Elevating Your Photography With Artificial Lighting

The debate between natural light and artificial lighting in photography is ongoing, but the mastering both can significantly elevate a photographer's work and make them far more versatile. Understanding the intricacies of bringing lights on location, despite the hassle, reveals the dedication required to achieve specific artistic visions and the tangible difference it makes in the outcomes.

Coming to you from Manny Ortiz, this practical video showcases the challenges and rewards of using artificial lighting in various outdoor settings. Ortiz shares his experience of navigating the logistical difficulties of transporting and setting up lighting equipment without an assistant. The video underlines the importance of this effort by comparing shots taken with natural light against those enhanced with a flash setup. Through these comparisons, Ortiz demonstrates how artificial lighting can create depth, drama, and distinction in images that natural light alone might not achieve. For photographers looking to distinguish their work or capture a particular mood, Ortiz's insights highlight why mastering both natural and artificial lighting is invaluable.

The video also offers a glimpse into Ortiz' creative process, from choosing modifiers to adjusting angles for the perfect light. His detailed explanations and on-location demonstrations provide a comprehensive look at how different lighting setups can dramatically alter a photo's look and feel. Whether it's the dramatic shadows cast by a narrow beam of light or the soft, even glow from a diffused source, the versatility and control that artificial lighting affords a photographer makes the effort worth it. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Ortiz.

If you would like to continue learning about how to light a portrait, be sure to check out "Illuminating The Face: Lighting for Headshots and Portraits With Peter Hurley!"

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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The problem with Manny and the like is they put natural light in a bad light, yes, pun intended. They always use the worst or mundane condition. I think them overly relying on artificial lighting has made them lazy in looking for the right light and complacent, which results in their comparisons generally being disingenuous.

Of course, with SOOC, artificial lighting has significant advantages. But, at the end of the day, they still end up putting in a lot of work in post editing.

Below are a few examples of natural light photos from people that actually know what they are doing. First two images are from Irene Rudnyk. The next two are from Sergey Bidun. Quite a stark difference from Manny's version of natural light.

I really tried to get through this video, but i was out after he proclaims that he felt the light was too flat, moved the light further to the side and then directed the model to turn more towards the light essentially negating what he was trying to do. He does not have a base level understanding of lighting. That he is viewed as an influencer is embarrassing. Once again highlighting the difference between an photo influencer and a working professional photographer.

There are lovers of light vs lovers of lighting. Finding a way to utilize available light is the mark of a lover of light

In the video thumbnail, the natural light photo would look much better if there was just a tiny bit of flash to bring her up a little and "balance" the shot; not bury the background in underexposure and blasting the subject with light, like in the so-called "better" flash pic.

Manny seems like a good guy trying to make his way in the world of photography. He would be better off learning how to use flash to balance a photo. Not every use of flash needs to look like flash was used with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

There should be no debate between natural light an artificial light. Light is light. If you know your craft, you should be able to utilize a number of tools to get the job done.

The flash version is actually presented as superior to the natural light shot? Seriously?