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Capturing Natural-Looking Flash Photography: A Step-by-Step Guide

8/09/2023 Matt 0 Comments


In the realm of photography, there's often a misconception surrounding the use of flash – the idea that flash photography inherently looks artificial and stark. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. In this tutorial, Pye Jirsa is going to debunk this myth and walk you through the process of achieving flash photography that emulates the beauty of natural light. And the best part? You only need your off-camera flash and a touch of creativity.

Setting the Stage

When diving into the world of natural-looking flash photography, you'll need a few essential tools. Begin by assembling your off-camera flash gear, which will consist of your chosen flash – any model will work – and a flash modifier.

profoto A magmad modifier

 In this tutorial, Pye is using the MagSphere for diffusion. Don't forget your trusty camera and lens – a 50mm prime or any lens of your choice will suffice.

The CAMP Framework

To achieve the most convincing natural light appearance with your flash, he is going to follow the CAMP framework: Composition, Ambient light, Modify light, Photograph. This structured approach will guide us through the process and help us avoid common pitfalls in achieving a natural look.

1. Composition

Composition is the foundation of any compelling photograph. The photographer positions his model, Kiara Zayas, between trees to create a visually pleasing background and add depth to the scene. By thoughtfully considering composition, you're setting the stage for the rest of the process.

2. Ambient Light

Balancing ambient light with your flash is crucial in achieving a natural look. To illustrate this point, he demonstrates how to adjust your camera settings to achieve the desired ambient exposure – for instance, using a wider aperture and lowering the shutter speed to allow more natural light into the shot.

3. Modify Light

Here comes the magic: modifying your flash light to blend seamlessly with the existing ambient light. This involves placing your off-camera flash strategically and using modifiers like the MagSphere to diffuse the light. By understanding the balance between ambient light and flash, you can manipulate the direction, intensity, and quality of light to create a harmonious effect.

Comparing the Results

Throughout the tutorial, Pye Jirsa provides a visual comparison of three shots: one with just ambient light, one with a flash balanced for dramatic effect, and one with a flash tailored for a natural appearance. 

natural ligthing portraits using flash with pye jirsa.JPG

The differences are striking – the flash-manipulated images still retain the essence of natural light but with added dimension and highlight on the subject's face.


In the world of photography, mastering flash techniques can be a game-changer. Dismissing the notion that flash yields an unnatural look, this tutorial has unveiled the secrets to capturing images that boast the beauty of natural light. By embracing the CAMP framework – Composition, Ambient light, Modify light, Photograph – you can effortlessly integrate flash into your photography toolkit to create images that are both captivating and authentic. So, whether you're photographing portraits, landscapes, or any scene in between, remember that the key lies in understanding light and harnessing its potential to create stunning visuals.

Image and video via MagMod