Using Strobes instead of Natural Light

A lot of new photographers tout themselves as “Natural Light Photographers.” I’ve never seen a really experienced or talented photographer refer to themselves as a natural light photographer, because most experienced photographers have found the beauty that is strobed photography.

I took a class from Joe McNally, which is where I really began my journey in flash photography. Joe called himself an Available Light Photographer, which is generally synonymous with a natural light photographer. Then he quickly expounded “I figure out what light I need, then use my strobes to make it available.”


So this is just a quick example of what I used for a portrait. These shots are straight out of the camera.


Gear used:
Canon 24-105mm F/4L IS on a Canon 5D Mark II

Elinchrom Ranger Quadra with a Rotalux 100cm Deep Throat Octagonal Softbox

Start off by exposing for the buildings. As you can see, my buddy Gus is not quite exposed correctly. Natural light! Buildings look nice. Gus could use some work.

So let’s try exposing for Gus. Light on Gus looks ok. Not great. But the buildings are pretty much blown out and the background that was pretty cool looks like crap. 
So combine the single off camera light powered to balance the daylight. I am just using one light, but the focus and the sun act to separate Gus from the background.
This was quick and easy. Just quick test shots to show the difference and why flash is often not only necessary, but will create a much better shot for you.

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