Outdoor Portraits

by William Lulow

Many people think that because they take pictures outdoors, they really don’t need to use a flash. But, a flash used as a fill-in light, that is to fill in shadows produced by sunlight, is the best way of letting the camera see what our eyes see. Our eyes are extremely sensitive. We can detect detail in both bright sunlight and dark shadows, often at the same time. Even extremely sensitive CCDs or films do not have the range of the human eye. So, as I have said often before, we need to help the camera “see” what we want it to.

I always have a portable flash with me when I shoot outdoors. I always try not to let the flash overpower the ambient sunlight, but sometimes, because it is so much closer to the subject than the sun, it casts its own shadows. Oftentimes, the shadows caused by flash used outdoors is not detrimental to the overall mood of the photograph.