Love in a State of Emergency

by Dina Douglass

Dina Douglass

July 01, 2011 — My clients Flor and Jerome decided to get married in Flor’s hometown of Quito, Ecuador. As they started to plan their wedding they couldn’t have possibly known there’d be a coup attempt two weeks before it was to take place. Conflicting media reports stated President Rafael Correa was temporarily kidnapped, and that the “coup” was merely a police strike or rebellion.

By the time we landed in Quito, the president was safely in his palace, but an extended a state of emergency was put into place indefinitely. The streets were teeming with armed soldiers.

“Love in a State of Emergency” was taken during our day after session. My second shooter, Yoshi Morimoto, and I spotted two soldiers near the Presidential Palace holding automatic weapons. Our first thought was that it would be fantastic to shoot the couple with the soldiers. I asked Flor and Jerome if they thought the soldiers would let us photograph them, so Flor fearlessly approached and asked them if we could take a photo. The soldiers nodded “yes,” but this particular soldier’s hardened gaze captured all of my attention before taking the photo.
I directed the couple to look at each other and smile, and then snapped a few frames before the soldier nodded as though he was saying “that’s enough,” prompting us to move on. I couldn’t stop thinking about this image for the rest of the day, and couldn’t wait to get home to work on it.

An extensive amount of Photoshop was done to this image, mostly to bring out the details and create a mood. Bringing out the detail in the bulletproof vest and machine gun were of primary importance to me I also wanted to accentuate the expression on the soldier’s face.

I started by bringing up the detail in the blacks to make sure that they didn’t block-up when I worked on the contrast. To achieve this I used a layer set to screen at 100%, then used a layer mask to paint back in the areas I wanted to stay normal. This helped lighten the dark areas so I could retain detail.

I then added another layer, set it to multiply and masked out the areas I didn’t want to darken. I then added a third layer and repeated this process (multiply then mask). I used LucisArt to highlight some of the detail in the bulletproof vest and machine gun, then masked out the areas that I didn’t want to have as much detail. Finally, I used the Color Stylizer in Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro and then backed it off by dialing down the opacity.

It took several hours to beat this image into submission. The final result looks almost like a composite, but it is shown here exactly as it was shot. I love the juxtaposition of the soldier’s gaze alongside the couples’ expressions of post-wedding joy.

• Body: Canon 5D
• Lens: 70–200 f/2.8
• Exposure: 1/200 at f/6.3, ISO 640
• Software: LucisArt, Color Stylizer in Nik Software’s
• Color Efex Pro

Dina Douglass (Andrena Photography) is a photographer in Los Angeles. Her work with multicultural and destination wedding clients has been published all over the world. Dina was named one of the Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World by American Photo magazine for the May/June 2011 issue. She is also a moderator of the Digital Wedding Forum. See more of Dina’s work at

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