Home · Register · Search · View Winners · Software · Hosting · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username   Password

  New fredmiranda.com Mobile Site
  

FM Forums | Lighting & Studio Techniques | Join Upload & Sell

  

Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?
  
 
StanNJ1
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #1 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


Recently I posted an example of an outdoor portrait that I shot using Canon speedlights and I received different opinions on whether using artificial lighting in a natural setting made any sense. Personally I don't mind the look nor do I think that it is always practical to use only natural light.

Yes I know......there are some really beautiful images out there using all natural lighting. But then again there are many natural light portraits that look too flat for my taste. Certainly I'm not the only one that uses the strobe method as speedlights and battery operated studio strobes are very popular.

So I'm curious about your opinions on mixing artificial lighting in an outdoor setting

Shot with two Canon 600 EX-RTs with ST-E3







Sep 08, 2013 at 07:30 PM
dmacmillan
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #2 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


Stan,

My preference over the years has been for natural light with reflectors and flags to help. This requires being able to select location and time of day.

However, when I was a professional shooting Senior portraits, sheer volume required using OCF. This was back in the film days and I had to shoot medium format with a leaf shutter to balance flash and ambient.

It's a matter of taste and execution. I'd rather see a well executed OCF than a poorly executed natural light. I like your image above. From the photos in the other thread it looked like it was a drab, drizzly day. It would be very hard to get any snap to a naturally lit image under those circumstances.

You also mentioned Lisa Holloway elsewhere. We have to consider where the "lighting" is taking place. If you've seen some of her before and afters, you'll know that a lot of the quality of her images comes from her post processing, which I think is excellent. On some of her images, there's a lot more than just a few tweaks applied.



Sep 08, 2013 at 08:28 PM
RustyBug
Online
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #3 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


+1 @ Doug ... "command and control"

Ambient light has a tremendously wide range of both quality (diffuse/specular) and color (warm/cool) that can be encountered on any given day. Images that are flat and of poor color balance makes little difference whether or not it was natural ambient or not ... they are still flat and poorly balanced. Conversely, OCF that is harsh and not balanced to the ambient can look just as poor, just in a different way.

Whether you use ambient alone or OCF ... it is all about your ability to have "command and control" to achieve your goals for the image. If you've achieved your goals with the finesse of a craftsman, that presents your subject well ... which tools you use/don't use are of little consequence.

There's neither special glory, nor inferiority in shooting ambient only or OCF. Having the ability to contend with the challenges of ambient with the tools of your choosing to produce the works of your vision are all that really matter. Some folks use a scalpel, others use a chisel ... both can be very sharp tools in capably skilled hands, or hack things up if one doesn't know where to make the cut.

The one thing about OCF though is its consistency ... or in the case of an ambient location like Lisa's, she has highly predictable ambient, so that can certainly help one achieve a degree of command and control as well.




Sep 08, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Micky Bill
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #4 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


The outdoor with strobe style can look dated, it has a 1990 magazine/celebrity/fashion feel
Back then it was obviously a look as it was often 1/2 or 1 stop brighter than the ambient to make the subject pop.
Today's style is more natural looking, IMO.



Sep 08, 2013 at 09:58 PM
StanNJ1
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #5 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


By the way if anyone has some outdoor portraits with artificial lighting please post them here


Sep 09, 2013 at 12:25 AM
benee
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #6 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


Check out some of Tim Park's portraits as well. He does a really nice job making strobes look "natural." His work very subtly balances ambient and strobe.


Sep 09, 2013 at 01:09 AM
StanNJ1
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #7 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


benee wrote:
Check out some of Tim Park's portraits as well. He does a really nice job making strobes look "natural." His work very subtly balances ambient and strobe.

Where would I find Tim Park?



Sep 09, 2013 at 01:50 AM
benee
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #8 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


^^^ he posts on FM on occasion..

http://www.timparkphotography.com/index2.php

P.S - I like the lighting on your example shot. I normally prefer natural light, but your strobe in the example is well done!



