Swander Photography » Kansas City Wedding & Portrait Photographer

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Behind the shot: Mixed Lighting

Hey Guys,

Today I’m going to walk you through my side of a photograph.  I captured this shot on the roof of Terrace on Grand with Brett + Kalinda.  I’ve had such a great response from everyone and lots of photographers are asking me how I lit the image.  So I’m going to break that down.

 Create an opportunity

I always try to steal the bride and groom for a night shot if it’s in the cards.  For this venue I knew we had an amazing view of downtown Kansas City.

The pose is a simple honeymoon carry with the groom in what I call “power stance” (legs more than shoulder width apart).  I knew the groom could nail this because we did a similar shot for the engagement session.


Create Familiarity

I can’t emphasize how important it is that your wedding photographer also cover an engagement session so the couple can learn the way the photographer’s sense of humor and the way the photographer directs poses.

Plan for the Unexpected

I had sent my assistant home because she had done an awesome job for me and she hadn’t been feeling well.  I really wanted to make sure she got some rest.  I had already thought the rooftop photo through and I was pretty sure I could still pull it off without my lighting assistant if I could steal a person to hold one of my lights.


Gellin’ and White Balance

This shot of the father and daughter use the same lighting technique.


When we pulled the bride and groom we got this shot on the first try.  We did two poses and both were keepers.

I had an orange gelled flash on camera, a guest actually held an orange gelled video light for me but I had a tripod if I needed it.

Then I had a light weight light stand camera right just out of the frame with a normal light on it.

For those who don’t know, your eyes are amazing at knowing what colors are what even when they are lit by very different colors of light… Except when we decide if a dress is blue or gold in a viral photo.  If we are in the shade our minds expect cooler more blue shifted color.  If we are in sunlight we expect warmer yellower color.

Cameras aren’t as good at knowing what color is what.  Cameras decide what colors are what with a setting called white balance.  If you look at lightbulbs at the store they will often give you the Kelvin Scale of light they output.  This scale is telling you how blue or yellow the light is.


Orange (2800K white  balance) subject lighting and white 5000+K flash lighting combine in an interesting way that allows you to white balance the photo to 2800K (Telling camera the lights are too orange) making white flashes blue and you get this really “cool” lighting effect.  You’re telling the camera that everything is too yellow and so it adds blue to everything to compensate.  The yellow and blue balance on the subject creating normal skin tones and a white dress.  The white light and everything else not hit by orange light directly looks cooler and more blue.

Once you get this down you can make these really amazing photos with dramatic lighting even if the light in the room isn’t the best.

I hope you guys enjoyed, sorry if it was too technical.  If so let me know or ask questions I’ll try to explain it.  Feel free to leave comments below.