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I think more than anything in the instances I am thinking about, I want the light somewhat balanced for a natural look. I do try to avoid harsh lighting though sometimes I have seen some images that look quite amazing where I think the strobe is a touch stronger than the ambient. I know I need to play around, but I just wanted to get some ideas. I was thinking that I went with something like 1.5 stops over ambient, but like I said, all of my notes were on another forum which has gone by the wayside. ...oh,...Show more →
That narrows things done nicely. Here's how I do it; it might be different than the way the other person did it, but it should give you similar results:
Using the meter in incident mode with the dome (if it has one) extended, face the meter toward the sun and take a reading. Let's say for this example it's f/5.6.
Now, decide if you want the backlight to be a little brighter, a little darker, or the same as your main light. I usually go for a little lighter when the sun is acting as a backlight rather than fill.
So, in this case I'll want to expose my subject somewhere between f/4 and f/5.6. So I face the meter's dome toward my main light and take a reading, then adjust the light's power up or down until it reads f/4 (or whatever). If I only have one light, I'm done. If I have a fill light then I'll meter it, and I'd probably want it a stop or more dimmer than the main light, so f/2.8 or less.
In this situation, the sun would create a rim light or hair light that would be brighter than the hair lit by the main light.
If I wanted a different look -- one with a bit more pop to the subject, but not obviously flash lit -- I'd go the other way, and make my main light a bit brighter than the sunlit exposure. So, using f/5.6 for the ambient again, I'd set my main light somewhere between f/5.6 and f/8. For even more pop I might go as high as f/11.
In either of the above cases, I'd set my camera's aperture to whatever f-stop the main light was set for, and my shutter speed midway between sync speed and whatever minimum speed I could use (based on subject motion, camera shake, etc.). Oh, and you need to have that shutter speed dialed into the meter before you start taking readings.
By having the shutter set at the mid point, I could refine the ambient exposure a bit lighter or a bit darker as needed by adjusting the shutter speed, which would have no effect on the flash exposure.
As I say, this is only one way of doing it, but it has worked for me.