Comparing Natural Light and Strobes, Can You Tell the Difference?

An ongoing debate among photographers from all backgrounds is that of natural vs artificial light. Both options have their pitfalls and qualities worth praising, but even so, it seems like some photographers are hesitant to put a subject in front of a strobe if natural light is available.

But as shown in this video put together by Felix Kunze and Sue Bryce for CreativeLive, when used correctly, strobes can almost perfectly replicate the look of natural light. Kunze and Bryce compare identical model setups side-by-side using both natural and strobe lighting as an exercise in showing off the differences and similarities between the two.

One of these is shot with natural light, the other with a strobe. Can you tell which is which? (Answer at the bottom)

One of these is shot with natural light, the other with a strobe. Can you tell which is which? (Answer at the bottom)

As they venture further into the video, they not only compare natural light to strobes, but also speedlights. Bryce notes that, while you won’t get the same quality of light with a speedlight as a strobe, it’s still a good first step. Plus, if you can create good light with a speedlight, creating great light with a strobe and even natural light will come easier.

Coming in at just over six minutes, it’s a quick watch with plenty of helpful tips and insight for beginner strobist. Press play and be ready to take notes.

(via Picture Correct)

Answer: Natural light left, strobe light right.

  • Dj

    What’s a guest you ask? Someone that isn’t allowed to stay. Bye!

  • Aleta Boddy

    Jealous much?? :D

  • Iceage

    Many people who refuse to use controlled artificial light, can’t, or can’t afford it and that’s just the fact of the matter. They still show up to speak with authority on the subject regardless. A strobe lighted image can appear to be natural light any time you want it to, period. You just have to know how to do it. The reverse is iffy, but possible, but conditions have to be aligned for that to happen. Pro’s can’t take that chance, and Amateurs who want results know better.

    Also, people don’t scrim or even effectively bounce natural light, they don’t bounce it like a pro or diffuse it well most of the time. I’ve seen natural done with scrim and bounce that looks fantastic, but again, the average use of natural is just direct light, or green saturated day light. If people used natural correctly there’d be less to say about it. But your workday is already over if the day is rainy or heavy cloud cover, then what?

    Also, if you pixel pop a “natural” light image you will see a big difference in clarity. Sharpness and reliable workability in the digital dark room program of your choice goes far better with controlled strobed light, way way better actually. If you shop heavy, or feather light, or even just light and color control and the rest WYSIWYG, a strobed image is far superior even if you want the image to look what some may whine-ily call “natural” in appearance, a term that has many shifting definitions too.