Perfecting Outdoor Portraits With Scrim + Flash | Lighting 201

Posted by on Oct 6, 2015 in Featured, Photography Tips, portrait

Perfecting Outdoor Portraits With Scrim + Flash | Lighting 201

Sun + Scrim + Flash = Perfection

In this article and video, I want to demonstrate how shooting with the sun, a scrim, and your flash can add a night and day difference to your photos. Don’t believe me? Check out this awesome before and after image!

Left: Direct Sunlight Only | Right: 3x Phottix Mitros+ with Westcott Scrim Jim

Lighting 201: Single Source Off-Camera Light Shaping

This article and video are from the SLRLounge Lighting 201 Workshop.

  • Get the Flash Off Your Camera – In this workshop, we will focus on helping you perfect any scene with only the use of a single off-camera light source!
  • Comprehensive Guide to Lighting Gear – This workshop begins by helping you better understand and master all the different types of lighting gear and technologies. We discuss everything from budget and inexpensive gear to medium and higher quality gear. All the while, we stress that regardless of the type of equipment you use, you can still end up with professional quality results!
  • Advanced Creative Techniques – In this workshop (and this video!), we emphasize creative light control over corrective light control and show you how to use your single off-camera flash to get interesting new looks to your images. Lighting 201 will teach you everything from backlighting your subjects for creative effect, using light modifiers and DIY gobos to manipulate light, and other techniques to help take your images to the next level.

Perfecting Outdoor Portraits With Scrim + Flash | Lighting 201

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The Almighty Scrim

If you have watched any of our workshops or videos, you’ll know that we love to use the scrim inside our 5-in-1 Westcott Reflector to cut down or soften the light. For Lighting 201, our most advanced lighting workshop to date, we wanted to raise the bar on our scrim game, which is why we’re using the Westcott Scrim Jim!


Disclaimer: We could have easily shot this with the scrim from the Westcott 5-in-1, so if that’s all you have, don’t feel like you need to go out and buy a Scrim Jim. In this scenario, the larger Scrim Jim allows us to completely cover our model in shade, and it enlarges our flash’s light source, giving us a softer light.

3 Steps To Perfecting Outdoor Portraits With Scrim + Flash

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Taking outdoor portraits is easy; you just need some practice and patience.

Step 1: Place Your Subject Facing the Sun

This may seem counterintuitive if you’re used to using the sun as a hair or back light. For this shot, we’re working with the sun.


Step 2: Scrim Your Subject

The scrim is going to diffuse all the light falling on our model. The keyword here is Lighting Ratio. Look at the image above without the scrim, do you see how bright her skin is compared to her hair? Now look at the scrim’d version below. Notice how the exposure difference between her skin and her hair are much closer.


Step 3: Add Your Flash

Now you add your flash, shooting through the scrim alongside the natural light. This is where patience is required because you may have to tweak your lights in order for the exposure to be perfect.


Outdoor Portraits With Sun + Scrim + Flash Gallery



Learn More About Lighting 201!

If you want to take your photography, lighting, and portraits to the next level, then you should definitely check out Lighting 201. Complete with 10 full hours of education, we teach you how to create stunning images with just a single off-camera flash. This workshop includes everything from us giving you a detailed guide to a variety of lighting gear to taking you on 20 of our own real shoots to show you how to use your flash in action.


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