How to Balance Indoor and Outdoor light: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

Hi everybody welcome to another episode of Exploring Photography right here on AdoramaTV brought to you by Adorama. It’s the camera store that has everything for photographers like you and like me. Well I’m joined here by Natasha, and we are in an environment that you probably shoot in all the time. We have a really bright outside, big windows and a really dark inside. What we want to do is, I want to take a picture of Natasha inside and make sure I also capture the light from the outside and balance those two things. Well how do we do that? There are a bunch of different ways to do it but essentially what we want to do is we want to use an external Flash to add the appropriate amount of light to our scene, while still capturing the ambient light to the best of our ability. That’s a lot of words, but basically what it means is I have to first figure out how much light I need to have coming from my Flash, that’s the appropriate amount of light. I need to make it flattering, In other words, I need to use some kind of light modifier to make Natasha look great and then I have to figure out how to set my camera so that I don’t just get something that looks nasty. I need to have that ambient light coming in and capturing as much as I possibly can so those two things blend together so we’re going to do that in three different ways today. Now the easiest way to do this and if you’re shooting maybe summer family photos or Christmas portraits or something where you just need to do something really quick and easy and fast is to use this. This is your trusty old speed light the nice thing about speed lights is they have a feature built in to do exactly what you’re trying to do. So to do this, what we’re going to have you do, so Natasha is going to come over here and we’re going to have her maybe looking at some flowers and thinking awe it’s spring. So what we’re going to do, the first thing we need to do is to make sure that our flash is set to the correct mode and so you want to put this on TTL mode or E-TTL mode if you have a Canon Flash. That’s the standard default mode and then you have to turn on something called high-speed sync. Now I’ve already done that for this Flash. We’ve done a bunch of videos on high-speed sync, so make sure you check those out to know exactly how to do that or check your user manual. So the Flash is an E-TTL mode on high-speed sync now your camera what we want to do is to put this on Aperture priority mode. So AV on a Canon A on most other cameras, so that means we can set our aperture. The camera is going to figure out the correct shutter speed. On aperture priority mode what the camera will do is first expose for the ambient light and then adjust the flash automatically so that those two things match. It all just happens magically. So once we’ve done that let’s see exactly what we get. So Natasha is going to be looking at those flowers just like that, beautiful, that looks pretty good. We have one issue and that is when I take a picture the flash is bouncing off the window and so I need to make sure I’m at an angle and so that flash is bouncing into my picture but it works pretty well. I can also try to bounce up the ceiling but the problem with that is, you just need so much light that well sometimes it doesn’t work out. So this is great if you need something that works really fast. If you’re shooting something that’s not really expansive, maybe one person or two and if you’re working in that situation where to have a really bright sunlight, if you’re doing those types of things and we want a little bit more flattering light, a little bit better control? We need to go to the next step up and that’s an Off-Camera Flash system that we can use maybe a Softbox or an umbrella, so let’s do that next. Well those are a good start on the issue though with this speed light is, it’s such a small light source, that it has lots of specular highlights. In other words if we look really closely at the picture that we shot of Natasha, you can see, that her cheek is all shining. It looks like she’s sweating and it’s not even hot in here and so we want to make sure that we’re really complimentary to our subjects and so instead of using a really small light source, like the speed light, we’re going to go to the next step and that is to use a small off-camera flash Softbox. So Natasha if you’ll zip over there. Let me show you how I’ve set this up. So this is a two foot octave box from Pro Photo on an OCF, Off-Camera Flash system. Now the nice thing