Even though we ARE Nikon lovers,we are NOT affiliated with Nikon Corp. in any way.

We are starting our webinars. First one is on the Nikon Z6ii and Z7ii cameras. More info


Sign up Login
Home Forums Articles Galleries Members Galleries Master Your Vision Galleries 5Contest Categories 5Winners Galleries 5ANPAT Galleries 5 The Winners Editor's Choice Portfolios Recent Photos Search Contest Info Help News Newsletter Join us Renew Membership About us Retrieve password Contact us Contests Vouchers Wiki Apps THE NIKONIAN™ For the press Fundraising Search Help!


Balancing Ambient Light with Flash


Keywords: flash, studio, lighting, filter, guides, tips

I've got an understanding of apparent light size. I know what happens when I change the distance between my light source, my subject and my background. And I've moved through diffuse and direct reflections. Now it's time to get into some of the practical aspects of flash photography, and there's no place better to start than balancing ambient light with flash.

Some starting points
Just so we're all on the same page, I'm working with both my camera and flash in manual mode. I've learned to work this way because I've found that this allows me to control the final outcome of my images as opposed to giving up some of the creative decisions to TTL, aperture priority, or shutter priority modes.

As for the flash, I typically use a shoot-through umbrella to soften the light. If your working along, I suggest using an umbrella or some other type of diffuser, as simple as a white shower curtain if you don't have anything else. If you're using bare flash, you'll have to knock the power back from settings that I recommend.

So what do I recommend? Well, after doing this for awhile I've found that starting out at 1/4th or 1/8th power, with my flash fired through an umbrella somewhere between two to four feet from my subject is a good starting point. I've never had a flash meter, and learned to do this stuff by shooting, looking at the image, and making adjustments as needed. I can tell you with some degree of certainty that if you start out at an 1/8th of power, and then set your camera's shutter, ISO and aperture correctly, you'll be in the ballpark for a good image. So what about those camera settings. Well, that's where we're going now.




Achieving balance
At the heart of this balance concept is the idea that there are two exposures occurring every time you press the shutter release, the ambient exposure, and the flash exposure. If we take a step back and just think about exposure in general, we know there are three variables at play that affect the outcome: shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Whenever we make a photograph, we adjust each of these independently to get the proper exposure for a given scene.


To read the rest of the article, please log in. This article is available to all Silver, Gold and Platinum Nikonians members. If you are not registered yet, please do so. To discover the world of Nikonians and the advantages of being a registered member, take our short discovery tour.


Dave Diehl (drdavediehl) on December 15, 2012

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

Great , simple read that helps explain a problem I struggle with. Can't wait to break out the lights and begin testing this out. Hopefully, I will finally get some good indoor shots.

Bernard Heimos (bernsphoto2) on November 27, 2012

Very good article. My mistake was to assume the adjustments were made to the flash power. Now it makes sense.