Improving Natural Light Portraits with One Speedlight

Natural light portraits can be stunning, but how do you shoot someone’s portrait when the available light is too bright, too dark, or even worse, if the room is lit with unflattering fluorescent lighting?

Not to worry.  Creating great images on-location isn’t as hard as you might think.  To solve difficult lighting challenges try incorporating flash with available light.

Even in difficult natural lighting a single speedlight can help you make a bad picture good, and a good picture great.  Bright back light?  No problem.  Harsh sunlight?  Can do.  Deep shadows?  Easy.  Catch lights in the eyes?  Check.



Fortunately, today’s speedlights are better than ever.  They are relatively easy to use, and many can be operated remotely from your camera, or controlled using inexpensive radio trigger systems.  Equally important is their compact size and light weight, after all a flash has to fit in your bag or you’re not going to take it with you.

But a bare flash alone can also produce harsh, unflattering light.  To shoot the kind of creative portraits your clients will love, consider softening and shaping the light with the addition of one or two simple light modifiers like the versatile Rogue FlashBenders.



To highlight the usefulness and versatility of the FlashBenders, we recently produced some great videos demonstrating a variety of in-studio and on-location lighting techniques.  These 3-5 minute tutorials were produced for photographers of all skill levels, and for those who have from 1 to 3 speedlights.  They feature photographer demonstrations in-studio and on-location shooting men, women, and couples.

How do you shoot in flat, harsh, dim, off-color, or otherwise difficult natural light?  How should you position your subject relative to the background?  Should you back light your subject with the available light, or with flash?

While there are videos for more advanced photographers, for those of you starting out with your first flash, check out the 3 videos below.

Watch Erik Valind quickly and easily solve an indoor lighting nightmare to create a beautiful engagement portrait with nothing more than an on-camera flash, a color correction gel, and a Rogue FlashBender.

Lindsay Adler demonstrates how to create soft, flattering light on a female subject with nothing more than a speedlight, Rogue FlashBender, collapsible reflector, and window light.

Wondering what to do when you’re standing in the mid-winter shadow of a building?  Watch as Erik Valind creates warm, artificial sun flare with a speedlight and a color correction gel.

Kevin Deskins
Kevin Deskins


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