Sep 09, 2013 at 01:57 AM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



Lisa_Holloway
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #9 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


Hi Stan,

I normally prefer 100% natural light only in a natural, outdoor setting, but there are a few occasions where I am going for more drama than natural light can give me and I will use my OCF for that. When I do use OCF, I think it's fairly obvious that I have done so as that is the look I'm going for. Otherwise, I prefer the simplicity of using ambient - less equipment to drag around and much more freedom IMO.

A few examples of my OCF work outdoors (all done with a simple speedlight and white umbrella)...








Sep 09, 2013 at 04:09 AM
Mark_L
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #10 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


For me, lighting needs to make sense and the common obviously flashed ‘stobist’ look on location tends to look amateurish and dated. You’ll almost ever see it in good fashion magazines or the like.

For lighting, watch some good movies – those guys are well ahead of most of us photographers in the lighting stakes. No matter how much artificial light is used is makes sense, looks appropriate and they realise sometimes ‘imperfect’ light works better to give the right feel.

I try to use natural light unmodified where possible because it looks natural and tend to use flash mostly on overcast days where the light often lacks direction. Even 1/3rd of a stop of flash makes a massive difference: gets some more light into the eyes, some form and slightly picks the subject out from the scene and I rarely use more.

Ideally I want to make it look like to someone I didn’t use any additional lighting at all even if I used lots. I was most pleased with an interior I shot: one frame had a bare profoto strobe at full power and the other was only natural light – the two pictures sat together in the brochure perfectly.



Sep 09, 2013 at 12:26 PM
jeremy_clay
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #11 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


Completely depends - though I agree, if you're going to do it, try and go beyond the obvious 'it's dynamic because it's light - outdoors! The bg is dark but the subjects aren't!' look. For your portrait, I think shooting a natural light would have been more appropriate and aesthetically pleasing. Then again, certain times call for strobe(s), and can really seperate your work and further your artistic vision; it really comes down to execution and really that is why so many are constantly pursuing that OCF mastery. In a few shots below, OCF actually makes outdoor, 'open' areas (like the girl in the door) look enclosed; when done correctly OCF can just give you more options then the 'strobist' dated look as mentioned above.

So, lot of blather to say it's situation and user dependant; with experience and style development, you learn more and more when is best to strobe (or not!)

































Sep 09, 2013 at 02:36 PM
pr4photos
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #12 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


I'm all for OCF. I don't think it has a dated look at all - its all about how its executed


Sep 09, 2013 at 04:30 PM
cordellwillis
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #13 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


pr4photos wrote:
I'm all for OCF. I don't think it has a dated look at all - its all about how its executed


+1

How can it be dated when or if you need the additional light?



Sep 09, 2013 at 05:11 PM
jeremy_clay
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #14 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


cordellwillis wrote:
+1

How can it be dated when or if you need the additional light?


I think we all know the look in question - a hard, poorly diffused speed lite creating ugly shadows on a subject just because.



Sep 09, 2013 at 06:46 PM
RustyBug
Online
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #15 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


jeremy_clay wrote:
I think we all know the look in question - a hard, poorly diffused speed lite creating ugly shadows on a subject just because.

That and the "overpower the sun" look even if it is a more diffuse quality.

Classic lighting is timeless. Trendy things that are in vogue for a while then tend to get dated a bit more readily and its either back to the classics or on to strive for a new, new look, once the novelty becomes more commonplace.



Sep 09, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Mark_L
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #16 · Outdoor Portraits-Strobes vs. Natural Light?


jeremy_clay wrote:
I think we all know the look in question - a hard, poorly diffused speed lite creating ugly shadows on a subject just because.


Yup. I think like HDR and other effects it looks dramatic so people are drawn to it which is why forums are full of 'overpower the sun' threads. I have a dislike of overlit shots but it is all preference. Taste and restraint is everything.



Sep 09, 2013 at 08:22 PM





FM Forums | Lighting & Studio Techniques | Join Upload & Sell

    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username   Password    Retrive password