Making Use of Outdoor Light in Wedding Photography

Outdoor weddings are beautiful but challenging to cover to say the least. For one, weddings held outdoors are naturally beautiful occasions that makes an occasion as memorable as a wedding itself become more memorable. On the flipside however, the unpredictability and the harshness of light coming from the sun can be a challenge as it may cause underexposed or overexposed photos or photos be ruined by the bright sunlight that distracts the view captured in the image.

While we cannot control the light coming from the sun, as wedding photographers like Martin Pemberton Photography, we can play around with the sunlight to make some stunning outdoor photos with the help of some equipment to help diffuse the harsh sunlight. We shall detail a few of them here.

On-Camera Flash To Enhance Available Light

Used properly, an on-camera flash used outdoors can be of help for outdoor wedding photography, creating either a theatrical or straightforward effect, depending on the occasion and mindset of the subject(s). It can be used to soften shadows, illuminate backlit subjects or darken the distracting background of a packed reception hall. There are also the shoe-mounted flashguns (aka Speedlites or Speedlights) that become an integral part of your camera once they’re locked in place. Then there are the dedicated, through-the-lens (TTL) flashguns, in which the flash output is determined by the degree of light required to complement pre-existing ambient light levels. You can also adjust the exposures to serve your purposes, whether you’re filling in shadows or darkening a background by increasing your shutter speed.


One great feature dedicated TTL flashguns have are the flash reflectors that zoom in or out to match the picture angle of the lens you are using, usually in the range of 28mm to 105mm or longer depending on the model in question. Most have a flip-down diffuser that spreads the light wide enough to cover the field of view of a 21mm lens, giving you good edge-to-edge illumination.

TTL Flash Light Modifiers To Soften the Hard-Edged Look

If you find that the harsh nature of electronic speedlights ruins the highlights of what would otherwise be lovely photos, these effects can be greatly controlled through the use of a number of readily available light-modifying attachments. To diffuse and soften the light of a flash gun and create more flattering and atmospheric portraits. These include snap-on diffusers, miniature beauty dishes, and soft boxes. Mini softboxes are particularly useful when shooting with speedlights, as they greatly soften and spread the range of light that these smaller strobes produce.

Battery-Powered Studio Flash Systems for Small Groups

Even though you may think you have it covered with a couple of speedlights, in some cases, these speedlights may not be enough. Depending on the lighting conditions, you may need to augment the light that is available (or otherwise) with light from an artificial source to light a small group. This might require more light, with more of a spread than you can get from your speedlight, whether it’s off camera or on. More powerful and more flexible than shoe-mounted speedlights are thosebattery-powered flash systems which are ideal for shooting group portraits. For shooting larger groups or situations requiring larger volumes of light, portable battery-powered flash systems featuring 1000- to 2000-plus watt/seconds of light are available.


Reflectors and Diffusers

The challenge of shooting outdoors using available light is learning how to control it. It’s rare to shoot under outdoor lighting conditions that will not let us have to correct the fill, softening or diffusion, something that cannot be corrected by additional light alone. Depending on the situation, one has to use a number of scrims, reflectors and diffusing devices designed to optimize the lighting parameters of whatever ambient lighting conditions you might encounter