Candy bars have been very trendy in the last couple years of wedding planning. There are several reasons for their recent popularity as they are pretty, fun, easy to pull together and work as both a focal point of the wedding day and a take away favor for guests.

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After a family photo session at Baker Beach, we decided to run up to the Marin Headlands to enjoy the warm 75 degrees and perfect sunset timing. The parking up there was miserable, but after getting through the crawling traffic, I landed a spot and joined the hundreds of tourists and photographers sharing the awesome view.

(My shooting partner, Stevie, took a candid of me in the zone. Check out his work.)

This is a quick lighting tutorial for those wanting to get started with off-shoe strobe lighting.

Backyard shots in the middle of the day are seemingly idea for most people, but the challenges are dealing with mixed exposures of the sun’s powerful direct light and shadows.

In the shot below, I grabbed a closeup shot and had my camera center-weighted meter to properly exposure for skin tones. The distant background house produces a drastic highlight that could be distracting. I could’ve retaken the shot and compensated a half stop, but then the house in the background would’ve been more bleached out.

Zooming out in aperture priority mode, the camera exposes for a mixed composition and averages out the shot to expose mainly for the sky, and less on my subject. Again, I could’ve compensated 2 stops to brighten my subject, but then the background would’ve been very blown out.

I setup a studio strobe off to my right and made a shot while exposing for the blue sky.

Then I moved the light to my left and took another shot.

I added a second accent light to my right slightly behind my subject. Ideally you would put this on a light stand, but used a chair to improvise.

Here’s a final shot with both lights in action.

Here’s a look at the setup.

Why go through all of this?

1. It highlights your subject by underexposing the hard sunlight and sky.
2. You get greater detail in your image.
3. It adds depth to the image. A wider gradient from highlight to shadow.

Here are 100% cropped views to show the detail.

This shot below is without lighting:

This shot below is with lighting:

Additional Details:

These were taken on a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24-70 2.8 L lens. The main strobe was a Profoto AcuteB 600R, Acute D4 head with 22″ white beauty dish. The 2nd strobe was a Canon 580EX. The lights were triggered using a cheapo Blazzeo MegTrig from hotshoe to the 580EX, the Profoto was triggered via built-in optical slave from the 580EX.


I’m far from a master of lighting, and the obviousness is that you can actually tell I used lighting. True masters will set this up and you won’t even be able to tell that tons of artificial lighting was used.

We had the splendid pleasure of capturing some great photographs on a perfect sunny day at the Healdsburg Country Garden. With the vineyards as our backdrop, it was difficult to not catch ourselves gazing out into the valley to taste the fresh summer breeze. The venue was fabulous, established just after the turn of the century, featuring a well-equipped antique barn and cottages. The reception was catered by Girl & The Fig, Sonoma. Thanks to Andrea and Barbara for all your help in making a great event!

One of the greatest outlets for inspiration for me is being around children. Their constant curiosity, direct display of emotion, and endless desire for an experience is something we often miss. These are some of the basic things we, as artists, can look at closely. For example: Water is fun. More water is more fun. Splashing water is contagious. And when everyone’s wet – everyone therefore having fun! This is a theme to digging deeper in our subjects – finding more ways to capture our subject and to watch for the absolute truth behind a moment.

A studio shoot for a dancer & musician, we captured some great shots and had a blast.