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R+A Photo Stories: Shelby+Travis Engagement Photos In The Rain

Engagement photos in the rain: Rick+Anna Photography

Wow you guys!  Last week’s photo story was one of our most popular blog posts of February, so we are excited to share another one with you today.  This image was taken last year during Shelby+Travis’ engagement session in downtown Seattle, and we’ve been asked so many times how we created it “in photoshop” that we wanted to share a bit about it today.  First off, we very very rarely pull any of our images into photoshop.  In fact, just about the only time that it’s a necessity for us is when we need to remove something distracting from the background of a photo (such as an exit sign during a reception, for example) because our style is very natural and timeless – and we prefer to get it right “in camera” rather than try to fix it later on a computer.

We love this photos for a few different reasons.  First, because as we got to know Shelby+Travis, we were so impressed by how these two have weathered storms together and it’s only made them stronger as a (now married) couple.  Their love story is an inspiration to us, and we love how this photo provides a metaphor for how they’ve stood together and weathered tough times as a team. Secondly, we love that we pushed ourselves technically to try something new when we took this shot!  In the days leading up to their shoot we knew that it was probably going to be raining, and sure enough, it was a steady downpour when the day arrived – and rescheduling wasn’t an option because they needed their save the date photo.  Rather than meeting in a beautiful country field, as we had initially planned, we spoke with Shelby+Travis and decided to meet downtown at the Sculpture Museum where we used the indoor space as well as the covered areas around the park – and we had so much fun dodging the storm and get some adorable shots.  As we were wrapping things up, we knew we wanted to do something a bit more creative for them, and this certain alley near Pioneer Square kept coming to mind, so we jumped in our cars – and as we parked it started absolutely pouring on us!

It was so loud in the alley because of the rain that Rick and I were communicating by hand signals when we created this photo, and it is basically straight out of the camera except for a tiny bit of photoshop work to remove Rick’s feet and one arm because he was standing about 10 feet behind Shelby+Travis holding two flashes.   Here are our settings and how we got this shot:

For the shot I was standing in the rain and using my Canon 5D Mark III with our 70-200mm at 120mm, ISO 160, F3.5, SS1/50.  Rick was standing behind them holding a couple of speed lights both set at full power (since this was taken in the middle of the afternoon it was quite bright out even though it was cloudy!) to get the effect of lighting up the rain drops and backlighting Shelby+Travis to separate them from the background.  I slowed my shutterspeed down to 1/50 because I really wanted to bring in as much ambient light as possible and get that effect of being able to see the rain drops falling, and I went to 3.5 on my aperture because in my initial test shots the flash was a little bright, and this helped to tone it down a bit since Rick couldn’t hear me due to the sound of the rain – and I didn’t want to spend more time than necessary getting soaked!  As I mentioned, Rick was standing behind them with the flashes so we did have to photoshop his arm out, but other than that no editing was done other than a tiny exposure increase adjustment.

We get a lot of questions about how we choose our flash settings when we’re working with off camera lighting, so here’s a little insight into into how we get our settings…we initially just set the flash somewhere that we think will be close (in this case we set them both very high because it was so bright outside and we knew we would need a lot of light) and take a test shot, and then we check the back of the camera and our histogram and make power adjustments or camera setting adjustments as needed to get the look that we’re going for.  When we’re out on location, especially during weddings, we don’t have a lot of time for elaborate or time-consuming setups, so we’re now to the point where we can use unspoken communication and/or hand signals to get all of our settings and get the shot that we’re looking for as quickly as possible.  One of the best ways to figure this out is to simply go out and give it a try!  Learn the correlation between flash power and your camera settings, and how to quickly make adjustments to get exactly the look that you’re going for.  At first, it took us trial and error and lots of research to figure it all out, but now after just one test shot we can usually make adjustments and nail it the second time.

If we had the chance to take this shot again, the one thing that we would have changed was angling the flashes up further, so that we did not get so much spill on the ground around their feet, and this is something that we now always look for when we’re taking backlit shots with an off camera flash – but overall we still love this photo, not only because it is an interesting shot that we were able to capture in the middle of the day, but because we feel like it is just perfect as part of Shelby+Travis’ love story!

Questions about this shot?  Leave them in the comments or shoot us an email at

engagement photos in the rain


  • March 26, 2015 - 1:02 pm

    Linda - Awesome picture!!!!!ReplyCancel

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