Using an ND Filter to Balance Ambient Light and Studio Strobes

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Stephs first edits (17 of 18)ISO 160

When it comes to working with a flash during the daytime, one of the best ways to do this and ensure that your entire exposure isn’t blown out is to use an ND filter. To begin with, you’re supposed to use flash during the daytime to prevent shadows. You’ll start by positioning the sun behind your subject–but if you’re just working with ambient lighting then you’ll have blown out skies. And that method of backlighting is totally fine if you want that look.

But if you want to balance the background with your subject in the foreground, the best bet is to use a flash. One option is high speed sync or a fast flash duration, but one method that photographers have been using for years is the ND filter. We’ve used it too, but photographer Craig Beckta demonstrated this very well in the video below that shows the difference that an ND filter can make.

One big warning though: an ND filter can also affect your camera’s autofocusing abilities because it cuts down the amount of light in the scene that the sensor sees until the flash goes off.

Try it this weekend, and check out Craig’s video on using an ND filter to balance ambient light and strobe after the jump.