How to Overcome Harsh Sunlight by Shooting Outdoor Portraits With Flash

Golden hour is great and all, but if you limit your outdoor portrait times to those narrow windows during the day, you're going to quickly be frustrated by the limitations. Learning to shoot outside with flash is an essential skill, and this great video will introduce you to it. 

Coming to you from Tony Northrup, this helpful video will show you how to shoot outdoor portraits with flash, which will allow you to either overcome or balance the sun. This in turn allows you the freedom to shoot whenever and still get great results. The important thing to note here is that Northrup is shooting with a Godox AD600, which has high-speed sync. This allows him to push the shutter speed well past the sync speed of his Nikon D850, which lets him more easily kill off the ambient light. If you don't have a flash that supports high-speed sync, he talks about how to overcome this limitation later in the video. If you haven't yet purchased your strobe system, I do recommend looking into one with high-speed sync. Though it has its own drawbacks, I personally think it makes life way, way easier when shooting outside, and you don't have to use HSS if you don't want to for a certain shoot. 

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26 Comments

Tom Lew's picture

hot model

Kirk Darling's picture

He must be in the dog house.

Michael Holst's picture

Maybe but she seemed a little stiff. Probably shouldn't find potential models at the mall anymore.

William Howell's picture

Another Godox commercial.

Tony Northrup's picture

This isn't a Godox commercial. The only time we've talked to them, they were SUPER rude to us. They don't even write back to our customer support messages. For that matter, they don't write back to anyone's customer support messages.

We've bought all our Godox gear ourself. We recommend it because it works well and is a great value. We clearly disclose ALL our sponsorships and potential conflicts of interest because that's both the right thing to do and it's required by law.

Daniel Medley's picture

Tony, I've heard that purchasing the Flashpoint rebranded Godox lights from their vendor can be advantageous for the reasons you just stated; customer support. Awesome video by the way.

Vincent Alongi's picture

I'd like to understand as well from Tony if he's had any experience with Flashpoint / Adorama, as Adorama is on the way home for me and it would be easy to pick up either.

William Howell's picture

Thank you for that correction. I apologize.
Do you think the Godox mono bloc is better than the Einstien?

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Godox has no ambassadors for their lights. The products just work well. Try to focus on the point of the video instead of the light that was used.

William Howell's picture

I am focused on the point, look I can buy an Einstien light with a super high quality battery, all components replaceable in the field for $800. And for the money there is simply no better bargain.

My color consistency is phenomenal, one photograph after another just looks the same. I can stop action really well at half power, that’s good.

All I’m saying is for the new guys and gals just getting into mono blocs, don’t waste your money on trendy B.S., particularly when there isn’t anyway to get them repaired. My advice is to just go with Buff, if you’re lucky enough to live in the USA.

Francisco Hernandez's picture

I've already told you in another thread there are places to get the lights serviced. If bought from Adorama they'll service the light should something happen and if bought through Godox there's Cheetahstand in Texas. A lot of people prefer the cordless and wireless system from the Godox lights and the lights are much cheaper.

You really aren't going to convince someone wanting to invest in a first strobe to spend a couple hundred more dollars for a system that doesn't offer as much.

William Howell's picture

No, the Godox costs more.
I hope people listen to good advice. The Einstein is such a good mono bloc and coupled with the Buff battery and the Cybersync it is a wonderful American lighting system.

Peter Gargiulo's picture

Love the outtake.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

His model just stood there like a dummy...

Amazing! He took a simple process and made it way too complicated. :-/

Jay Galvan's picture

I wish i could down vote this more than one time!

You kinda just did! :-)

Let me explain my comment:

There's no point to setting your camera to aperture priority mode to establish your target aperture. Just set it to manual to begin with. If his audience doesn't know how to adjust shutter speed or ISO to compensate for varying apertures, they won't be able to follow later instructions.

He includes quite a bit of information that isn't relevant to the purpose of the video (eg. adjusting lighting settings with a wireless trigger) and, again, seems to conflict with the experience of his target audience.

Adding the part about sending the background to black, while a useful principal, is impractical while shooting outside and anyone with lighting powerful enough to do that, probably doesn't need this tutorial.

If you're still inclined, go ahead and down vote this as well. :-)

Alex Cooke's picture

- He does that to get a base shutter speed around which to start with. It's no different than going straight to manual and jogging the shutter speed back and forth until you find the right one.

- It's totally practical to make the ambient black; I do that all the time. And there are plenty of people who have gear that's more capable than their experience necessitates and could learn from such tutorials.

I didn't say it was wrong, just overly complicated. You and I understand the reasoning but a beginner wouldn't.

You do that outside? I agree there are people with better cameras than they need but not too many people with that kind of lighting.

I gave my opinion and others disagree. It's all good.

William Howell's picture

I’m not saying anything bad, but the tutorial seemed like a sneaky commercial for Godox.
Tony says it wasn’t, so I take his word.

I didn't get that impression but then, I *was* fixated on other things. ;-)

Francisco Hernandez's picture

A quick clarification to the video. When using a ND filter instead of HSS you actually make better use of the power. You don't use more power. It's the opposite. HSS uses more power and using a ND filter requires less. Because of the way it operates, when you use HSS you're reducing the amount of light you could use sometimes even by a whole stop. To best use every bit of light coming out of any HSS capable light you'd want to use it without HSS.

Yes, i am quite surprised how people still do not know that ND filter do not change the ratio between flash and ambient.
In fact, mixed with HSS, can save some battery power.

William Howell's picture

I like the look of a ND filter in bright sunlight with a flash on the subject.

John MacLean's picture

Did anyone else think his ambient was too hot in the normal no-flash image, already making his model overexposed? Then she just got wiped out in the flash frame.

Yeah. I think flash is like makeup. If it's done right, you shouldn't be able to tell it was done at all.