Location Work

by William Lulow

These days, there are fewer and fewer big budget assignments out there. Even advertising photographers who have been used to shooting with a large staff, portable generators, location vans, stylists, scouts and talent, have had to pare down their budgets. More jobs with portable lighting situations and a DIY attitude have been the norm lately. Sometimes photographers can’t fit assistants and stylists in the budget and so have had to rely on their own talents to provide these services where needed. The ability to balance speedlight and ambient light has always been important, but even more so these days. One practitioner of “on-the-fly” editorial photography has said, “Meter the light you can’t control…” and then fit your other lights around that exposure. That sounded like a good place to start, because that’s what most of us do anyway. You don’t want to have blown out backgrounds when you’re shooting with available light, so the best way to handle a situation like this is to meter the outside light and then adjust your fill-flash to equalize the exposure.

This executive shot was made by metering the outside (which I found to be f/8) and then setting up the light (a portable Dynalite studio strobe with a power pack) to give the same reading on the subject. Remember, it’s the lamp-to-subject distance that gives the exposure when you’re working with speedlights or strobe. You can easily make an image like this with portable speedlights.  If you have the time and budget, studio strobes are more reliable and you don’t have to worry about batteries.