This video should make it easier for you to see the differences in similar images lit with these three different methods.
Some photographers only shoot in available light and they are often called natural light photographers. Some photographers use a lot of speed lights or ‘flashes’ to illuminate their images. Many photographers use a mixture of the two. But what changes about an image when you choose to light one way vs another?
It can be hard to know which way to light your images if you have not seen easy-to-follow demonstrations before, side by side in the same scene with similar settings. Derrel Ho-Shing Photography over on YouTube released this great side-by-side demonstration showing the differences between natural and available light, strobes and flashes, and strobes and flashes with high-speed sync (HSS). It is a quick and easy way to see for yourself some of the advantages and disadvantages of these three methods of lighting.
In his first example, we see Ho-Shing’s model leaning up against a wall holding a coffee. The first natural- light shot looks pretty standard from a lighting standpoint, but when he moves onto his first flash/strobe shot we run into his first issue. He can’t shoot wide open on his Sigma 85mm F/1.4 art lens because his sync speed is too low on the camera, which results in an overexposed and washed out image. To compensate, Ho-Shing has to drop his aperture value down to F/5.6, giving him a correct exposure but the downside is that his background is not as out of focus.
Then, with the high-speed sync technology Ho-Shing is able to sync his camera and strobe at a higher shutter speed, allowing him to be able to shoot his 85mm lens wide open at F/1.4.
All of the shots look good from a lighting perspective and whichever you prefer may help you decide how you want to light your own images going forward.