about the Profoto OCF system is it has high-speed sync, so I’m doing exactly the same thing I did with my speed light I’m using the TTL through the lens metering of my camera and I have set my remote here to make sure that I have it set to high-speed sync and TTL mode. Now that we’re just fully automatic. Then I’m using this nice soft box here and that’s going to soften the light so that Natasha’s face isn’t so shiny I can position this and start shooting. Now one of the things that is great about having an off-camera flash is I can change the direction of that light and that helps me avoid reflections in the glass. It also helps me shape the light in the way that I want to do that and so without further ado, we’re going to start shooting and I’ll show you my results. Well there’s a third scenario that we haven’t talked about and that is using a fully manual system, so I have over here I’ve got a Profoto Acute 2 pack. Now why would I want to use something that doesn’t have TTL when I’m doing something that’s difficult? Well the reason is if you want to do something a little bit more creative. So for example we want a full-length shot maybe we want a wide angle of the interior of the room. We need a lot more light and to make that light look pleasing we need a much larger light modifier and that means we need more power and more power comes from those manual systems they’re 1200, 2400 4,800 watt seconds. They’re really, really punchy and so we have to figure out how to do this it’s not as complicated as you might think. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to start with the ambient light because we can’t control it, we have to react to it. We can’t turn the Sun up and down and we can’t shut things on and off outside. We have to take what we can get so we have to start there and then we’ll make our adjustments to our flash to match that. So we’re going to do a little trick here because outside we have a really contrasting bright light and if I include the trees and the sky. Well I’m going to have all kinds of problems but the trees are actually darker than the sky and so what I’m going to do is, I’m going to meter on the trees out there using my camera’s built-in TTL metering. It’s really simple. I’ll put my camera in manual mode. I’m going to set my shutter speed at my camera’s sync speed, so when we’re using an external manual flash, we have a sync speed, which is the fastest our shutter can go. On this camera I’m going to stick to a 1/200 of a second. You might have a camera that does 250 maybe it’s 160 but for today we’re going to stick with 200 just to make sure everything is fine. Then I’m going to adjust my aperture until my meter shows me a proper exposure because we’re dealing with bright light. I’m keeping my ISO really low so I’m shooting at ISO 100. So ISO 100 shutter speed of 200. I point at these trees out here. I take a meter reading and I get a value of f/4 which is great that means we still get that shallow depth of field that we want now the next thing is to meter our flash so Natasha if you can go over here. We’ve given her a nice grape juice drink to emulate maybe a nice cocktail party or something and then what I have to do is I’m going to meter toward this light and so I’ve got everything set up with my PocketWizards. I meter that. It meters at 3 2 so I just need to make an adjustment. I’ll do that, take another meter reading. Now we’re at f/4 yeah so ISO 100 shutter 200 f/4 so now my flash and my ambient light agree and I can start taking pictures now one of the things I want to do in this situation, is to sort of eliminate a lot of the clutter in the room and so I’m going to use a long lens. I’m going to walk way over here and start taking pictures so I’ll do that and I’ll show you the before and after results. There you have it. Three ways to balance your flash with the ambient light. It’s not so difficult. Make sure you use high-speed sync, if you can and if you’re using a manual flash, start with the ambient light. Tune everything in and then just balance your flash to that and you’ll get some great results. Thanks Natasha for being a wonderful model today I think we’ve got some really good pictures and don’t you forget to subscribe to AdoramaTV, it’s absolutely free just click the button and subscribe today also check out the Adorama Learning Center there are tons of articles for doing Flash photography and light modifiers and rear curtain sync and high-speed syncing, all of those kinds of things. Check it out again it’s free, so do that. Thanks again for joining me and I will see you again next time.


