How To Get a Natural Look With Flash

There are lots of people who like and prefer a natural light look over flash, but sometimes the conditions outside may not cooperate with you to produce great results. Sometimes you have to grab a flash, here's a few ways you can get a more natural look when you do.

You can't always reschedule a shoot if the weather isn't optimal for your lighting, or there could be other reasons why you will need to add a flash to light your subjects. If you are looking to get a more natural look when using flash, in this video photographer Vanessa Joy shares two ways she achieves that look with a strobe. The first method really depends on your location as that does limit this option.

I love the soft light a large umbrella gives, it's one of my favorite modifiers. However, it's not one of the easiest modifiers to take outside... so be careful. On a windy day, it can easily turn into a sail so make sure you have one or more people standing by it to help secure it if the wind decides to pick up.  

What are some other methods or modifiers you use to get a less "flashy" look when taking portraits? Let us know in the comments and share your examples! Has anyone else used a large umbrella outdoors before, how did that work?

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3 Comments

Sylvain Santoro's picture

I just watched the video this morning : kinda intersting advices.

John Ohle's picture

Interesting video. One piece of advice Vanessa did not touch on is to match the light modifer to the available lighting conditions. She used a large soft light source on an overcast day, which worked perfectly, but if it was very sunny, sticking with a smaller light source would match the sunny lighting condidions better. Also, changing the colour tempture of your flash with gels to match the ambient colour tempture is a good idea too.

Of cource all this goes out the window if you have to change locations a lot, as in a wedding. Trying to move a large umbrella or softbox with gels attached plus sandbags plus camera plus camera bag... That is when a smaller light source comes into its own. It is a lot easier to move and set up.

Jan Holler's picture

A good addition to the video. I'd go for a couple of collapsible multi light reflectors (white, silver, gold, translucent). They are lightweight and can easily be used with lightweight stands. If you are in house with artificial light, gels do the job to match flash and ambient light.