It’s Lit: How to Do Flash Photography Under the Sun Like a Pro

Yes, you can do flash photography under broad daylight for those beautiful, editorial-style portraits!

When we want to shoot and the sun’s blazing outside, our instinct is to forego flash photography and just use ambient light. But as photographer Ed Gregory of the YouTube channel Photos in Color demonstrates in his seven-minute tutorial, speedlights and studio flashes can actually be your allies if you’re looking to create stunning and perfectly exposed photographs.

You see, what often happens when we take photos outdoors using ambient light only is that we sacrifice the appearance of either the background or the subject. Only one ends up being properly exposed as we raise ISOs and adjust apertures, and the trick to balancing the light distribution is to just use a flash.

To demonstrate, Ed conducted photo shoots in two different outdoor settings during a bright sunny day: one in which the model is under a pine tree and another where she’s standing on a rock, with the sun shining directly above her. In both instances, the model isn’t properly illuminated.

The key, Ed says, is to adjust your camera’s settings to expose the background correctly and to place an off-camera flash in front of the model or subject. In his case, he used an Elinchrom ELC Pro HD 1000. When the flash fires, the light coming from it illuminates the subject just as brightly as the sun has with the background.

Ed explains:

“In an environment where you’ve got lots of sun, by adding that extra flash, you can create something which looks absolutely spectacular. This is a real editorial-style photograph where you’ve controlled and manipulated the light, and you have made sure that the sun is not in control, but you as a photographer.”

Watch the full tutorial below:

Screenshots taken from the video by Photo in Color.