  1. bflmpsvz June 1, 2017 at 3:49 am

    Sorry stupid question: Why do you measure towards flash when subject is the lady? I do not get it…

  2. Tyrone Turner June 1, 2017 at 4:33 am

    lol why is he barefoot.ย that's creepy lol ( great video btw)

  3. Troy Durrance June 1, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Why, in the first technique, was the flash set to 'high speed sync' and not just ettl?

  4. Dazzitto Wedding Photography June 1, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Great vid. You triggered the Acute2 with your PW. Been trying to do it with a Wistroย 360, can you please explain. Thanks

  5. Mead Rasheed June 1, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing

  6. Andrew C June 2, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Window light lends itself as a soft box in itself. This is one time I'd actually go natural light, this is subjective of course.

  7. Phil Kogan June 3, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    In the last example Mark used manual settings and the flash speed was set to the camera's sync speed of 1/200. But two of the "after" photos showed flash speed at 1/400. Did Mark change to HSS? If so, why?

  8. D X June 3, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    You don't need to do anything to Natasha.ย  She looks wonderful just the way she is, absolutely gorgeous.

  9. MonsieurNede June 3, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    "hoo it's spring"
    now you have a story to tell in your picture ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Gary June 4, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Hate to see a man with no shoes Mark! I've got some extras I could spare! Let me know! Ha Ha! Great tutorial as always! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Kryn Sporry June 4, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    Don't really understand the negative response below. I think Mark did a nice job building up from on camera speedlight to manual studio strobes, including touching on bounce flash. The model isn't the most interactive, but it's not about that on the video, plus, who knows she might have been lots of fun outside the clip we got to see.
    One thing though: Mark, you need to start working out mate! ?

  12. sanath chandana June 5, 2017 at 2:29 am

    Lot of thank

  13. opwave79 June 5, 2017 at 5:23 am

    This is very useful. My brother is the strobist. He's too busy working to explain all this to me, lol.

  14. TheTechnoLand June 5, 2017 at 7:06 am

    Mark isn't wearing shoes

  15. johan bauwens June 5, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    It's not hard to let Natasha look great ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. SonKings June 6, 2017 at 2:54 am

    Nice, a little too high key. But I like!

  17. John Wylie Jr June 6, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Excellent Mark.

  18. David Anderson June 6, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Long time since I caught up with your work Mark. Nice job, as always!

  19. Brian Phillips June 7, 2017 at 4:26 am

    In the beginning of the video, I assume you're using HSS because you're shooting at a shutter speed (1/400 as we later learn) faster than the camera's sync speed, but you indicated that you're shooting in Aperture Priority. On my 5DMKIII, if I try to shoot in Aperture Priority using HSS with my 600EX speedlight, the camera WILL NOT allow any faster shutter speed than the 1/200 sync speed of the camera, resulting in overexposed images. So, I end up shooting manual whenever I have to use HSS so that I can choose a faster shutter speed. Is there something I'm missing? Or something wrong with my 5D that prohibits it from shooting faster than the sync speed when the speedlight is on? Yes, the speedlight is set to HSS.

  20. Chris Corbin June 8, 2017 at 8:42 am

    could have been good to mention you were in matrix/evaluative metering, someone trying to copy this in spot metering would have all sorts of problems because they would have locked metering when half pressed on the subjects face.

  21. INNATE SOTO SSTRAUSS June 9, 2017 at 4:55 am

    …great video …kinda reminded me of a question i had about locations …say a client requires a hotel for location …who pays for the hotel …the photographer or the client?

  22. Sabyasachi Chatterjee June 10, 2017 at 6:24 pm


  23. El Mono June 12, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Nice shoes, Mark ! Oh, we are in Europe, that explains …. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Lyndon Smith June 16, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Great video. I really like Mark's teaching style. Natasha is stunning!

  25. wirsindheldenowns June 17, 2017 at 4:54 am

    LOLOLOL WTF Her wine disappeared!!!!

  26. Vakou Xiong June 20, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Mark, can this be done with the build-in flash?

  27. kishan Yannawar June 25, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    thanks, for most power full tips i lik

  28. Eyvindur C. June 29, 2017 at 3:08 am

    awe its spring.

  29. Tinkering Nerd July 7, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Natasha is pretty

  30. PhotoByFriday July 11, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Why is HSS necessary – that's what I don't get. If you're willing to have a large depth of field and shoot at ~F16 – why do you need HSS?

  31. airjaff July 31, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Got to congratulate this model for being in a constant mood throughout. What a joy to work with I'm sure!

  32. Hussein Abbas August 3, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    ุฌู…ูŠู„ ุฌุฏุง

  33. qwe1231 August 12, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Bounced image at 3:00 looks better than direct flash earlier.

  34. Andy V August 16, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    The only missing here is the Cozy Slipper for Mark's feet.

  35. Aleksander T. E. August 23, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    I'm no expert, but.. I wonder how they did this back 20-30 years ago without HSS ๐Ÿ™‚ If you measure outside to be F5.6 at ISO100 and 1/200, can't you just underexpose outside by using ex. F8 on camera, put softbox close, measure & adjust strobe to F8 – or whatever light ratio that suits you? I'm quite surprised how much HSS sells (and cost) when people can work around this with better settings and in worst case a $100 ND filter. I'm shooting with controlled lighting in a small amateur studio, so I'm not a regular HSS user. Those HSS strobes cost a lot more than regular ones, just asking myself if its worth the $ when people can work around it for less money…

  36. jitendra kumar August 24, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Natasha is so beautiful…

  37. Jungli 999 August 25, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Lol this is all wrong and I'm not even a professional

  38. Francis T August 29, 2017 at 1:14 am

    Did Mark just grab the flash from the model's hands?

