How To Shoot Simple and Beautiful Sunset Portraits With Off-Camera Flash

There are few times more enjoyable to shoot during than golden hours, but the lighting can be tricky too. This video will help you with some important tips for using a flash and balancing it perfectly during a sunset.

I used to shoot a lot of natural light, particularly when I bought my first camera, and you can achieve a lot with it. If you add in reflectors — as I was prone to — you can achieve even more. But what about using strobe lighting? Before I understood how to properly light a scene, I was invariably disappointed with the outcome of my shoots during golden hour should I have opted to use an off-camera flash. I would wash out the photographs, I would lose the beautiful natural light and colors, and I would become frustrated. 

However, after the first year or so with my camera, I decided that perhaps that look I was getting wasn't just part and parcel of flash photography, but rather user error; I was right. There are a number of difficulties with using a flash for sunset photography, but the bulk of the issues is split into two: balancing light and retaining color. The balancing of light is where you ensure that your flash does not overpower the natural light to such a degree that you lose all sense of the time of day. The retaining of color — or rather the manipulation of color — is where you don't simply blast your subject with crisp white light and lose all those delicious golden tones. Warming up the light allows it to fit more organically with the natural light and can result in pleasing but natural-looking images.

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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