Flash here:

Quantum Q Flash T5dR


The Q flash was set about 30 degrees to the right of the camera up very high pointed down at them.  We exposed more for the background and adjusted the Q flash to give a good fill flash to the bride and groom.  The exposure is really key here, I want that rich color in the background and have to meter on the background without allowing the sun to trick the light meter.  If I don’t have time to take a light meter reading (with weddings sometimes you only have a minute to set up a shot) I will take a few test shots on Manual exposure and adjust as needed.  That’s it, just one light and then shooting into the sun gave that beautiful lens flare that I am a big fan of!

Not really much photoshop done to the image other than burning in the sky a little and the top and bottom of the tree.


Tech Specs:


Camera:  Canon 5d

ISO:  100

Exposure Program:  Manual

Shutter Speed:  1/200 sec

F-Stop:  f/8.0

lens:  Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS

set to 78.00mm



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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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  1. I LOVE this! This post, this site, this sharing… it’s all fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing with us all.

  2. Thanks for the comment Cat! Look for lots of new posts coming soon!


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