Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel Wedding
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Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel Wedding

This image was taken at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, right after their wedding day first look. When our couples decide to do a first look before the ceremony, it allows us to capture some very unique and special moments. This balcony lookout is one of our favorite spots at The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel. The venue sits atop a cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has a spectacular view. A photo like this requires special lighting. In this case, we used a 500 watt, self contained Profoto B1 and a shoot-through deep umbrella. I used a very wide-angle lens (Nikkor 14-24 zoom lens at nearly 14 mm) while our assistant held the off camera light, very close to the couple, just to the side. With the camera settings, the sun becomes a beautiful starburst. It’s almost magical how the sunlight sparkles in the sky and gently falls on their romantic kiss. A large, off camera flash is needed in these types of images to be able to expose the couple correctly, not silueted, and still have a deep blue sky. We literally have to match the sun.

The sapphire hues in the sky and ocean make a gorgeous background and really highlight the couple. The sunspots or lens flare give the overall photo a very photojournalistic feeling. Lens flare is tricky to work with because you can accidentally have the flare cover important parts of the image if one is not careful. In this case, there were only a few small lens flare artifacts that did not distract from the overall image.

In the “Don’t Try This At Home” Department; taking a photo, while looking at the bright sun through the camera is not a good idea. It can cause serious damage to your eyes. Especially if the sun is still high in the sky, and particularly with a telephoto lens that magnifies the sun. Here, I was using a wide angle, and, focused on the couple while keeping the sun behind the groom’s head to avoid looking at it directly. I took several shots like that, and they looked good, then I took several others using the same technique, but, at the last moment I took my eye away from the viewfinder and got just a little bit higher to get the sun in the shot, “guestimating” how much to move the camera. Out of several tries, this one was exactly what I was looking for.

The Ritz Carlton is located in Dana Point, California.

Location: 1 Ritz Carlton Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629.