  39. Arun Rohila August 30, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    This was very helpful, thank you. It would be nice to be able to do this for people on a budget.

  40. pe.sthlm September 12, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Thank you for this information and many thanks to the very pretty model ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. Manfred Oetting September 24, 2017 at 5:05 am

    Dear Mark Wallace, as I am not a native speaker the written subtitles in your video make that I completely understand what you are telling. And I learn new words. Thank you so much for that help! Your videos ar so helpful.

  42. BizWiz September 29, 2017 at 4:55 am

    Hey this is great stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you so much!

  43. Mxprod Studio October 16, 2017 at 5:59 am

    How do you use airmote With acute ?

  44. FerdinandFabros October 21, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    im inloved with her

  45. onzkicg October 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    In this video, I noticed that the huge help comes from that light meter device but I checked-so expensive ?.. any good way to learn how to flash meter by eye/guess?

  46. Anirudh Agarwal November 1, 2017 at 1:22 am

    Natasha does not like u… She ain't happy… Let her go home…

  47. Jj Benz December 9, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    That COULD be hot..

  48. Stunnaful Photos December 12, 2017 at 6:12 am

    Nice video man! Always enjoy viewing your vids!

  49. buddha Wedding Video Butwal [ December 14, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Good s

  50. AnchorKit Media December 18, 2017 at 4:14 am

    Thanks Mark for the great advice !!!

  51. Aniekan Daniel December 21, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    how can I use the metering system

  52. NIBRAS January 2, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Thank You So Much for this Wonderful Video. You can be a great Teacher.. No You are a great Teacher.

  53. juanpoint8 January 5, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    You don't need such a big modifier to adjust your flash to M lol. Why is it being made to seem that you couldn't set your setup to Manual mode unless its super big? You can use the same fundamentals in every mode as you taught at toward the end.

  54. Max January 8, 2018 at 5:56 am

    8:49 i'm sorry but how a single softbox (close to your subject) can lite up an entire room + the whole body. See, those before & after results are simply full of post-edition and people (your customers) should be aware of that. Still, the metering technic shown in this video is an essential tip.

  55. Jim Mauch January 18, 2018 at 12:13 am

    If you have light coming through tree leaves that is causing a marked green hue with the ambient light how do you compensate for difference in colors between the ambient and flash?

  56. Nauman Ahmed January 27, 2018 at 2:59 am

    That cheek light has become a new trend for make up artists, n it has become more difficult to take a rightly exposed photo of already over exposed cheek

  57. Supriyo Dutta February 7, 2018 at 2:04 am

    This is very useful video for newcomers in photography.

  58. garethininverness February 7, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    her face is shinny as look at the amount of bloody makeup

  59. kashie007 February 20, 2018 at 8:02 am

    What white balance would you use in camera when flash and ambient light sources are present?

  60. Steve Craig February 24, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Mark, would you do a video on shooting in a room with florescent lights using a speed light.

  61. Di Torres March 4, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Nice video. My only question is where can i get an android like Natasha?

  62. JoeDoe_ Outdoors March 5, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Hey sweet channel โ˜บ Keep it up!

  63. Vortex March 16, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    I miss Alexa

  64. Jason Bodden April 2, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    I swear you people are blind. She gives a smile at 3:37.

  65. ron drake April 9, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    love this video. im lost in one part. when you set your camera to manual, 1/200 iso 100 to meter off the trees…how does it set the f stop to f4.0 Im confused!

  66. Nevana Himor April 19, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    Love learning so much from all Adorama videos. I got a problem with this kind of shot last week, it's in a medium sized hotel room with windows facing a great nightview of glittering Skyskappers. I couldn't make the view outside appear. I hope you guys could make a video tutorial from this kind of scenario.

