Better Than Ambient Light: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I’ll show you how using flash on your location portraits can be better than just ambient light. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching AdoramaTV, brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers, and today you join me on location. I’m actually in a field just outside of the Gatwick aviation museum with Gatwick Airport right behind me. As you probably see in here in the video, the idea with this is, we’re going to do a location lit portrait, but when it comes to adding light to my location shoots. I have one goal in mind, and that’s to make the light that I add better than the light that’s already here. So with that in mind let’s get some light set, let’s get a model in, let’s get shooting. So to help me out today, I’ve got the amazing Jade Lyon. She’s going to be the model for this, and things haven’t quite gone to plan so far, because believe it or not, this is supposed to be a field full of waist-high grass! But they’ve mowed it very recently, and this is the only bit we could find. So this is going to be our shot here, and I’m going to try and make this look like a field of grass. So let’s talk about lighting. If I’m going to add light, I want it to improve the picture, but maybe this light is absolutely perfect, and the best way to find that out, is to take a test picture. So let’s get a shot like this, see how it
looks. Jade are you ready? Okay here we go.. and as you can see, it actually looks quite good at the moment. We’ve got sort of overcast lighting, so we’ve got lovely soft light on Jade. It’s fine, it’s quite safe. So I’m going to add some light into this scene, and it’s going to be light I’m in control of, and it’s going to come from the flashpoint Explorer 600, but before I actually use the light. I need to work out how low I can take the ambient light, because if I can add some drama by underexposing the ambient light, I can then fill in the shadows using the flashpoint light. So let’s see what we can do here. I’m going to set my camera to manual mode. I’m going to dial in f/11 and I’m going to go for a shutter speed. My flash sync speed of 250th of a second, ISO 200. Let’s take this shot! Here we go Jade. And as you can see, that looks slightly underexposed, but I can get even more drama out of the sky by closing my aperture today, a little bit more to f/16, and now we have a very dark underexposed shot, and that might seem a little bit crazy, but in fact that’s exactly what we want to do. If I can under expose the ambient light, I can then add in my own dynamic light here. If we switch it on, get it a little bit higher, and then we can get a flash meter and just meter this out. So remember, I’m shooting at f/16, that’s how much light I need to come out of this flash. Let’s meter it and see what we get, and I’m getting f/8 so not enough light is coming out of the flash to expose Jade correctly. I just need to adjust the flash up in power slightly. Meter it again I’m on f/16, so there we are, the flash matches my camera. Let’s take a shot like this, see how it looks, and that it’s really good. I got some really dramatic light that I’m in control of, and it looks a lot better than just the ambient light on its own. So with that in mind, let’s add some style to this, and get some shots Jade you ready? Okay here we go. We use two types of props for this shoot, the first was a large piece of red organza fabric, that’s lovely and floaty. Jade could hold it, or we could pin it to the back of her dress. Jade did her own hair and makeup in a vintage style, so we added a vintage camera to complete the look. Now it’s always a really good idea to try and do as much as you can, in camera to get the picture the way you want it. But you have to accept that occasionally there are things that post-processing can just do a little bit better, and this is one of those cases in point. So let’s have a look at the picture, here’s the picture. I want to edit and by large I’m reasonably happy with it, but the base here looks just a little bit on the bright side. So I’m going to darken that area down, and I’ve also got a sky that’s gone a bit gray, and I’ll explain that in a second. So let’s just go back into Camera Raw. I’ve already done a few basic edits here, that Camera Raw is a great place to do this, because I want to adjust the exposure and the white balance. So let’s deal with the exposure, along the base. Now I could use the graduated filter, but that will give me a very obvious straight line. I could use the radial filter, but that will give me more of a vignette. The tool of choice for me is the adjustment brush, and I’m going to change just the exposure. So everything is reset, apart from exposure. I’ll take it down to – one and a half stops, and then with a middle-of-the-road brush size, I guess I can just paint randomly, and the key word here is random, because we don’t want it to look too digital and straight, you want a little bit of randomness in here, because that’s what nature does. Once I’ve painted this in, I can adjust the exposure to get it just the way I want it, and I reckon probably round about there looks good. Now the sky… as I was taking the pictures, I could see the blue sky disappearing, and being rapidly replaced by a gray sky. Ah the worst sort of sky… just flat, and gray. Luckily I got just enough of the blue to make a bit of blue behind the model and the rest, well let’s have a little look. So I’m still on the adjustment brush, I’m gonna click on the new adjustment brush, and this time I’m just going to adjust the temperature. So let’s just bring the temperature down a little bit, not that much maybe, just a little bit down, something like that, and we’ll just pop a little bit of blue up there, too much and it would look really weird. Not enough and you’ll barely see it. There’s just a matter of trying to tie the two blues together, and that looks actually about right. There’s no magic to this, sometimes it either works or it doesn’t. So there we are, that’s the, the basic edit done, but the bit that’s perhaps I’m not sure about, and I don’t know whether I want to remove it or keep it. It’s the leaves in the top right corner. So let’s remove them, and then make that call. Now I’m going to use, the Spot Healing tool. No.. let’s use the Patch Tool. I reckon the Patch Tool is great, because I can draw over the area. I want to Patch and I’m going to do a, an accurate-ish drawing, doesn’t have to be perfect, but something like that. You missed a few bits, lets hold the shift key. Add in any areas that we’ve missed, and I missed a little bit down there as well, so once I’ve drawn my reasonably accurate selection, all I need to do is to move my cursor inside the selection, and then I can drag that patch area to an undamaged part of the picture, or at least as much of it as I can find and let go, because you’ll notice there is a large area of the cloth there, but I’m hoping… YES… that Photoshop can deal with that as well. It’s remarkably good at that. I used a structure of one, a color of three, different settings will yield different results, and maybe a little bit more fine-tuning. There it is, there’s my final picture completed. Well that went really well, despite the fact we didn’t have much long grass. Jade absolutely nailed the shots, and it looks fantastic. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video, don’t forget to leave me a comment below, and if you want to see more videos for myself and the other amazing presenters right here on AdoramaTV, you know what you got to do. You got to click on the subscribe button! I’m Gavin Hoey thanks for watching.

