Location Portrait Lighting Techniques with Flash & Ambient

An overcast sky is often considered the best kind of lighting for portraits. Not only does it provide a soft and even light source, but it allows you the ability to set your camera settings and fire away. To understand a little more about the pros and cons of ambient light versus flash in portrait photography, freelance photographer  Gavin Hoey shares his experience:

Flash has come a long way in portrait photography, and it can easily make a case for itself in a head-to-head match-up against ambient lighting. Modern day flashes are smaller, faster, and more powerful and portable than ever before. With these vast upgrades, flashes can provide more control over your light source and the ability to add even more dramatics to your images.

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Olympus E-M5ii, f/8, 1/100 of a second, ISO400, 15 mm

Like with most photography accessories, with the good also comes the bad. While flashes do provide more control and unique elements to your lighting, it can be harder to move around during your shoot. To continue your lighting setup you will not only need to move the equipment but also re-meter and/or take more test shots before you can continue on.

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Ambient Lighting Portrait versus Flash Portrait

While ambient lighting may be free, there are some drawbacks to this lighting style. First and foremost, the type of lighting depends upon the weather. While you can change where you place your subject, the actual direction of the light is out of your control. Although you can maneuver around it, you will not be able to control the actual lighting element.

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