  67. Jeff Lennan May 7, 2018 at 12:10 am

    What about shooting video, I am new to lighting techniques, and I had my son you against a very bright window and he was just a silhouette. Should I still use a soft box for this? or more directional light at his body?

  68. Eustace Victor May 14, 2018 at 2:16 am

    Great stuff

  69. DaveSincere May 19, 2018 at 12:13 am

    That final picture is PERFECTION..

  70. SwissPL May 20, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Great video

  71. The Deerfield Diaries June 12, 2018 at 4:57 am

    Why is he barefoot?

  72. Leon August 9, 2018 at 3:42 am

    Great tutorial, thanks. Most of us don't have option 2 and 3. There's perhaps an option 4: multiple flash

  73. srawan chaithanya September 27, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    U should have given Natasha a dialogue……or atleast a gesture

  74. John Kiene September 30, 2018 at 2:36 am

    I typically will just bounce my on-camera speed light off the ceiling with the flash card flipped up and then manually adjust the flash to match the ambient light. Saves me a lot of time. Mostly however I just face the hot Russian girl toward the window light and my flash is in my camera bag.

  75. Lee Dilloway October 19, 2018 at 10:39 am

    She looks like she'd be fun at parties

  76. Matej Podlesnik October 26, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Natasha stretch those lips, they are made for smiling ๐Ÿ™‚ Nice video

  77. mintyfresh breath October 28, 2018 at 10:11 am

    was gonna watch….but dude has bare feet…fuck that.

  78. Milind Kulkarni October 29, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Can you please detail about how to take in-camera meter readinng (you have taken f-value of the light coming from the rees, in this video). Thanks

  79. agentaxe October 31, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Ceiling photo was awesome for me!Nice video!

  80. Nature Good November 1, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    Natasha likes your flash

  81. Craig McAllester November 5, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    You always make it look easy!

  82. Sadiq Nuriyev November 27, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Everey shot ETTL

  83. Dan Morgan December 6, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Thank you for the explanations. But what if I wanted a shallow depth of field while using a Profoto 1200 pack? it would be pretty tricky to handle this window light with your x-sync (1/200th) and not having a HSS on your remote.

  84. Mody Yosef December 9, 2018 at 5:34 am

    how i meter light using camera ttl?

  85. aghi sakuma December 23, 2018 at 10:32 am

    What happen to Natasha sir? I concern

  86. shadi atallah December 29, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks for good vedeo. ..
    I have canon 6d and speed light canon 580 ex ii …
    What the highest shutter speed I get if I want to do like first photo. .
    Thanks a lot. ..

  87. axel feris January 16, 2019 at 10:41 pm


  88. beerborn January 19, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Who stole your shoes?

  89. Dev Guy January 21, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    why would you not use a diffuser with a speedlight?

  90. nolaPIC January 25, 2019 at 6:22 am

    why r u barefoot?

  91. jefhrey Javier January 26, 2019 at 9:28 am

    where are your shoes?

  92. Michael Franzyshen January 27, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    How do you typically handle the white balance in a mixed light scene like this? Shoot a white balance card?

  93. Eviktion February 22, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    It really bothers me that you're completely barefoot. That feels very unprofessional and is super distracting.

  94. BBC, NHK and CNN Special News and Commentaries March 5, 2019 at 4:06 am

    DA 16-50mm f2.8, DA 50-135mm f2.8, DA 70-200mm f2.8 which one is better? If you have a limited buying capacity!

  95. Ahmed Ayari March 10, 2019 at 7:35 am

    thank you very much Mark

  96. Eric Fusire March 16, 2019 at 6:50 am

    Now you are teaching us to use automatic modes?

  97. Wendy McRae March 23, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Wow, some of you guys have nothing better to do than make comments about bare feet and bash the model? Who cares, it's a tutorial on balancing flash!

  98. Vijaykumar Muthukrishnan March 26, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Nice Teaching, I Love It.

  99. Sandy Satryawan April 4, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Super vid ? thank you mister flash, great job, i like it โค๏ธ

  100. Muza Abdullah August 23, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Cam someone please help me how to shoot if opposite: when background is very dark and subject is at the bright point. How to blend them together evenly?

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