100 Replies to “Better Than Ambient Light: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey”

  1. Your videos were very informative and easy to follow..Well done! No worries about people that give thumbs down..they will always be haters.

  2. Gavin, how do you manage this vs using flash for fill? Would you underexposed the fill flash by a stop? Vs under exposing the BG? Thank you

  3. I love to do portraits and wanted to try strobes on location. Is there any budget strobe for outdoor photography which has battery pack? Because in location we may not get power supply.

  4. I have learned so much since finding your tutorials! I love your artistic style. I am an adorama loyal customer because of your videos lol

    I have not yet purchased a meter but I will..

    any idea what power you were on for these shots?

  5. What is especially good about the added light is that it not only lights the subject but delivers interesting highlights to the tall grass. You don’t notice that the tall grass is not spread throughout the field.

  6. Keep it simple, this is great…explained in a straightforward way without all the usual paraphernalia and egotisitical hoohah

  7. Too much technology. I do not like this unnatural light in contrast to the too dark sky, so be either a photographer

  8. Brilliant! I found this so insightful not just concerning off camera flash but also camera raw too. Thank you 🙏🏻🙂

  9. Gavin you'r one of the best of all you'r outdoor and indoor shooting projects are so interesting and are very easy to follow, not long-winded just down to earth, and this is up ther with the best . the lighting complements the location and the model is perfect for this type of shot. I try not to miss any of your videos or tips Adorama are lucky to have you onboard.

  10. Gavin your the best presenter ever. Any chance if you don't have big strobes but only simple on camera godex light strobe. Is it still possible to get those kind of effects.

  11. Hello Gavin. Love your videos. Can you answer me this question please. To shoot outdoor hss would the flashpoint streaklight 360 be enough or do you need the 600ws most of the time? I have seen you use both in your videos. Thank you sir. I inspire to be as good of a photographer as you are one day.
    Michael Davis

  12. Gavin and Mark are by far the best presenters of on you tube. Always showing the settings on how you got those shots for beginners. I do appreciate your time well spend with us all

  13. We all love Gavin! Ive had such success bending some of his ideas using my wonderful dancers…thanks Gavin!

  14. 200 ISO on daylight? And f/16? Little risky. If the camera's sensitivity can not be changed, I would use a ND filter 0.9 (8x) than you have sensitivity like ISO 25 and f/5.6 and 1/250 s. Ambient is still 2 stops underexposed and you don't need such strong light from flashlight. And maybe little bokeh. Nice job and pictures.

  15. I need a help , I recently bought a Nikon D5600 and the trouble I am going through is with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi , most important is Bluetooth cuz I wanna transfer my pics to my iPhone 6s as I take them .. so the problem is that I am not able to active my Bluetooth because it shows me as untouchable or unusable means basically it’s greyed out so when I touch or click it , it says the option not available in current settings and I have tried to change all the settings but still it’s greyed out n non usable … if some one went or going through this issue and really knows how to fix it please kindly let me know n help me out… and also I am totally confused with Wi-Fi settings which seems to be super complicated ….. please guys advice or help me out of this I am scratching my head n pulling my hair now it’s damn annoying …. also what settings should I change that when I taking picture I don’t need to see only on viewfinder and I can see my subject in the screen as well … please please help out your brother .. thanks in advance … sigh 😓😓😓

  16. Thanks, Gavin. I have learned a lot from you and I want to say a big thank you for all your videos you are full of details and brillant ideas please i need more videos from you to improve my works

  17. Yet another cracking video, cheers Gavin. I’ve recently converted to Olympus and I am chuffed to bits with my OMD EM1 Mkii, I am thinking about buying a Godox AD200, do you think it will have enough power to give similar results? Cheers in advance 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

  18. Thanks Gavin for your fun and educational videos! Would love to know the flash exposures you started with and settled on.

  19. Hands down my fav fella. So simple yet powerful results. Thank you thank you thank you Gavin!

  20. One issue I have discovered is that if the flash duration is faster than the shutter speed, than movement exposed by ambient light during the time the shutter is open, ruins the shot.

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