As summer approaches, we will want to be spending more time outdoors enjoying the weather and capturing beautiful photography. One common issue that occurs with this however, is dealing with the bright light from the sun during a Summer day. With this in mind, we have taken a look at a selection of lighting options available to see which would be best suited for dealing with sunny conditions.
What type of lighting is best?
When it comes to which lighting to use for Photography in sunny conditions, the only suitable option for this is battery powered flash, as flash units would always offer the highest quality Photography compared to LED Lighting. Using battery flash is a must also as on location you may be unable to access mains power easily, plus battery flash gives you the freedom to adjust the placement of the light without issue due to no external cables being required. With this in mind, lets break down our battery flash lighting options to see which are the best suited.
For the most part, Speedlites are ideal location flash units due to their compact design and the ability to be used directly on your camera’s hot-shoe to remove the need for any stands. Unfortunately, when it comes to shooting during bright sunny conditions, Speedlites would not be the most suitable option. Most Speedlites would offer a power range of approximately 60W which simply is not strong enough to deal with overpowering bright sunlight. Speedlites would be better suited for shooting at early mornings & late evenings or in cloudier conditions, where they would not be required to deal with such strong sunlight.
We offer a selection of Speedlites to choose from, the Li-ION350, Li-ION580 and the GIO1, each offering their own unique features. One benefit for these Speedlites compared to third-party Speedlites would be that these feature rechargeable lithium-ion batteries rather than using standard AA Batteries. The positive to using these batteries is that with standard AA batteries, sometimes running at full power and using High-Speed Sync runs the risk of overheating and also sometimes leads to reduced consistency in performance towards the end of the battery life, but the lithium-ion batteries offer consistent performance across the entire battery life and reduce any overheating issues. The PiXAPRO range of speedlites also come with High-Speed Sync available, which is essential for overpowering any additional lighting in the shooting location. So, if you place the Speedlite close to the subject and use High-Speed sync, you may be able to deal with the sunlight on an average day, but during a sunny Summer day, you will still struggle to properly deal with this.
Pocket flashes are relatively new flash lighting units and are named this due to the more compact size compared to a standard battery flash unit. Pocket flashes usually fall somewhere between a Speedlite and standard battery flash when it comes to power output, so some of these lighting options would offer just enough lighting to overpower sunlight but some would still have issues. We have a selection of these pocket flashes available to choose from.Our CITI100 PRO would be our 100Ws pocket flash and would offer nearly twice as much power as most Speedlites available. Unfortunately, this still would not be enough power to overpower sunlight on a bright day and would offer the same issues as a Speedlite. It would however be more than suitable for shooting at lower light conditions such as earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon when the sun is no longer at its brightest.
The PIKA200 PRO would be our 200Ws pocket flash and features a unique design compared to the other options. The benefit of using the PIKA200 PRO is that it allows you to join two units together using a single Dual Bracket to create a combined power out 400Ws. So, whilst using a single PIKA200 PRO may not be suitable for dealing with the brightest sunlight, combining two units would be sufficiently powerful to overpower sun light. When placed in the dual bracket and positioned near to the subject, this would be a suitable lighting option for full-body fashion photography in sunny conditions and may also be a suitable option for large fashion photography depending on the time of day as it may struggle with mid-day sunlight.
Finally, we have our CITI300 PRO which is our 300Ws pocket flash unit. The power output of this is the closest available to a standard battery flash unit, meaning that it would be the most suited for dealing with sunny conditions. Whilst it may be able to overpower sunlight on occasions, during the brightest days, you may still struggle to deal with this, and it is recommended to use a twin lighting set-up for extra power and added flexibility with your lighting placement. The CITI300 PRO would offer the same options as the PIKA200 PRO in a dual bracket, being suitable for full-body fashion photography and larger fashion photography depending on the time of day the photography is being taken.
