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Tips & Tricks

Creating Soft Portrait Lighting with On Camera Flash | Minute Photography

By Pye Jirsa on September 6th 2016

Welcome to our new series, Minute Photography, where we explain photography and lighting tips & tricks, myths, and techniques all within 60 seconds!

In this episode, we are covering an on-camera flash lighting technique. In just 60 seconds, see how we use an on-camera flash and a reflector to create soft, flattering light for portraits.

[REWIND: DANCE FLOOR CAMERA TWIST | MINUTE PHOTOGRAPHY]

Step 1: Dial in your camera settings

family-portraits-lighting

In Manual mode, dial in the ambient light exposure for the scene itself. With family portraits the goal isn’t to involve dramatic lighting techniques but more so to capture the natural & candid behavior amongst the family on camera, and therefore your artificial light source needs to match this mood.

Step 2: Grab Your Flash & Dial in An Appropriate Flash Power

lighting-off-camera-flash

Now with your ambient light exposure dialed in, you’ll notice that your subjects are too dark, with heavy shadows and clear contrast between them and the background. Place your flash on your hot-shoe and dial in a flash power setting that will compensate for the shadows. We aimed for the background to be a bit brighter with bright highlights, allowing the rich colors from the foliage and grass to be exaggerated.

Step 3: Bounce your light for a soft & diffused look

family-portrait-lighting

Pop open a reflector (we love using the Westcott 5-in-1) and bounce your on-camera flash onto the white side of the reflector, versus using the silver/gold side which would create harsh highlights on the skin. Since we are shooting outdoors, we recommend using flashes at full power to overpower and match the brightness of the sunlight seen in the scene. However, this will vary depending on your ambient light exposure.

[REWIND: CASE STUDY | QUICK LIGHTING FOR FAMILY PORTRAITS]

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To master foundation lighting techniques, check out our Lighting 101 workshop, or stream it along with a plethora of photography and post-production education as an SLRL Premium member. Stay tuned for more simple & effective photography tips & tricks in our Minute Photography series!

About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ashraful Alam

    Great Post. I like it. Thanks

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