Kyal & Kara


Kyal & Kara - Mixing flash with Ambient


So I don't often do "how to" posts but I thought this shoot would be a great starting point to share some very basic tricks to getting your flash work to look less flashy... 

For this job I was contracted to handle the lighting by my high school chum Rose Bruce, you can check out her work here

So before starting this shoot, we were requested to follow a bit of a brief that outlaid the shoot as "High Key" the sample images that they provided were a little bit different to the explanation so we just tried out best to match the shoot to the couple's home. 

Upon entering the house I noticed the ambient light flowing onto the back of the couch and thought this would be a great starting point for the shoot. 

Below is the end product. 

Simple right... 

Kyal & Kara

Well sort of, this image required 3 lighting sources which can be found on the below diagram. 

Lighting diagram.jpeg

So I will just quickly go through how this photo was built and then I can explain what modifiers were used to create this very light and airy look.

1) Ambient Light - This was the light that was actually lighting the room when we walked through, it was diffused by the curtains so all we had to do was correctly expose this and build the rest of the lighting around it. 

2) Key... I suppose - This was a Godox AD600BM flash with just the bulb exposed, it was pointed backward away from the couple at the white walls that filled the room. We adjusted the output of the flash until it filled Kyal & Kara's bodies adequately. 

By bouncing directly off the walls with a daylight balanced flash we were able to make it appear that a big natural light source was filling from the other side of the room. 

3) Fill - Lastly we placed a Godox AD360ii flash in a 7 foot parabolic umbrella with a softlighter attachment outside the left window, by doing this we were able to create 1 last soft light to fill in the left side of the faces of our subjects and remove that slightly shadowed contrast that was remaining to finish off this image. 

Now you are probably reading that thinking AD600... AD360... I don't own any fancy flash gear.

Realistically this lighting setup could have been done with 2 cheap Speedlight's and a $30 umbrella for (3) outside.


This is a very quick and easy way to make your flash work not really look "flashy" which is kind of what our brief was showing us on their mood board. 

If you are looking to do something similar I would follow the steps below. 

1) expose for your ambient light

2) use your key light and find a way to soften it to match the look you are trying to achieve ( I have shot through white bed sheets before) .

3) decide on how much fill light is required to finish your shot (this can be done with a reflector rather than adding another flash)