Standard Battery Flash
For overpowering sunlight and dealing with bright sunny conditions, the most commonly used option is the standard battery flash monolight. This have been designed to deal with a wide range of different shooting environments and offer a selection of features to deal with requirements for each of these. The most common power output would be 600Ws, and PiXAPRO has three of these available with the CITI600 Manual, CITI600 TTL and CITI600 PRO. PiXAPRO also offers a 400Ws battery flash in the form of the CITI400 PRO unit if you wish to use a slightly less powerful flash.
For overpowering sunlight on a bright Summer day, you will need plenty of flash power to achieve this. Using additional features such as High-Speed Sync, which is available on each of the mentioned battery flash monolights, also allows you to better control the ambient sun lighting to capture the best shot. Flexibility with your power range is also vital when it comes to dealing with sunlight, as conditions are always changing, and you need to make sure you are able to adjust to match. The battery flash monolights offer a broader power range (also known as long dynamic range) to give you large light output control. All of the PiXAPRO battery flash monolights offer an adjustable power range from 1/1 (full power) down to 1/256th Power to allow you to adjust the flash to suit any ambient lighting requirements. As well as the adjustable power range, each lighting unit also adjusts in stops, with the PRO lighting units (CITI400 PRO and CITI600 PRO) offering 1/10th Stop adjustments and the standard CITI600 units (CITI600 Manual and CITI600 TTL offering 1/3rd Stop adjustments. What this means for instance, is that if you are adjusting between 1/1 and ½ power, you would adjust in either 1/10ths or 1/3rds between these points, for even further power control. This is vital when it comes to dealing with sunny conditions, as you need your lighting to be at just the right power to overpower the ever-changing brightness of the sun.
Another benefit of using battery powered monolights is that they are more suited for light modification compared to pocket flash or speedlites. All of our monolights come with a Bowens S-Type mount on the front of the flash head, to allow these to be used with a wide range of modifiers. Modifiers such as softboxes, reflectors, snoots etc each offer their own purpose and unique light control, but please note that when using modifiers, you will not receive 100% of the set light output as some will be absorbed into the interiors of the modifiers. But due to the large power output of the monolights, you should still have ample light output to deal with sunny conditions even whilst using a modifier
Super-Powerful Pack and Head Flash System
If you want to make sure you are completely covered for shooting in any environment, including the brightest of Summer days, the only solution is to use our most powerful battery powered flash unit, the CITI1200 PRO. The 1200Ws power output of this unit makes it fully capable of overpowering the sun, even across larger distances and for multiple subjects. The CITI1200 PRO offers studio-level light softness and light effect during sunny conditions whilst using available features such as High-Speed Sync and can be use throughout any period of day no matter how bright the ambient sunlight. Due to the super powerful flash of the CITI1200 PRO, this would be suitable for all types of photography in sunny conditions, including large architect photography (such as cathedrals) and large group production photography over a wide area and full body fashion photography.
Each of these battery powered lighting units offer their own usage capabilities when it comes to performing in sunny conditions, so making sure you choose the correct option is necessary. Here is a breakdown on what each lighting unit is suitable for:
· Speedlites: Can be used either in early morning or late evening when the sun is not at its brightest. Also suitable for use on a cloudy day to help deal with the strong sunlight
· Pocket Flash: These are suitable to be used in directly sunlight, but they must be placed very close to the subject to make sure the flash is powerful enough.
· Standard Battery Flash: The 600Ws monolight is still the most demanded when it comes to using in sunny conditions, due to the wider power range available and the ability to be used with a wide range of different lighting modifiers.
· Super-Powerful Pack and Head Flash System: This lighting unit is perfect in all sunny conditions and is suitable for shooting in larger areas and for larger groups.
When it comes to photography during sunny conditions on a Summer Day, making sure that you select the correct flash unit is vital to deal with the ambient lighting. For this, using 600Ws battery flash monolights are still the most commonly chosen due the power output being bright enough whilst offering a wide range of light control. But depending on nature of the photography, such as the size of the group/subject and the shooting area, there is a range of different options available to choose that would be suitable for location photography in sunny conditions.