Laws of Light: How to Balance Strobes with Ambient Light

On this video, part of a series “laws of light” by photographer Jay P. Morgan from the Slanted Lens we look at how to balance light from a strobe with ambient light.

On this retro look shoot Morgan takes us through several scenarios including daytime and nighttime (yes, we typically don’t think about nighttime as having ambient light but it can – especially with practicals).

Here are two steps that Morgan suggests you take in order to get the perfect strobe/ambient mix:

  1. Decide what is going to be the aperture that you would like to shoot with (with open, close down or somewhere in the middle). This should, of course, be in tune with the vibe that you want for the image.
  2. Next, you need to match the power settings of the strobe to that of your aperture. The simple equation that Morgan is promoting here is simple – match the strobe power to the aperture and the shutter speed to the ambient light and play with both to get the result you want.

Next Morgan gives several examples both in the daytime and in the night using some car lights and a number of different strobes which add a little bit of light to an otherwise dark image.

This isn’t the first time Morgan has been covering the topic of balancing strobes and ambient light. A few years back we covered his video on combining strobes with ambient light at sunset which is also worth watching

You can find a lot more lighting tutorials on our photography lighting section here on LensVid, and you can find all of Jay P. Morgan’s videos here on LensVid on the following link.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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