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Natural Light Photography

Lesson 7 of 7

How Sue Bryce Uses Strobes and Kinos

Sue Bryce

Natural Light Photography

Sue Bryce

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Lesson Info

7. How Sue Bryce Uses Strobes and Kinos
While Sue built a successful portrait photography business using natural light alone, there are some advantages to having artificial light on hand. Yet, Sue stays true to her style and uses those lights to mimic natural light. Learn how Sue uses a strobe with a large diffuser and a Kino Flow light behind the scrim to imitate natural light.

Lesson Info

How Sue Bryce Uses Strobes and Kinos

So really, I just want to finish my figment with, obviously what Felix told me. Now again, Felix got me a... He made me buy this. And when I saw the size of it, in my small studio, do you have any concept of how many times I've hit my head on this thing? It is a 59 inch deep dish alum chrome modifier. And it's on a 250 alum chrome light strobe. I bought pocket wizards and I can't make them work. Now, I am absolutely, no shame in saying to you, this is me. It's not talking to it. It's not working. I've done everything. I've set the channels, I've done everything. Felix, Felix, I've done everything. He's like, just put it in like I showed - It's not working, it's not working! So I throw them on the floor, I get the plug out of the alum chrome, I stick it in the back of the camera, it works every time. And I'm like, ahhh. I hate them. I can't get them to work. But I am not your lighting expert. Okay, that is not where my strength lies. And I can not get them to talk to my, for some reason...

they hate each other. And I can't be Switzerland. I can't. Anyway, I plug it into the back of my camera and I bounce it off polyboards, and I bounce the light off foamcore. As you can see in this image, I am bouncing it down and back up. I never turned the strobe towards my client. It's always feathered in, usually at a 45 degree angle, nice and high and I use it the same way I use sunlight. And it gives me a different look than how most people get from strobes. It's a look that Felix taught me that I love. Now, the image at the top is shot at 2.8. You can't shoot at 2.8 on the 250 alum chrome strobe even at it's lowest setting because it's too bright. And when it's too bright, you need to shut down your lens and your ISO. Now when your ISO is at 100 and you can't go any lower, you then have to take your f-stop up. So I'm shooting at eight or 11 and then everything's in focus and I'm in danger of looking like every other flash photographer that I've ever seen, yuck. And so I hate it. So, I pick up my indie filter, my neutral density filter which I use for film, I rotate it eight stops to dark, I open up my lens to 2.8, and I shoot the strobe, and it looks exactly like my natural light. Now the bottom image is no indie filter shot at f-10. So everything's in focus, everything is sharp, everything looks commercial. I don't shoot commercial. I shoot portrait. And I certainly don't want that for my portrait clients. So when I use the strobe is when I'm being a little bit more fashion, a little bit maybe more commercial looking in my imagery, but mostly, I'm being quite arty with it. I'm turning my neutral density filter up eight stops to dark and I'm shooting at wide open with the strobe and people are like, how are you getting this soft look? And that's how I'm doing it. It's my way of doing it. And it's what I like as a finished product. Now, the next one, and that's my indie filter, the next one is the Kino flow. Now, quite obviously, this light, the Kino Tegra is a four bank natural daylight balanced, four bank bulbs, and I've got it going towards the scrim. Now as you can see in this image, the reason I've got it going towards the scrim is because the light spreads out and then my light source is this big. And it is one of the sexiest things I have ever had in my studio that is not god light. So, it is the closest replicator I have ever seen to natural light. I could shoot in the dark with these lights. They are around 14 to $1,600. But you would never, ever be hindered again unless you loss power and didn't have a battery pack or unless all of your bulbs blew simultaneously. You will never have a problem of not being able to shoot in your natural habitat. It is an investment and when you think about a $1, four bank Tegra with a $400 laser light, you're at $2,000. A $2,000 investment will set up your studio for a very long time. They have a warranty of five years. And it really is the most beautiful thing I have ever worked with. Look at the image on the right. It very much replicates my natural light. It is quite extraordinary and it really please me that I finally have something. Now I stumbled across the Kino because basically, Felix said to me that I should get a natural constant light for when I shoot videos for education. And then he was showing me how to use it and I noticed that anybody that got near the light when the scrim was over the front just looked like window light. Of course it's natural daylight balanced light source, that's what it is. But when it's on the scrim and the light source is large and it's soft, it's so beautiful I could shoot at nighttime. So the images that you're seeing here are one of my favorite shoots from this last year. This was my very first portrait shoot for a client on strobe. I had never in my career, in 25 years, shot and sold a photoshoot in artificial light. I am very proud of this shoot. She is a beautiful woman, she loved her images, I loved shooting it, I felt strong, I felt like I knew what I had learned. It was a great and new skill for me. So I was a little bit fish out of water but we had the best shoot and she had 25 remarkable images and I absolutely loved them. But, I could have replicated all of that in natural light. So I was like, there is no right or wrong. There is no superior. The only time you would be superior to me is in a room with no light. And I don't shoot in a room with no light. So I didn't need to learn it. So do I feel like I need to defend myself? No, but yes. And that's okay. Criticize away. It works for me. And natural light to me is still the single most beautiful light source that I've ever seen. And I don't ever want to change that. I'm gonna come up here and join you. Sue, it's always amazing to have you here on Creative Live and people as always really love the punches that you gave about... not having to go to school or the education of the hardknocks and everything that you have taught us here about what is right or not right. So thank you as always. Sue, where can people find more out about you? I'm easy to find. Sue Bryce on Facebook. Sue Bryce on Instagram. Sue Bryce on Twitter. It's like, you know. Yep. (laughs) So everyone, check out Sue's new subscription site there on Thank you again.

