Almost everyone who starts out in photography does so relying upon ambient light. As you grow in the field and start to develop a body of work, you begin to look for ways to obtain more control over your images and the first step is artificial lighting.

At first, this can be daunting because you are now in total control of this new element of your photographic process whereas before, you only had to adapt to what was already present. The crew over at the Mango Street Lab have taken the time share some tips to make your comfortable taking control of the light.

Prioritizing the Light 

When you’re looking for the right balance between the ambient light and your flash, a good way to start is to dial in your camera settings using only the natural light first. This will set the foundation for the lighting that you will build upon with your flash. When you do add your flash, it will serve a fill light.

Note: Regarding your camera settings, most cameras have a maximum sync speed of 1/250th. 


Matching the Light

In general, you want to match the artificial light with the natural light. So if the ambient light is soft, you’ll want the light coming from your flash to be soft as well. If the light is hard, you’ll want the same from your flash to keep the look of your image consistent.

This is where light modifiers come into play as they give your greater control of the light coming from your flash. When you do add your flash, start with your power settings low and increase it only if you need more.

The larger a light source is the softer the light it will produce. Conversely, a small light source will produce a harder light. Generally, softer light, which is more flattering light, is used for women while a harder light is more suited to men. But, depending on your preference, feel free to break this rule once you’ve mastered this lighting balance and discovered the vision for your photo shoot.

The light used in this video is the  Flashpoint Xplor 600.

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