Useful Photography Tip #137: How to Use Flash to Mimic the Look of Sunlight

Chris Gampat Raiyan Saed's portraits (7 of 11)ISO 2001-160 sec at f - 3.2

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When shooting portrait subjects, there are typically three lights that you talk about: a main light, a fill and a hair light. But when shooting outdoors with lots of natural light, those rules to go out the window. Your main light often becomes the sun, whether diffused or not.

This tip is a bit more advanced and requires you to build on things cumulatively. First off, when shooting outdoors, we think that you should always try to shoot in the shade where you’ve got more control over the light. After you’ve got full control of the light, you can use a flash to add in a bit of fake sun.

Look at the edge of Raiyan’s face camera right, see the light? It was a flash in a beauty dish, but gives a natural look of sunlight.

So how do you do this? Let’s recap:

– Shoot outdoors

– Use the shadows and get total control over your lighting situation

– Place a flash either with the wide angle diffuser, in a beauty dish, or in a rectangular shaped softbox to add a bit of rim lighting

To make this even more emphasized with the look of sunlight, try adding a gradient–which builds even more on other tips that we’ve done. It’s all about adding the extra rim light that looks very natural but subdued.

Give it a shot. This is something you have to do more than us telling you about it.