Shooting in a controlled environment like a studio is pretty straight forward. In the studio, you, the artist, has complete control over your space and your light.
When on location, however, you are often at the mercy of your surroundings.
When I’m shooting in a client’s home, the first thing I do is take note of the available light.
Most of the time, I will want my strobe to mimic the natural light. By noticing what the natural light is doing, I can use my strobe to enhance what is already there.
To do this, I place my strobe as close as I can to the area where natural light is coming from.
(See the example below.)
In this situation, I was shooting in a room that had a floor to ceiling north facing window. There was way too much natural light to over power with a strobe. If I had placed the strobe on the other side of the room the window light would have acted as fill, and I would have ended up with a flat, boring, “flashy” looking image.
By placing the light one the same side of the room as the window however, I was able to enhance the natural light that was already there. The strobe took me from a meter reading of f2 at 1/15 to f4 at 1/60 and allowed me to get plenty of adorable shots of the family I was working with.
Contax 645, Fuji 400h
This technique is easily used when shooting Lifestyle work as well. Again, I use the strobe to enhance the natural light, creating a soft, very natural looking image.
If the room you are working in is large, you may want to add a second light on the opposite side.
Cannon Elan 7e, Fuji 400h
Again, in the image below, I use the strobe to enhance the natural light in what was a very dark room.
The image below was taken on my digital camera with no strobes.
And here is the same scene, shot with the same settings (but with strobe) moments later.
And here is the film.