There is a saying I like use when teaching lighting classes, ‘let the light breath.’ This refers to figuring out what is the best lighting ratio between outside ambient light and your strobe on the subject. There is no right answer. When shooting assignments the client often tells you what style of lighting and mood they are looking for, other times they give you full creative control. Ratios can go from a fill flash ration where the flash is almost the same exposure as the daylight, or to very dramatic with the ambient light being underexposed 2 stops or more.
I like to darken my ambient exposure from minus 1/2 to 2 stops on many shots, especially if there are clouds. Darkening my ambient allows my flash ‘to breath’. With a dark background I can really see my lighting and the fine details of accent lights and subtle fill. With a fill flash ratio of lighting the strobe is less apparent or not even obvious….and that might be your goal for the shot. There is no right answer.
Yesterday I was working with Greg, a local athlete in town, a runner, jumper, fighter…a very talented guy. We worked on some running shots on the university track, and I liked the mood and intensity of this image. And the background was underexposed 1 1/2 stops to achieve this effect.
Tech: Nikon D3, 45mm tilt shift, 1/200 at f27. ISO 100. One Elinchrom Ranger was used with a Freelite A head shot through a 39″ Rotalux deep Octabox . Triggered by the Skyport wireless system.