Last week I had a Friday afternoon wedding. It was primarily shot outdoors, and it was extremely bright. Before the ceremony I met my bride and groom for a first look session and some portraits. Then, between the first look and the start of the ceremony, it was time to capture a ring shot. Usually the bride or groom just hands me the rings, and I go to work. But this time it was a bit different. Back when we did their engagement session, the couple posed on a park bench, both reading books. He is an engineer and she is a research librarian, so they live in a world of reading, education and, well, books.
When we were gathering up their sentimental items for the detail shots, she had one of the books that they held in that engagement session, and she asked me to incorporate it with their rings into a ring shot. At first, I thought about folding two pages in, propping the rings up in the center, and trying to create the heart shadow. That just seemed a little too 'cliche.' So I started skimming through the book, and eventually scanned over a page and saw the word "Diamond." Well that seemed like the perfect thing, so I put the groom's ring on the page so that it was circling the world Diamond. Then I took a shot. It was incredibly bright outside, no clouds at all, and the sun was very high in the sky, casting harsh shadows. So I took a whole series of images. First, I went around and focused on all of the important sections of the rings, as I normally would for a focus stacked macro photo. Then, I went back through, and re-did those areas which were extremely dark in shadow, or extremely bright in harsh light. I exposed each of the shots according to which section I wanted to have properly exposed.
I would love to then have a story of post-processing heroism. I would love to explain how I pulled out every luminosity trick in the books, and went into this tool and that, etc., but that would be a lie. I took all of the images, ten in total, and I used the auto-align tool in Photoshop. Then, I just blended them all together - all at one time! The darks, the lights, the properly exposed, and all the different focus points... I just tossed it in to Photoshop, and said "algorithm Gods - give me a photo!" The image was generated very close to what it looks like in this final version! I did take an adjustment brush to the areas where the words are, and I brought up the contrast on "I do" and "diamonds." I lightened some shadowing, and that was it!
The bride instantly exclaimed "that should win an award, I have never loved a photo more!" There is probably a tad bit of bias there, as it is a very emotionally significant image for her - but bottom line, the client was thrilled, and it didn't take 45 minutes of editing layers to put it together!
Gear: Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 100mm 2.8L Macro