Class Description


  • Manipulate available light to create a flattering light source
  • Eliminate harsh shadows using simple accessories
  • Create multiple types of light from a single window
  • Capture beautiful outdoor portraits whether it's a sunny day or cloudy day
  • Work with direct light, directional light, and backlight
  • Professionally light portraits using free natural light and inexpensive modifiers
  • Create your own inexpensive lighting tools


Sometimes, the best light in photography is free. In this 90-minute class, learn how to manipulate ambient lighting into studio-like lighting conditions. From window light to working outdoors, learn to harness available light to create a variety of styles, from soft, flattering portraits to dramatic directional light. Go behind-the-scenes of a live natural light shoot with artist Sue Bryce to bounce light, bend light, soften light, and create drama with intense light.

While natural light is beautiful, it's also affordable. Work with inexpensive accessories like $35 V-flats and a $15 homemade scrim to turn a single window into several lighting patterns using different techniques. Discover how to use modifiers to turn bad light into the kind of light that flatters anyone. Then in the final lesson, learn how to replicate natural light with studio lighting gear for beautiful light at any time.


  • Beginning photographers eager to learn simple lighting
  • Intermediate photographers ready to expand lighting skills
  • Photographers struggling to manipulate natural light


Portrait artist Sue Bryce built a career on using natural light. Her lighting style helps create contemporary, fashion-inspired portraiture without expensive studio gear. Awarded the Portrait Photographer of the Year -- twice -- Sue is a master portrait photographer specializing in a style of portraiture that helps women recognize their own beauty.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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AnnaGeo Jump

Such an amazing way to use natural light and get great results. Sue you have an artistic and practical way to see everything around you, and this course opens our minds to endless possibilities around us that can help us to achieve the most beautiful results with natural light and simple materials. Thank you as always!

Noel Guevara

Fantastic course! I got this for $29 and it's the most bang-for-the-buck purchase I've made here in creative live. Sue is undoubtedly an expert, and I love her no-fuss, direct method of teaching. Her lighting hacks are also great tips. At first I was apprehensive because of reviews of her course with Felix Kunze, where she was described as overpowering and defensive, but after seeing this I now understand her background, and learned that she actually has great respect for Felix. Buy it. You'll learn a lot about natural light in one go.

Kelly Cas

definitely good for a beginner who doesn't yet have the time or money to invest in expensive equipment. i love her sharp personality and she is clearly passionate about what she does, infusing the whole atmosphere with fun