I am doing a shoot outdoors from 5:00 PM, which is still harsh sun light, and the client would like it to have a moody and Gothic theme.

What are some strategies to fight against that? My own initial thought is to use high speed sync (as my TTL flash and camera can go up to 1/8000 sec) and also bring down the ISO to my normal camera range which is 64, but still shoot with an open aperture to get some shallow depth of field (and not have all telephone polls in the background).

I should also choose wisely which lighting equipment to use but this will be my first time using them actually! I just ordered and received them! Here is the list but I need your help and input on what to use most:

  • Two Profoto B1s with Air TTL remote
  • Profoto Umbrella deep Silver and White and Translucent
  • Profoto Beauty Dish with Grid
  • Profoto Zoom Reflector 2 with grids
  • Profoto Wide Zoom Reflector
  • Profoto Octa 2" softbox , with grid

For example, I saw that one of their photographers was recommending using the deep silver umbrella to generate more light and save battery power on flashes. Is that the right approach?


2 Answers 2


The idea is to overpower the relative ambient light with the flash.

So the first step would be to diminish the ambient light, with either shutter speed, ISO settings, and probably ND filter.

If you use a fast shutter speed function on a flash, there is a chance the flash will not work with full power but a fraction, because it is using a series of bursts. But you will need to make some tests. That would depend on the flash.

A neutral density filter could help, but again, it is dimming in the same proportion the flash as the ambient light. If you need to use a wide aperture to control the DoF, it is a good choice.

So you first determine the ambient light using these variables.

Then adjust the flash power, duration, or distance to make a proper exposition on the subject.

If you use flash in close range to the subject, this way you can easily overpower the sunlight.


You could try using a Neutral Density (ND) filter to reduce the amount of light that enters the lens. This also allows you to have a more open aperture and get a shallower depth of field when shooting.

The type of ND filter you should use depends on how dark you want it, but for outdoor portraits when it's sunny, you'd typically use a ND102 or ND103 filter, which stops down 2 and 3 f-stops, respectively.

In addition to fixed-stop ND filters, you can also get variable ND filters. With a Vari ND filter you simply turn a dial on the filter to adjust the number of stops. They're typically more expensive than regular ND filters, and some slight vignetting or distortion can occur, but I don't see it as a big issue.

Lee, Hoya and B&W all make great ND filters.


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