Balance Your Flash With the Sunset

Balance the Sunset with Flash

We all want a bit of drama in our images. What about seeing the sunset and your subject nicely lit? Let’s balance the sunset and flash! Keep reading to learn how.

Some Background

The following images and video are from a shoot I did a few weeks ago, when Andrea, my client, asked for professional portraits, but we added a bit of drama and color to the final images. Follow along, so you can do this too.

The Gear

The gear that I used in this shoot was my Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF35mmF1.4 R for medium and wide shots, and the XF56mmF1.2 R for closeups. I used only one Godox TT685f, inside a Photoflex small OctoDome, controlled with the Godox X1Tf transmitter.

Everything was recorded on a Fujifilm X-E3 with the XF10-24mmF4 OIS and RØDE VideoMicro on top. However, it was a seriously windy situation outside and I forgot the deadmouse mic cover, so the audio was unusable :-(

Indoors – Office Shoot

We started this shoot indoors in an office building, so we could start with the more formal and serious images first, Andrea would get used to being directed and we also waited for the sun to set.

I did these first images balancing the ambient light first, which gave me an exposure of ISO 800, f/2.5 and 1/60s. I then added the flash at 1/32 power. The exposure was good but a bit flat to my taste, so I changed time to 1/250s to reduce ambient light. I also opened the diaphragm to f/2.2, so she would have a bit more separation from the background.

Andrea T 01
Andrea T 01

Outdoors – The Terrace (and the wind!)

Right at sunset we stepped outside to the terrace, which has a nice view to the west, so the sky was already turning pink. The terrace has a narrow corridor that created a draft, so it was a bit of a problem but we found two spots where the wind wasn’t so strong and the view was still nice.

The technique was, in essence, the same as indoors. I started with a natural exposure for the ambient, which was ISO 200, f/2.8 and 1/250s. Adding the flash at 1/32 power proved to be the right setting to light Andrea, because we kept the distance from her to the flash.

Andrea T 04
Andrea T 04

From here on, the setting that changed the most was the exposure time, because we were constantly adjusting so the ambient looked more or less uniform. The last images were shot at 1/30s. I used a tripod all the time, so the longer times were not a problem.

Andrea T 03
Andrea T 03

The only times when I changed the aperture to f/2 were when I also changed the composition and went for a wider shot, which meant moving the flash a bit farther from Andrea.

Andrea T 05
Andrea T 05


Back home and using Lightroom, I made sure all images had a similar color temperature, adjusted the shadow levels and added a bit of vignetting.

That’s it! That’s how I balanced the ambient light and flash, so I could then tweak the image a little to create the desired effect.

How about you? Have you tried balancing ambient light and flash? How was it?