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Balancing flash and window light

From: Foundations of Photography: Flash

Video: Balancing flash and window light

When you first start using a flash. Just a straight hand and shoulders.

Balancing flash and window light

When you first start using a flash. It's really ease to fall into, this is great I have got a flash. I can really just do all the lighting that I need with my flash. And while the flash is a really valuable tool. It's the rare flash shot that's going to better than our really nice window light, particularly a nice window light like this. This window's covered with diffusion, it's creating this beautiful soft light in here. When you walk into a situation where there's already a light source, rather than ignoring it and jumping right into using your flash, it's a good idea to start by looking at the scene, seeing what light is there and seeing if flash is necessary.

What it could add to the scene, What it could take away from the scene. How you might mix it with normal light. I need to shoot a picture of Ashley here. In a, kind of more office corporate environment. And walking into this room the real dominant feature are these beautiful soft light windows. So I want to start by using this light source. I'm going to try and use this as my key light here. So shooting her in profile like this. I've got all this light coming through the windows. Nice soft light hitting her face. She actually looks great like this.

Let's just try a shot without any flash at all. Just a straight hand and shoulders. Ew, that was an awfully slow shutter speed. Let me crank up my ISO here. I go up to ISO 800 which this camera can handle pretty well. That gives me an 80th of a second, I can actually go down a stop and be at 50th. She looks pretty great in this light just as it is. Her left side could possibly use a little bit of fill, maybe not. It might be that that's I'm getting that nice modeling by lighting up just one side of her face. I'm going to put my flash back on the camera, and just go for a straight fill light.

I don't think I even need the soft box. I'm going to take that off. In program mode, I'm just going to let the camera do its thing here. I'm going to let it meter it all out. And I get this. It has added some fill. It's added a little too much. Look at the bright highlight. On her forehead and on her nose. I'm going to use my flash exposure compensation, I'm going to go down a whole stop. And I get this, so that's very nice. In fact, let's just do a couple more. Yeah, there we go. So, I've got window light as key light. And my external flash as fill. I've got a two light setup and I only had to bring a single flash.

Again, it's very important before you go blitzkrieging the room with your own flash. To pay attention to light that's already there. Now. Maybe for whatever that I actually can't think of right now. I decide that I need the key light over here. I could choose to use the window light as fill if I want if I had a brighter light over here. And, one reason might be if I was to go a little bit wider. Maybe I wanted the computers in the shot. I wanted the general orientation of the scene to be more like this. Let's try moving the key light over here.

Now I can't move the windows. I could take all of the furniture and move it to this side of the room and have her face that way. But, I'm just not going to do that. Normally I would. But, we're running short on time. So, I'm going to grab my off camera sync cord. And I'm going to position my flash over here. And try to get it working as a key light. I'm still in program mode. I'm going to contort myself up here. I need to go a little bit wider. I don't want to go too wide because I'm close enough to her that I, I don't want to get any distortion on her face.

And I end up with this. Couple things going on here. I'm, I'm getting more something like fill light. I, I'd like to have a little more light on the left side of her face than I have on the right. I would like to have a little bit of shadow casting that way, that means I need to overpower the ambient light. I need to overpower this window light. So, I'm going to simply dial up my flash exposure compensation. And see if I can get a brighter flash. There we go.

Now, I plainly got the key light on her left. The right side of her face in our image. And the window light is serving as fill. So I've managed to use my flash in two different ways, just by changing its intensity and its position.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Flash
Foundations of Photography: Flash

40 video lessons · 17240 viewers

Ben Long

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  1. 1m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 35s
  2. 33m 1s
    1. Exposure revisited
      2m 22s
    2. How flash works
      2m 12s
    3. Balancing ambient light and flash
      3m 54s
    4. Shutter speed, aperture, and flash
      4m 11s
    5. Fill and key light with flash
      4m 13s
    6. Understanding flash range
      2m 47s
    7. Understanding flash modes
      5m 16s
    8. Flash sync options
      3m 2s
    9. Some notes about your camera's built-in flash
      5m 4s
  3. 32m 50s
    1. When to use fill flash
      1m 39s
    2. Using fill flash in auto and program modes
      2m 44s
    3. Fill flash in priority or manual modes
      2m 38s
    4. Using flash exposure compensation
      9m 14s
    5. Using fill flash to eliminate unwanted shadows
      5m 46s
    6. Using fill flash to darken a background
      5m 1s
    7. Using flash to supplement ambient light
      3m 48s
    8. Filling in for a bright sunset
      2m 0s
  4. 33m 53s
    1. Shooting a portrait with flash as the key light
      4m 27s
    2. Why use an external flash?
      3m 34s
    3. Flash power and recharging times
      4m 21s
    4. Flash zoom
      1m 45s
    5. Taking the flash off camera
      5m 35s
    6. Using a softbox
      5m 3s
    7. Balancing flash and window light
      4m 22s
    8. Paying attention to the light in the room
      3m 39s
    9. Flash and white balance
      1m 7s
  5. 54m 20s
    1. Bouncing flash to improve lighting
      13m 8s
    2. Alternative options for bouncing flash
      5m 12s
    3. Using slow sync with flash
      8m 50s
    4. Rear-curtain sync
      11m 54s
    5. Using radio controls to fire a flash
      4m 32s
    6. Working with manual flash
      10m 44s
  6. 25m 16s
    1. Building up to multiple flash units
      13m 3s
    2. Adding the second flash for fill
      5m 19s
    3. The third flash as a backlight
      6m 54s
  7. 7m 50s
    1. Which brand of flash should you buy?
      1m 27s
    2. Guide number considerations
      3m 13s
    3. Shopping recommendations
      3m 10s
  8. 42s
    1. Next steps

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