The trick in outdoor flash photography is that you need to balance your strobe light with the available light. So basically you will be working with (at least) 2 exposures: your flash exposure, and the camera’s exposure.
Now, since we cannot control the light coming from the sun, we need to adjust our camera exposure to it, for correct background illumination.

Take Advantage of Each Light Source

In many cases, the magic of a nice picture is based on what you will use lights and take advantage of them. So even if you don’t have a big material bag, only with some creativity, you will be able to create the magic!



Creating the Magic

The trick in outdoor flash photography is that you need to balance your strobe light with the available light. So basically you will be working with (at least) 2 exposures: your flash exposure, and the camera’s exposure.

Now, since we cannot control the light coming from the sun, we need to adjust our camera exposure to it, for correct background illumination. Once we’ve set our camera to match the available light, all we have to do is adjust our strobe light to match our camera settings to get a correct fill light.

It’s important to keep in mind that since you cannot control the available light on-location, make it a habit to shoot at times when the sunlight is at its best. This is when the sun is low in the sky, which would be about 15 minutes before till after sunrise, and 15 minutes before till after sunset (otherwise known as the golden hour).

Most professional photographers prefer to shoot during the golden hour because, if you choose to shoot during the day when the sun is high in the sky, you will get harsh shadows and high contrast scenes which would make it difficult for you and your camera to capture soft, even exposures.

If you’re bound by a certain time and the sunlight is not working in your favor, you can always shoot in the shade. Try underneath some trees, next to a building, or any other location with soft diffused light.

Since you are shooting with your studio strobe, you will have to pay close attention to your shutter speed. You won’t be able to set your camera’s shutter speed to one that is higher than your flash sync speed. That is because, if you do, you’ll end up with photos with dark areas.

Most cameras have a flash sync speed of 1/200s or 1/250s (refer to your camera manual to learn yours), so your camera’s shutter speed cannot go any faster than that if you’re planning to shoot with a flash.

Tips by Nicolas FACQ

Outdoor flash photography is a very interesting area to explore and once you get the hang of it, it can yield amazing professional results that you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise.

One thing you need to remember is, practice makes perfect. You need to experiment with lighting and subject positioning to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Once you find what suits you best, you will be on the road to creating great photos.
Finally, creativity is the main key to start with strobist photography … with time, you will find more way to diffuse light, accessories, preferences,and find your own style !

painami@gmail.com'

Posted by Nicolas FACQ

French photographer specialized in portraits and landscapes

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