How often do pros use lighting outdoors?

splproductions

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When photographing people outdoors, how often do pros use lighting, specifically off-camera flash? I've had a few times where we've hired a family friend or "friend of a friend" to do outdoor photography of my family, and they never used off-camera flash. We just walked around and found good places near groups of trees, the barn, etc. The pics looked awesome. But then again, some people on here would probably classify these girls we hired as semi-pro, and maybe a pro would have used OCF.

The reason I ask is because I'm learning all about Speedlighting from Syl Arena's book, and its got me excited. But since my only "studio" is my kitchen or living room, lots of my shots of my family are probably going to be outdoors. I'm just wondering how much I want to invest in umbrellas and softboxes (I have one of each) and Speedlights (have one right now) if I won't really use them much outside. (I'm already set with my glass, so any additional money would probably go toward lighting).

Thanks!
 

Rephargotohp

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Every model shoot you see done outdoors, every movie /TV show you see shot on the beach that looks like natural light....Not
 

c.cloudwalker

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Every time.

I don't shoot people much although I wouldn't mind :)

But it doesn't matter what you shoot outdoors, you will need lights unless you are shooting some artsy-fartsy thing and can get away with natural light...
 

Buckster

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From my point of view, it's kind of like asking, "How often does a professional photographer use a blonde as a model?" Well, that depends on what the photographer is trying to achieve for a final look. For a light and airy sunny day in a field of sunflowers, the blonde may be perfect. For a dark Halloween style witches' brew shot, maybe a brunette would work better.

Here's another, "How often does a professional photographer use a 50mm lens?" Depends on what the photographer is trying to achieve, and whether a 50mm lens makes sense for that shot.

How often does a professional photographer use a graduated ND filter? Depends on what the photographer is trying to achieve, and whether a graduated ND filter makes sense for that shot.

Lighting is the same way - it depends on too many factors to say "yes, you need to use them" or "no, you don't need to use them". It varies from shot to shot, circumstance to circumstance, location to location, model to model, time of day to time of day, goal of the shot to goal of the shot, and so much more. Depending on the final vision, sometimes you need more light, sometimes you don't. Sometimes it enhances, sometimes it doesn't. And it always depends on how it's used, when it's used, if it's used. Sometimes, all you need is available light, sometimes you need a reflector, sometimes you need more than that - it all depends on the shot you're trying to achieve and the conditions you're faced with.
 

MLeeK

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You can get some good natural light portraits outdoors, but it's much easier with much nicer skies and backgrounds if you use lighting.
Most people have such an emotional attachment to the image that they don't see what's so wrong with it-like mottled light, blown out skies, etc. So, people get away with it even when it isn't good natural light imaging
 

Rephargotohp

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The thing is with great photography is you either Find Great Light, or you create it. Now shooting Landscapes or still lifes you can just wait till that great light is there.
But when shooting portraiture, you don't always get that choice , especially doing it professionally. Client wants to shoot at straight up noon. You can't say always say, I can't shoot then.
So you must know how to control light to shoot at any time or practically any weather too. That may mean Strobes/Flashes/ Scrims/diffusers Reflectors
 

CCericola

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I agree with Buckster. If it's not external lighting, it is reflectors. It all depends on the lighting outside and what you are photographing. It is all about manipulating the light using various tools. It is up to the professional to know what to use to get the picture they want.
 

c.cloudwalker

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From my point of view, it's kind of like asking, "How often does a professional photographer use a blonde as a model?" Well, that depends ... and the conditions you're faced with.

:thumbdown:

It really doesn't depend. The OP is asking about Pros and pros will use strobes (or at the very least reflectors) outdoors to make sure they get the right image. Period.

Now, I agree, the OP then mentions a friend of a friend... and that probably means someone who basically knows very little about photography but has a big camera with a big lens. Do we really want to pay attention to what that "friend of a friend" is doing?
 

Buckster

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From my point of view, it's kind of like asking, "How often does a professional photographer use a blonde as a model?" Well, that depends ... and the conditions you're faced with.

