A problem that many photographers run into is learning to expose and balance the lighting outdoors for an epic and incredible portrait shot. What makes it difficult is the sun or lack of it, as well as having a background for your portrait subject. You might notice if you take a portrait image outdoors with a smartphone, the sky will be overexposed (blown out in a white, bright light) – whereas the subject is properly exposed. If you select the sky as your subject, your camera will adjust to expose for it, but the model or should-be subject is underexposed (dark and hidden).

However, adding a second light source to your scene balances out the lighting. This could be a reflector to bounce natural light or a strong, artificial light. As you can see below, the result is an epic outdoor portrait:


Below are the two original images where either the sky or the subject is exposed or underexposed.



To obtain the balance of lighting, first, without your second source of light, expose for the sky or background so the colors and textures show. Your subject will be underexposed. Keep those same settings, but this time, add your second light source, whether it’s flash lighting or a reflector (I used a Godox AD200). This is how you balance the light AND get an epic outdoor portrait image!

Check out these epic outdoor portraits!:

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