Balancing Ambient Light and Flash

We need all the tools, techniques and creativity we can muster to tackle whatever situations we encounter when we’re crafting killer images on location. Sometimes available light and a reflector, scrim or both get the job done. Other times, Mother Nature needs a helping hand from a flash. Balancing ambient and flash doesn’t mean each source contributes the same amount of light. In most cases, ambient light is the dominant source providing the majority of the illumination in a scene, while flash adds additional light where needed. You may need very little light from your flash to get the job done, while other more dramatic looks call for more flash and less ambient light. Having these creative options makes incorporating flash into your ambient shoots so compelling.

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The New Profoto B10 in Action with Sal Cincotta

The Profoto B10 is here and it's a thing of beauty. The latest in the Profoto lineup, this unit sits perfectly in the lineup for mobile photographers. The B10 hits the mark with both portability and power. As you will see in the video below, I took the light into various lighting situations that a photographer might find themselves in during the course of a typical shoot - outdoors, bright sun, indoors, etc.

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Depth & Drama with Accent Lights

Creating lighting styles is a lot like cooking. You start with an idea of what you want and season to taste, adding what you need as you go. Each step taken on the path to achieving the look you’ve visualized is a series of building blocks with an eventual whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Readers of this column know I’m a big fan of working with one light, but there are times when additional lights are called for. This month, I turn up the heat and show you what’s possible with four lights.

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Top 10 Lighting Mistakes

As a longtime photographer and mentor to other photographers, I’m uniquely qualified to speak about mistakes. I’ve made them all more than once and seen them all. That’s ok. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes, and if you’re not failing forward, you’re not trying hard enough. These top 10 lighting mistakes are all specific to flash. If you’re not using flash yet, read on for a few aha moments, and check out last month’s feature about why you need strobe in your life. Let’s get this party started.

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Master the Light with Sal Cincotta

Are you a natural-light photographer? Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds? Change your mindset. Be a photographer. As a photographer, you don’t identify yourself by your lighting choice. I don’t say I am a “Canon photographer.” I am a professional photographer. I take great pride in that, as should you. If you ever want to be successful in this business, you need to master all light. But make no mistake: There is a lot to do and it can seem overwhelming. 

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Lighting Foundations for Better Portraits

Photographers who understand light use it as a paintbrush to create a beautiful piece of art for their clients. Photographers tend to overcomplicate things, which can make the use of artificial light intimidating to some. This month, I talk about techniques that are not commonly used by wedding and portrait photographers who do most of their work outside the studio. I also get into the intricate details of light that can impact a portrait for better or worse.

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Strobe Is Available Light

It always makes me smile when photographers tell me they’re “available light” shooters. The first thing I do is grab the nearest strobe, hold it over my head in a Statue of Liberty pose and ask, “Do you see this strobe? Guess what? It’s an available light.” If photography is just your hobby and available-light shooting is what you’re comfortable with, that’s perfectly fine. But if you’re aspiring to be a pro, you’re doing yourself and your clients a disservice by not learning how to use flash.

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