There Is More to Natural Light Images Than Just Natural Light

Want to know a secret? You know those images that look like they’re all natural light? Well, lots of the images are produced using some sort of flash or second light source. The flash isn’t used to replace the natural light, but rather to complement the natural light and fill in where that natural light just can’t pull its weight.

Joanie Simon of The Bite Shot demonstrates in this video how just a little bit of flash and a simple light modifier can turn a flat natural light image into an image that highlights the subject without losing the impression the image is all natural light. Remember, light is light, and merely adding a flash or another constant source light to the natural light doesn’t have to give away that additional lighting was used.

So, the secret isn’t really that flash or a second constant light source was used in the image, but rather the secret is to use that second light source gently. Use a modifier to soften the transition between the highlights produced by the additional light and the darker areas that are only lit with the natural light source. 

In the image above that I shot last year for my wife’s annual Italian drinks social media campaign for her travel company, I used two light sources. The primary source was the sun; however, I didn’t use the direct light from the sun. Instead, I used the open shade of my garage that the sun was creating by bouncing off the driveway. This lit the glasses from behind, but left small but noticeable shadows in front of the glasses. I didn’t use a flash to correct this. Instead, I used my trusty 5-in-1 reflector to reflect some of the soft sunlight back at the front of the glasses.

Douglas Turney's picture

Doug Turney is a Connecticut based photographer who specializes in non-ball sport types of photography such as motocross, sailing, and cycling. But that doesn’t stop him from shooting other types of photography too. Doug believes photography is photography and doesn’t like to be typecast. Doug loves to travel and often shoots when traveling.

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got to be honest. the image needs a bit decorating a bouquet of basil to the front, some whole tomatoes. even a small block of parmesan cheese. and to move a few of the wood fire to the front so it can be seen better

For us that live in a country with like 2 month of sun.. we use flash to mimic natural light all the time. :-)