Tips for Bringing Artificial Photo Lighting Outdoors

Despite the power light has over an image, many photographers are a bit hesitant to work with artificial sources. After all, it’s much easier and less intimidating to simply use what the sun has to offer. And often times, available light on its own is beautiful. However, as photographer Gavin Hoey from Adorama explains, playing it safe won’t often grab a viewer’s attention for more than a moment or two:

Just because you have enough light to get everything exposed doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t benefit from bringing in more light. The more light sources in play, the more flexibility the photographer has in lighting specific areas within a photograph.

In Hoey’s shoot, he exposes the foreground and background separately. First, he purposely sets his camera to slightly underexpose the ambient light.

From there, he uses a light meter to determine how much power his flash should put out. That way, the areas closest to the light source (the model in the foreground) will be properly exposed. By thinking about his picture in different parts, he’s able to create a much more dynamic end product.

ambient light vs artificial light

Bringing in artificial lights can also help in getting your images closer to perfect in-camera. Of course, if you only have access to one or two flashes, you’ll have to make some tweaks in Photoshop. However, you’ll likely be able to make the adjustments necessary using the brush tool on a few select spots. When you don’t have to make major changes to tones and exposures, you save tons of time in post-production.

There’s no denying that trying something new can be scary. But the long-term benefits of learning how to work with light are well worth the effort.

“I have one goal in mind, and that’s to make the light I add better than the light that’s already there.”

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