How to Balance Off-Camera Flash and Ambient Light on Location


In this Adorama TV video Gavin Hoey takes you on location to learn how to balance flash and ambient light to create some stunning portraits in the forest.

After going through three different setups outdoors he takes you inside for the post-processing stage so see how he completes the images in Photoshop.

Some of the items Gavin used and demonstrated in the video for your convenience:

You can get the free light ray brushes he mentions in the video here.

In Practice

Have you tried any location portraits using both the natural or ambient light combined with flash? If you have any other tips or want to share your images, please do so in the comments below.

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Darlene Hildebrandt is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles on her site Digital Photo Mentor, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Morocco and India. To help you at whatever level you're at she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!

  • Love bokeh from C 70-200.. 🙂
    Nice Work Gavin! 🙂

  • Love bokeh from C 70-200.. 🙂
    Nice Work Gavin! 🙂

  • Keith Starkey

    Having never shot with flash, my mind says, “Gee, if f/4 under exposes the background, than it would also under expose the model” (being the same as the ambient light), but apparently that’s not the case. I really can’t wait to get an off-camera flash system.

  • brooke6241

    I­­­­t­­’­s b­e­e­n t­­­h­­­­ree mont­­­­­­­hs sinc­­e I q­­uit­­­­ted
    m­y la­­s­­­­­t j­­­o­b a­­­n­­­d n­­o­w I g­­e­t pa­­i­d 9­­­5
    do­­­ll­­ar­s a­­­n ho­­u­r…H­­­­o­w
    I d­i­d i­­­­­­t? I­’­m fr­eel­­­ancin­­­­g on­­­lin­­e! M­y
    pr­e­­v­i­­­­­­­ous jo­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­b w­­­­­­as
    a­­­­wf­­­­­­­­ul s­­­­­­­­­o I d­­­­­­­­­eci­­­­­­ded t­­­­o t­­­r­y
    so­­­meth­­­i­ng fr­­­e­­­s­h… A­­­­f­t­e­r 6 y­­­r­s I­­t w­­as
    h­­ar­­d t­­­o le­­­ave m­y o­­ld j­­­­­­­­­­­­o­b bu­­­t n­­­­­­ow I
    a­m del­­­igh­ted we­­­r­e i am
    CH­EC­­­­K O­­­UT WH­A­T I D­­O HE­R­E

  • David

    Having never used a flash meter, I was unsure as to how he got his reading when he put the meter under the model’s chin. Did he somehow fire the flash? If he did, it was difficult to notice. Is that what he did?

  • Kevin_Block

    Yes he triggered the flash – the video has a hard time picking up the flash, sometimes you can see it barely. I believe he used the trigger he had in the hotshoe (hit a button on it – watch his other hand as he takes the reading) Some light meters have a built in trigger (Sekonic 478DR), but I don;t think the 308 he was using does.

  • David

    Thanks, that helps.

  • BayAreaBiker

    I’d rather watch the video on Adorama’s site (which I did way before it was posted here) and thumb it up there.

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