Solving On-Location Lighting Problems with Erik Valind and FlashBender 2

So what happens when you show up to your location shoot for an engagement, and your head begins spinning because the lighting is terrible? You may think to yourself, "I only have the basics on hand, a camera and flash, what am I going to do!?" Let's talk about how to clean up all those awful orange casts and reroute the light so it's pleasing on your subject...

First step: evaluate your situation. In the above situation the newly engaged couple wants to be photographed inside this lobby where we have a nice lamp and lounging area. No problem, let's first work on figuring how to solve this mess of lighting, we have two big problems: light color and direction.

First shot with no flash, just to see what we have going on in this area. Let's first work on changing the direction. Grab the flash from your bag, throw it on your camera's hot shoe, and bounce it back up toward the ceiling. Remember one of the key basics about lighting is that the large the light source is relative to the subject, the softer the light will appear. By pointing the flash up at the ceiling, you as a photographer are converting that ceiling into a giant soft light source and it will bounce back down on your subjects.

By bouncing the flash alone, the image has dramatically improved, but we're still fine tuning this environmental lighting issue. Let's next work on color.

There are a few ways to go about identifying color issues, the easiest is to identify the indoor lighting. If you can identify what type of lighting is in the environment, you can course-correct and create more accurate color. Warm lights are tungsten or compact fluorescents shifted to tungsten, greenish lights tend to be long-tube fluorescents. In this situation we have tungsten or tungsten color shifted bulbs. Most speedlights are close to daylight balance or run cooler than tungsten color, so we are going to need to warm that up by adding a CTO color correction gel from a pack of Rogue Flash Gels. CTO or color temperature orange is designed to shift daylight balanced lights to tungsten balanced lights, and is found in both the Rogue Flash Gels: Combo Filter Kit or there are three in the Rogue Flash Gels: Color Correction Kit.

Now that we've solved both lighting color and direction, let's do some fine tuning to finalize the image. By originally bouncing the light we changed the direction to coming from above. There's no problem with doing this, but it does create some significant shadow under the eyes and chin. We're looking to optimize light usage, so that's where the Rogue FlashBender 2 Small Reflector comes into play. The FlashBender 2 Small will allow us to not only bounce the light up on the ceiling to create that nice soft light from above, but the reflective surface will push any light forward to give nice catchlights in the eyes and fill in those shadows created by falling light. 

The FlashBender and the Rogue Gel can be used together to modify not only color but light direction, too. So whether you need to shoot a quick headshot indoors or you have a client who requests an indoor portrait, remember to grab your camera, flash, and even the Rogue FlashBender and Gels into your pack, they fold flat and take up so little room they'll fit into a sling bag, or small camera shoulder case.

Final Image:


 Find Erik Online:

Erik Valind
Erik Valind


Erik Valind is a freelance photographer, born and raised on the Florida beaches, now living in New York City. Specializing in commercial lifestyle photography and environmental portraiture - airy and energetic imagery defines the style and vision of this top pro photographer. Inspired by the form, activity and diversity of people, Erik has lent his expertise to shape the public image of numerous personas and national brands.

2 Responses

Kevin - ExpoImaging
Kevin - ExpoImaging

September 15, 2015

Hi Ngoc,

Thanks for your question.

The white balance when using a CTO or tungsten gel should always be custom white balanced OR switched to tungsten white balance. Either way, the orange casts will go away once the white balance has been shifted. If you have any other questions feel free to email us at support(at)expoimaging(dot)com.


ExpoImaging, Inc.

Ngoc Tran
Ngoc Tran

September 14, 2015

Hi Erik,

I enjoy your article in solving this common lighting issue. There’s one thing that’s still bothering me: did you leave the White Balance in Auto, or switch it to Tungsten or Daylight. This is crucial to my understanding of using gels. I highly appreciate your answer. Thank you.

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