How to Balance Ambient Light & Flash for Better Outdoor Portraits (VIDEO)

One often overlooked technique for improving outdoor photographs is using a your camera’s built-in flash or a more powerful external unit for filling in shadows, adding sparkle to a subject’s eyes and much more. If you think this requires complicated camera and flash settings, read on.

In the quick tutorial below from AdoramaTV, NY celebrity photographer David Bergman takes the mystery out of outdoor flash photography by explaining how to balance ambient light and flash when shooting outside during the day. And there’s really nothing tricky about it.

Bergman says that whether the ambient light is from direct sun or an overcast sky, there two primary reasons why using flash will greatly improve your results.  The first is image quality. And that’s because when shooting outdoors without supplemental light, you’re “kind of stuck with what’s there.” Another good reason for using flash is that you’ll be able to control the quantity as well as the quality of illumination.

Overall, by adding a bit of flash to your images you’ll enjoy many of the benefits of high-quality studio photography while still having the outdoor environment as your backdrop. And you’ll see how flash will not only affect the light falling on your subject, but can also change the brightness of the background.

There are a variety of appropriate lights and modifiers available, from simple-and-affordable shoe-mount units to more advanced options, and Bergman will help you make the right choice for your needs. He provides a variety of simple tips for whatever equipment you use, and he lists his preferred gear in the description below the video.

So pay attention to the simple techniques in the tutorial, and give a big boost to your outdoor portraits. There’s much more to learn on the AdoramaTV YouTube channel, and in another helpful video we posted explaining how to create a simple natural light studio in your garage.