Natural Light Portrait with Flash

This photography class follows on from the previous chapter, where Karl explained how to take natural light portraits. Here, he demonstrates how fill-in flash from a simple flash gun (speedlight) can also work to good effect for outdoor portrait photography.

Karl also covers the technical aspects of how to use a flash, including how to change the output power and colour balance.

In this class:

  • How to take great portrait photographs
  • Outdoor portrait photography using speedlites
  • Flash photography tips when working outdoors
  • How to control flash output power
  • Changing colour balance of flash

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hello Karl.
    Can you get the same results adjusting the composition parameters (iso, speed, aperture) instead using flash?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi no not really, if you increased the ambient exposure to increase light on the model then your background exposure will increase too and may overexpose. If you use a fill reflector or flash then you control the light on the model as you like and on the background exposure as you like.

  2. Hi Karl,

    I have two Lights 1. Godox AD200 & Godox TT350. I watched most of your videos and learn many things.

    I want to Know more about Multi Function available on the Flash along with TTL & Manual.

    Could you plase let me know the purpose of it and when the use it

    Thank you in advance..

    1. Hi, thank you. I would recommend you don’t get absorbed into TTL and other features. Remember a flash is a source of light that can go from a low power to a high power just like you can turn your music up or down. Fundamentally that’s all it can do is put out light at a certain angle and a certain power. You choose the aperture that you want to shoot at and then you can manually tell your light how much power you want it to put out. All the other features are ‘automated’ versions of that, for example TTL is ‘through the lens metering’ which put simply means that the camera measures the amount of light and then tells the flash ‘OK that’s the right amount’. This mode will not get it right most of the time but can be useful if you’re in a hurry.

  3. Hi Karl, I have a question, when I use the speedlite as you teach , and I turn the camera to M mode , and when I look into camera finder the light metter is not moving to the focus as usual when I am not using speedlight , its make me couldnot find the focus . Coold you expalin to me please? should I move the ligtmetter to the point of thecenter.
    I am using triger manytime , but the lightnetter still moving and easy to find the focus area. Thank you

  4. Hi Karl, so happy to learn from you 🙂
    Just noticed that the equipment list says Canon 5D Mark III
    Canon 85mm f/1.2 Prime, while the Cam you’re using is 1 DX 🙂


  5. Hello Karl, quick question. How do you adjust the exposure when shooting directly into the sun as to not have the subject looking silhouette – ish. Would you even use a ND or polarizing filter?

    1. Hi DaRon, if you start in our ‘Essentials’ section I teach you how to fully understand using your camera in Manual. Once this knowledge is aquired (takes about 2 hours and a couple of days of practise) then you will know exactly how to adjust your exposure when shooting into the sun. Cheers Karl.

    1. Hi Wei, in this case it was better to have the flash direct at the model as it was almost directly backlit so it would have probably looked a bit unnatural if it was coming from the side. But in many other situations it is nicer to use off camera flash.

  6. Please I want to ask you something very important, are you making some edits to the photo befor you show it to us ?

    1. Hi Lachen not on the photos in this particular chapter or many others. In the fashion and beauty chapters there is burn and dodge work mostly and skin retouching but you can learn how to do that in our ‘Post Production’ section.

  7. Hi Karl,

    Do you recommend flash diffusers in such occasions to get a softer light on the model’s face? If not, why please?

  8. hi Karl
    can I ask please if when using flash In natural light., and you want to create a scene where the background is almost/ completely blackout while keeping your model correctly lite
    what setting is required, with your ISO set low maybe 50-100 an aperture starting at about f/5.6 to f/16?? Shutter speed at 1/125s+.
    Do I expose for the model, or expose for the background and let the flash light the model etc.
    Thanks for your feed back,

    1. Hi Prathesh, in this case I just put the flash in manual mode, start at a low power and then just increase it until you get to the power of light that looks good, this is exactly how you work with studio lighting (even on location) so this is how I work with small speedlites too.

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