The Challenge of Working with Mixed Indoor/Outdoor Photography Lighting

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When shooting without flash, you try to use the light in your environment that works best. When shooting with flash, you often shoot inside and focus on altering the lights pointed at your subject. But often we forget that you can use the environment to help create a natural look with artificial light. In this tutorial, photographer Bruce Dorn shows how to use your environment to your advantage when using strobes:

Though Dorn throws out a lot of photography jargon, his premise is simple: Don’t ignore your environment. In his first setup, he uses the sun shining through the windows as a strong backlight, and his strobes as a fill light. In his second setup, he uses a single flash to bounce off a large piece of unbleached muslin. While you may not have this same gear, Dorn says you can just as easily bounce the flash off the wall or use a bedsheet.

balancing sunglight and artifical light

Balancing sunlight and strobe lights can give you great natural results

In his third setup, Dorn uses some cheap plastic hooks to attach his flashes to the wall and bounce the light off the ceiling. Placing one light on each wall, Dorn is able to have a great amount of control over the look of his photos.

enviromental lighting diagram

Strobes hung on the wall pointing at the ceiling in the four cardinal directions gives Dorn a lot of control over the lighting

Again, you may not have four strobes to be able to replicate Dorn’s specific technique, but the point is to make the most out of your surrounding environment and use it to your advantage when shooting.

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