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Overpower One Light Source

A final, very popular, solution for mixed lighting is to overpower one of the light sources. In short, you introduce a gelled flash into the scene and use it to overpower the weaker light source. In some situations, when you cannot turn off overhead light and cannot move your subject, overpowering at least one of the mixed light sources may be your only option.

In the record store scenario, for example, one option is to overpower the daylight window and white balance for tungsten light. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Set your white balance. Set a custom white balance using an ExpoDisc. You could also use a gray card or use the Tungsten white-balance preset on your camera. This way, you are set up to capture the existing color temperature, plus the light you are about to add to the scene.
  2. Gel your flash. Use an off-camera flash, and gel your flash with a CTO gel to turn the flash to a tungsten white balance. Now your flash white balance will match the white balance of the ambient light. (Under other lighting conditions, you may need to use different gels to match the ambient light.)
  3. Position your flash. Place your flash near the light source that you are mimicking. At the record store, you’re mimicking window light and therefore need to place the flash high and outside the window like the sun.
  4. Power your flash. Be sure your flash overpowers the ambient light: in this case, the daylight from a window. Due to the contrasty nature of the scene, manually setting your flash’s power will give you the most reliable results. You will also need a lot of light to overpower the daylight, so you may want to look at small flash options beyond the standard speedlights. The Qflash from Quantum ( has a higher power output with many of the same features. If you are comfortable with studio flash on location, try a portable studio strobe.
  5. Shoot! We think you will be pleased with the results (Figure 4.9).
    Figure 4.9

    tic.jpgFigure 4.9. By turning the flash to a tungsten light source, you can match the ambient light indoors and overpower the daylight. The result is an even color balance!

Another option for lighting this record store scene is to allow the daylight from the window to illuminate the subject and use a daylight-balanced flash to bounce off the ceiling or light the background, overpowering the tungsten light source. Now all lighting elements in the frame are daylight balanced. Ideally, you would turn off the tungsten lights in the room and use the daylight flashes to be the sole source of illumination. Remember the importance of white balance no matter which solution you choose. Stick a gray card in the scene to use as a reference in your post-processing, as seen in Figure 4.10.

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10. Don’t forget the importance of white balance. You can use a gray card (seen here) to create a point of reference for correcting white balance in post-processing, shoot with an ExpoDisc, or use built-in white- balance presets.

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