How to balance flash with ambient light

Aug 6, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

How to balance flash with ambient light

Aug 6, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bmf1D-rc9is

We’ve had a few tutorials showing how to balance strobes and ambient light. Usually we focus on a how the exposure work, adding a strobe, and then knocking 2 stops off the exposure.

In this video Manny Ortiz, does it all without dealing with calculating exposure. (Manny is also not using a light meter). Instead, Manny works his way through chimping the camera, which (at least for one light) may be a faster process.

Manny uses a Sony A7rII and a 85mm f/1.4 lens. The strobe is a Flashpoint Xplor 600 (which is Adorama’s brand for the Godox AD600).

Step 1: turn the flash off and the camera to manual. Measure for the ambient and drop a stop (for a cool look) or two (for a more dramatic look). When you lower the exposure do it by increasing the shutter speed. If you change the aperture, this will impact the flash output.

Step 2: turn the flash on and take a first photo. Then start with a low flash settings and slowly increase the flash power till you have the subject at the right exposure.

Here is our usual comparisson:

This is possible since the AD600 supports HSS which allows it to shoot at very high shutter speeds. If you are using a strobe/camera that do not support HSS, you knock the exposure down by closing the aperture. You would lose both the great bokeh and will have to set the flash to use more power. (aperture impacts both ambient and flash)

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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4 responses to “How to balance flash with ambient light”

  1. stewart norton Avatar
    stewart norton

    Was white balance adjusted or gel used ? After image is much warmer.

    1. Bundeskanzlerin Avatar
      Bundeskanzlerin

      It was probably adjusted by camera.. The WB was set to Auto (according to the screen of A7RII)

  2. Cedric Avatar
    Cedric

    I understand the point about underexposing the ambient, but how do you know that the model’s exposure is properly balanced without checking the image on your screen ? The histogram will give you a lot of information about your global picture (mostly background), but not as much about your model as it takes only little space in your image.

  3. Andy Avatar
    Andy

    Step 2: turn the flash on and take a first photo. Then
    start with a low flash settings and slowly increase the flash power till
    you have the subject at the right exposure.
    Are you serious??? What a waste of time and battery power.