Use Speedlights to overpower direct sunlight for dramatic results with an affordable outdoor lighting set-up
When you shoot portraits purely with natural light, you’re usually restricted to one ‘correct’ exposure. But when you start to mix natural light with flash, you can manipulate the exposure to suit your artistic needs (see page 36). Any time that you work with two different light sources, the key is all about the ratio between the two. You can’t control the power of the sun, for example, but you can change your Speedlight power to alter the ratio between the two – as we’ve shown in our image (right) by overpowering the midday sun for a moody portrait.
Notice how the boy’s hair has the look of a studio portrait, with a nice hair light to bring out detail and texture. But this is, in fact, sunlight. With the boy posed with his back to the sun, the natural light hits his hair, making it shine. By under-exposing the natural light, we effectively transform the sun into our secondary light source. Then we simply lift the exposure of the face with our flash. Here’s how you can achieve similar results in a few simple steps, with the help of an off-camera flashgun and the sun…
Light from a Speedlight will almost always look better when it’s diffused with a modifier such as an umbrella, or bounced off a wall