on-location lighting techniques

lighting for on-location photo sessions – pick your battles

When doing a photo session with a couple on location, I mix up the lighting as needed. With some photo sessions I may:
– shoot available light only;
– or I may decide with a photo session to use direct on-camera flash,
with some sequences available light only; or
– with some photo sessions I use off-camera flash with a softbox,
with some sequences just the available light.

Even in varying the way I may use the available light and flash, I still aim to have a consistent look to it all. My specific style has to be apparent. Or perhaps, in the way that I work, my style becomes apparent. The one way that I help make things easier for myself, and remain consistent, is that in working with the available light; or working with the available light and flash (both on-camera and off-camera) … I pick my battles. I don’t try and make *everything* work. Rather, I specifically choose where I pose a couple, or what I have as the background.  All of this in relation to the existing light and my flash.

  • camera settings for the image above:  1/250 @ f/4.5 @ 100 ISO … TTL flash, off-camera

Learn more inside…


manual off-camera fill-flash, controlling the contrast   (model – Ulorin Vex)

In using a softbox outdoors on location, we easily get beautiful soft light. When we work indoors however, where the flash dominates, then the results can look very contrasty. The reason for this is that outdoors, the available light acts like a fill light.  This is especially true when we consider our available light in our overall result and balance our flash with the available light. With the softbox being the only light source, the light, while still soft, can be too contrasty for our liking. Still, that single softbox is a lot better than hard direct off-camera flash … but it can be improved with some fill light.

The photo above of  Ulorin, our model at the recent workshop in San Francisco, was lit with the 24×24 Lastolite Ezybox softbox. But we did lift the shadows with some more off-camera fill flash, bounced into the room.

Here’s the short explanation and a longer, thorough explanation of how we went about it …

Learn more inside…