How to balance natural light and a strobe when shooting outdoor portraits


posted Monday, June 24, 2019 at 7:00 PM EDT


When shooting portraits in bright sunlight, there are numerous ways you can make the light less harsh on your subject. You may like the overall light in the scene, but perhaps the light on your subject's face doesn't work well. In the video below, photographer Sean Tucker uses his Godox AD200 strobe to control the light hitting his subject while also utilizing and complementing the available natural light in the overall scene.

To shoot in bright ambient light, you are often working with fast shutter speeds, which means that you must use high-speed sync to be able to sync your strobe with the camera's fast shutter speed. Tucker is shooting with the Sony A7 Mark III and a Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 prime lens. Tucker is firing his AD200 flash using a wireless trigger, which is enabled with high-speed sync, and using a SoftLighter umbrella to help soften the light from the strobe.

As you can see in the video below, given the ambient light conditions, if Tucker exposes the photo for the subject's face, while she is well-exposed, the background is blown out. On the other hand, by exposing for the background and then adding a strobe to light the subject's face, the entire scene can be well-balanced. The trick is to dial in the right power for the strobe to perfectly complement the natural light in the background. To see how Tucker does this, watch the full video below.

(Via Sean Tucker