Indoor Scenes | Bad Ambient Light with Flash

Whenever possible, use the exposure triangle and add light modification to overcome bad ambient light.

This is our approach to using flash to make the most of bad ambient light:

  • Underexpose in-camera to remove bad light
  • Add flash with grid
  • Keep exposure (if ambient light is not too bad) and add light accordingly
  • Add flash with bounce
  • Match dominant light temperature (ambient vs. natural)
  • Match dominant light direction

Exposure goals for overcoming bad ambient light with flash:

  • Bias: underexpose and clip shadows (vs. standard bias of preserving shadows)
  • Match dominant temperature
  • White balance shift/tint + magenta

We mention using grids to modify flashes because without them, light tends to spill over more of the background. When you’re trying to limit the exposure of the background and reduce the ambient light, you still want to control the light that you are adding to the scene. Grids work great for just that reason.