Shooting at Sunset: How to Balance Ambient Light With Strobes

Commercial Photographer and Videographer Jay P. Morgan has spent the last 25-plus years mastering light, production, and the business end of photography. He shares most of his insights on The Slanted Lens, his site dedicated to providing step-by-step instruction on how to light for photography and video. His latest video finds him in Gettysburg, combining strobes with ambient light, featuring Honest Abe and a couple of sweet cannons, while he shows us how to light a scene during sunset.

So, how did Jay P. get the job done? First, he taped a speedlight and Pocket Wizard to the back of the lantern with a full CTO (color temperature orange) diffusion gel inside. Then, he set the shutter for a long exposure for the ambient light of the sky before setting up the lights for everything else. To light Lincon's face, Morgan put a Baja B4 with a gridded medium soft box close to the camera to make it appear as if it was coming from the lantern. Finally, he put a grid light right of the camera, behind the cannon. With the light coming over the top of the cannon, it also gave a nice rim on Lincoln while highlighting the background smoke. In case you lost count, that is a total of three lights: lantern, medium soft box with a grid, and a large-grid spot rim light to open everything up.

So, let’s take a look at our lighting set up:

Interested in the gear used for this shoot? Here's the list:

Pocket Wizard PlusX
SKB Injection-Molded Case
Dynalite Baja B4
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT
Canon 5D Mark III
Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

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[via ISO1200]

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Olafs Osh's picture

love those little bits, as that flash in the lantern :]

Thomas Blasche's picture

Nice video... I've done something similiar but I used a small LED flashlight (Maverick M10) with a LEE gel in front behind a light bulb...