Last Friday I found myself in the cellar with Courtney and Darrin. To be more specific, in the wine cellar of Hermannhof Vineyards in Hermann, MO for a couple wedding day portraits.
Frankly, I was excited. We were in a location with tons of character and the potential for some dynamic lighting, but I also knew I’d have to supply the lighting myself. After all, it’s a dark cellar with just a couple overhead bulbs that aren’t exactly flattering.
Let’s see what we have to work with first. This first flat shot shows the general layout (as well as the couple taking a minute and hanging out). We were in a brick and stone room with a short arched tunnel running directly to the side and into another room filled with wine barrels. All around were the general tools of the trade, but nothing that we really want in the photo. Seriously, what’s with the Swiss cheese panel?
So let’s think about a plan. First I need to light our happy couple and the main room. Let’s pull the flash off the camera and put it to the side for a bit of depth and direction. Easy. I colored the flash with an orange gel to create a warm light and asked my invaluable second photographer, Carol, to hold it in place.
Next, I love the arched tunnel directly behind our happy couple. In fact, that’s why I put them in that spot. But it just disappears into darkness. So I put another flash, also warm gelled, on the floor and fired it upward to light the interior of the tunnel.
It took just a couple shots to dial everything in, but once we got there… Bang! We’ve got some killer ambiance for a portrait in the cellar. Because the light was so controlled, we’re able to let the clutter mostly disappear in shadow and focus on our couple.