:thumbdown:

It really doesn't depend. The OP is asking about Pros and pros will use strobes (or at the very least reflectors) outdoors to make sure they get the right image. Period.
Not "period" - "how often".

Answer: When appropriate.
 

Buckster

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Now, I agree, the OP then mentions a friend of a friend... and that probably means someone who basically knows very little about photography but has a big camera with a big lens. Do we really want to pay attention to what that "friend of a friend" is doing?
That depends on what results that friend is achieving, but more importantly, we should be paying attention to the many photographers, past and present, who've achieved wonderful results with portraits outdoors without using additional lighting. Or are you going to throw them all out as crap without even looking at any of them, including the best of them, simply because they used only natural light to achieve certain results?

I'm going to stick with, "When appropriate - it depends on the situation."
 

c.cloudwalker

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^^^^^^

I thought that was very clear. Every time.

Only as a PJ, or landscape shooter, did I not use extra light outdoors.

Nothing personal Buckster, I appreciate you and your work. But as a pro, the outdoor light is never quite what is either needed or wanted and it's always going to be modified in some way. Either with strobes, reflectors or diffusers. And most often it's going to be a combo of those.
 

tirediron

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^^^^^^

I thought that was very clear. Every time.

Only as a PJ, or landscape shooter, did I not use extra light outdoors.

Nothing personal Buckster, I appreciate you and your work. But as a pro, the outdoor light is never quite what is either needed or wanted and it's always going to be modified in some way. Either with strobes, reflectors or diffusers. And most often it's going to be a combo of those.
I have to debate that point with you Cloudwalker; granted most shots would benefit from at the least the use of a reflector, if not one or more lights, but it's not always. This shot was taken at a family photo shoot I did last summer - we'd moved from one location in the park to another, and Mom had put her daughter down, and I was in the process of turning to get something out of my kit, and saw her, dropped down to the ground and grabbed the shot. Is the lighting perfect? Absolutely not, BUT would I have got that shot, captured that expression if I'd spent a minute or two buggering around with reflectors and lights? Doubt it... Therefore, I submit that in this case it was NOT APPROPRIATE to use any sort of lighting, since it would have meant losing the shot.
 

Buckster

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^^^^^^

I thought that was very clear. Every time.
Yes, you were very clear. You're also very wrong. Example:

http://www.pronaturephotographer.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/fred_witzel.jpg

In this portrait of the rancher, the light is fabulous as the sun sits literally on the horizon about to set. It is very warm and the contrast is low making it perfect for this portrait. He is just about back lit or really closer to what they call ‘short lighting’ as the sun rims his face and front side. There is no flash or reflector because the light is so soft that none is needed because there is plenty of shadow detail.

"Every time", as though it's a law? Sorry, but no.

Only as a PJ, or landscape shooter, did I not use extra light outdoors.
Your preference doesn't make it everyone's preference, nor does it make you right by default and anyone who disagrees with you wrong. Get over yourself.

Nothing personal Buckster, I appreciate you and your work. But as a pro, the outdoor light is never quite what is either needed or wanted and it's always going to be modified in some way. Either with strobes, reflectors or diffusers. And most often it's going to be a combo of those.
Nothing personal with me either, but I think you need to expand your ability to see and use available light if you think it MUST ALWAYS EVERY TIME require additional strobes or at least reflectors.
 

Derrel

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The BIG reflectors and scrims are gaining more popularity the last few years, especially in areas with good, bright light like Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, etc, as well as Hawaii, the Atlantic island locations,Australia, etc.etc.. The Sports-Illustrated location stuff is now 90% or so being done with crews of 8-10 men + the photographer and his assistant, and LOADS of different reflectors,diffusers, and scrims, awnings, etc.(Check out California SunBounce's web site for just one example) On the other hand, the "new", low-cost, portable sine wave inverters from Innovatronix and Paul C. Buff are making it very affordable and lightweight to shoot using studio strobes on-location. Not so much need for generators and fuelk as there used to be. Plus Speedotron and ProFoto and Elinchrom ALL have new, high-power battery-powered flash systems. Those exist because there is a market for them!
 

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