3 reasons why you need to use flash for your outdoor photoshoots


A lot of newbie photographers are afraid of using flashes. They prefer to use natural light over flash, which I think is not wrong but the flash can definitely give you a very different look to your images. Flashes can give you your own direction and can improve the dynamic range in your images.

A flash is an artificial light source that you can control as per your needs. It gives you great control over the scene. Although some of the flashes are small units, they can produce a great amount of light which helps you balance your ambiance easily. So with all the control over intensity, quality, direction, and much more, you can easily gain a great amount of control over your scene.

Let’s understand how and why a flash is important for your outdoor exposures.

There are multiple reasons why I would choose flash over natural light. Below I have given my main 3 reasons for using flash for my outdoor exposure.

1. For balancing the dynamic range

You must be familiar with something called HDR. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range photography. Let’s understand what is a dynamic range. The dynamic range of the subject is a measure of the range of light intensities from the shadows to the highlights. In low light conditions, the dynamic range (that is the difference between the darkest and the brightest part of the subject) is quite small.

The dynamic range of a DSLR is not as great as our eyes, which means that you can either record the details in the shadows and miss out on highlights or vice versa.

In the below-given image, the exposure was set for the model. As the sun is behind the model the background is overexposed. So the details in the background is missing.

Natural light
Metering from the model with spot metering mode

Now when we meter from the background we end up having an image where the background is correctly exposed but the model’s exposure has gone underexposed.

Metering from the background with spot metering mode

To balance the light in such a situation what we need is a flash, which will add the light from the front and will help us balance the model’s light with the background light.

So after adding a light source from the front, the model and the background both are properly exposed and we can see the details in both.

With a flash, we can easily cover up the dynamic range difference and make the images look properly balanced.

Adding up light from the front will help us balance the model’s light with the ambiance

2. Use the flash to create your own lighting directions

Natural light sometimes can be very flat and with almost no contrast at all. Using a flash will give you control to create your own lighting directions, which can help you gain a great amount of contrast in your images. Below given images will give you a visual understanding of the direction and contrast in the images.

The below-given image is a shot with natural light only, which is a flat image with low contrast. Although the image looks fine it can be better by using an external light source.

No Flash – Natural lights only – No contrast and a very flat image

Now when we add an external light source like a flash then we can control the light direction and intensity. Which gives us better contrast and a much better lighting direction.

One light source from model left and one from model right

3. Using flash as fill flash

Fill flash is used to open up the shadows of your subject while maintaining the same exposure

Using flash as fill flash is the easiest way of using flash for your outdoor shots. Most of the flashes which work on TTL mode will give you the exact amount of flash power to open up the shadows of your subject.

Fill flash means simply filling up the shadows of the subject without affecting the overall exposure thus I normally prefer to use TTL mode of your flash to do the right job.

There are many other usages of flashes and multiple effects of the artificial lights can be achieved by proper use of flashes. Exploring flash will give your images a very fresh and unique look with 100% control of the lighting situations in the photographer’s hands. Here are some more examples of the flash being used outdoors.

6 responses to “3 reasons why you need to use flash for your outdoor photoshoots”

  1. very well explained sir..i am an amature photographer and was really confused if I should buy godox softbox for using external flash but your article has made me very clear that yes I should buy one..Can you please suggest me if i can use my Godox V1 flash in Godox softbox 80 cm to get good result?

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