Mixing Strobes & Natural Light

Discussion in 'Portrait' started by storyteller, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    322
    Sep 25, 2011
    I apologize if there is already a thread like this that I missed. I thought a thread for sharing pictures that mix strobes and natural light would fun. This is my current obsession with portraits. I'll start us off my sharing a picture I took during a photoshoot with my nieces and nephews over the holiday weekend.

    19457238971_f4861e0482_z. Day 186 — Sisters by joel richards, on Flickr
     
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  2. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    Lovely results
     
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  3. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    322
    Sep 25, 2011
    Thanks davect01!
     
  4. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    Indeed! Beautiful portrait. The strobe and natural light appears seamless.
     
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  5. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    322
    Sep 25, 2011
    Thanks WNG! Please feel free to contribute your own. Also, I love your "location" ;)
     
  6. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    I'll echo that ;)
     
  7. dmward

    dmward TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Mar 21, 2015
    Metro Chicago
    David
    Nice picture. One benefit of strobes and natural light is the close color temp.
    Especially when the subject is in open shade. Makes it a snap to add warmth.
    As you've illustrated, a key is balancing the two so neither dominates the visual lighting on the subject.
    My objective, if using it for fill is to keep is near enough to the lens axis as to minimize new shadow structure while filling those created by by the ambient. Or, use the strobe as dominate light with the ambient as fill. The second approach just about guarantees that the subject is in open shade.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
  8. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    322
    Sep 25, 2011
    Those are some great succinct guidelines. Any examples you care to share?
     
  9. dmward

    dmward TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Mar 21, 2015
    Metro Chicago
    David
    If you go here: http://dmwfotos.com/weddings/galleries.php
    All the galleries here contain images that are a mix of ambient and flash. There are some that are only ambient.
    The guidelines are a summary of what I've learned over the years shooting a variety of subjects.
    You can also wander around to some of the portrait galleries. Here for example http://dmwfotos.com/galleries/people/ The outdoor session combined a 600Ws strobe and decreasing ambient as the sun set. The kids and actress were only strobes. My objective was to make them look natural rather than "lit".

    Even with architecture there are situations calling for mixing ambient and strobe: The twilight shots in Hawthorn, the Bank are composites of about 30 images, most with a speedlite to illuminate a specific feature. And ambient for the twilight.
    http://dmwfotos.com/architecture/galleries.php
     
  10. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    322
    Sep 25, 2011
    A lot of great shots in there. I especially liked the family portraits. I assume your strobe was fairly close to the camera and in a large softbox? The light sources mix well and the ambient is taken down in a subtle way that really draws the eye.
     
  11. dmward

    dmward TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Mar 21, 2015
    Metro Chicago
    David
    Thanks.
    The family portraits were done with a mid-sized PLM with a diffusion silk on it. Essentially a big softbox. When I do groups (more than one) I keep the light within about 20* of the lens axis to minimize the potential for shadows falling onto an adjacent face. The exception in the outdoor portraits was the image of the couple standing by their pool. The light was about 30 feet away and about 45* because of the pool.
    I try to get the strobe, if its the main, to be about 1EV over the ambient. That gives me options in processing.
    If I'm using the strobe for fill, my objective is to make sure there is no shadow attributable to the fill. That usually means keeping it quite close to the lens axis.
     
  12. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    322
    Sep 25, 2011
    I've done a few group shots and quickly settled on a similar approach. Reassuring to hear it from someone with more experience. Thanks!
     
  13. dmward

    dmward TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Mar 21, 2015
    Metro Chicago
    David
    As photographers we have a tendency to look at light, shadows, and think its too flat or to harsh.
    What I've found is that people, especially when its a "formal" portrait session are most interested in looking good. Being able to see themselves as they want others to see them.

    Naturally, if they see that they also like lighting and composition that adds aesthetic value.
    If you processed two images exactly the same way, one with the subject projecting their personality in a positive and meaningful way, and the other where they were projecting uncomplimentary personality traits, even if the second were the better technical and artistic image, they would strongly prefer the first.

    All this is to confirm, that my approach is to first find a way to capture the person, then look for a way to enhance the aesthetics with lighting.
     
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