How To Balance Strobes With Constant Light Like a Pro

One of the most important things to know as a photographer is how to balance available light with controlled light. Unfortunately, many in the industry lack the knowledge and the techniques of how to do it. Watch this short video to learn the basics on balancing light bulbs (constant light) with strobes (controlled light) - simple and important.

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13 Comments

I think you need to be careful saying aperture only effects the strobes, it will effect the tungsten exposure also just like ISO will. A better way to explain it, is that. Shutter speed only affects ambient, Aperture and ISO Affect both and Flash/Strobe power only affects Strobe exposure. I understand what you are saying in that you are keeping your aperture constant and n sync with flash power but Aperture will effect flash exposure had you changed it and it also would have changed the ambient

Quite confusing in the way it is imparted. Ambient light is controlled by all of the tree features of a camera : ISO, apert. and shutter. Dunno why the author so adamantly reiterates that ambient light is chiefly controlled by shutter speed ???
The speedlight adds the advantage of possessing its own power control therefore providing more flexibility.
All in all ... not a very helpful contribution to the topic.
Actually the product ads make me believe that this is a commercial disguised as a tutorial.

btw. Whenever I shoot parties or events under such difficult light conditions I set the camera to manual mode, adjust for best ambient light impression and let the speedlight do its job in TTL mode. Works almost 100% of the time.

When using strobes, aperture controls flash, and shutter controls ambient light. Having the shutter stay open for a longer or shorter amount of time does not effect how much light (from the strobes) is being let into the sensor as it is a predetermined length of time, ISO of course effects both ambient and strobe light, but shutter is the key to ambient light. You set your shutter to get the ambient light exposed how you want it, and aperture for the flash. Always work in steps, ambient first, then strobes.

haha the smile of the model at 4:16 is like get this camera off of my face i am drinking my coffee!!!

ALEXANDER TARDIF's picture

I thought the same... that gal had crazy eyes and looked miserable the entire time, i thought she was so weird looking and distracting it was impossible to concentrate on some of crap the guy was spewing.

Clipping camera, metre, smartphone, lenses, everything.. on his velcro waist belt:

Rambooooooooo !

Flash starts to clip past 1/80th?? What kind of camera is he using?? My 7D has a sync of 1/250th, most are 1/200th, and even some as low as 1/160th. I usually set mine to 1/200th just in case.

Shane Castle's picture

I dunno. The results to me say that it's not balanced but is instead flash with some constant lights visible but contibuting nothing to the lighting. I actually liked some of the tungsten-only frames from the video better than the still pics. Switch the camera to tungsten white balance, kill the flash, and see what you get.

As to the so-called triangle, I agree that it's glib to say aperture only affects flash (better to say flash exposure is affected by aperture and not shutter speed), and the flash sync speed statements are completely off the wall and incomprehensible. If I want to reduce or minimize ambient I'll play with ISO and shutter till I get the ambient I want (usually none) then adjust flash levels and aperture to get the DoF and exposure I want.

--hmmm--- takes me back to apprenticeship days-- pitch dark outside--a camera set on auto on a tripod activated and a common torch that can throw a narrow beam 30 feet - then paint with the torch light onto branches to make them stand out- when shutter clicks pic is done and where you shine the light the most is where most exposure is. Job done- no lighting setups- no mirrors- no magicians- no assistants- and how you paint with that light directly affects what will appear. Easy really and a good way to learn about what you can do with light. Cheers.

Gregory L'Esperance's picture

The main difference in light quality here to me is both color balance or temperature (tungsten vs. daylight), and duration (continuous vs. flash/intermittent). The shutter speed will affect both durations at different settings in different ways, depending on their usage solely or together. The sync speed that the camera is set to will obviously govern the flash capture; anything shorter will produce 'clipping' effects, anything greater (longer) in speed will produce flash fill effects when combined with other continuous light (ex. 1/60th sync speed w/ 1/15th shutter speed will produce 'fill' flash effects as addt'l ambient light is allowed to be recorded; whereas 1/200th sync speed w/ 1/1000th shutter speed will produce 'clipping' or partial image capture as the sync speed is slower than than the shutter and therefore can't record the entire shot). Flash output settings will need to be adjusted in concert with aperture /shutter speed to produce the required amount of light captured. ISO settings will also control the cameras ability to record the light input as it directly affects the other camera settings (aperture/shutter speed), in terms of resulting exposure value. In the 'old days' with film we would push/pull process (change chemical development times) in conjunction with having altered ISO (ASA) settings to enable a wider range of aperture/shutter speed combinations with some varying sacrifice in image quality (i.e. increased contrast/graininess/color balance shift), The same technique can be utilized with digital with possibly even less image degradation (introduction of 'noise') depending on image sensor (mpix size), etc.....

Chet Meyerson's picture

"Actually the product ads make me believe that this is a commercial disguised as a tutorial."

Yup!

I know this has been said...but flash clipping at 1/80th of a second?! And excuse me but aperture controls both ambient and strobe. I simply cannot believe how many places on the internet still get this wrong.

"And if you order in the next ten minutes you'll get this white/silver reflector for your photoshoots. Call now!"