It's that time of year when families are rushing to get family photos done in time for (I'll go ahead and say it) Christmas. If you are lucky you can still find fall colors and the early evening light will give add a warm glow. With this beautiful setting light comes some challenges though. For some your first thought might be to have your subject(s) facing the sun to get that warm light on their faces, but then they end up squinting and the overall image may look flat. Conversely, if you have the sun at your subjects back you will get a beautiful warm rim lighting effect that will separate your subject from the background adding depth to your image. With this method comes the challenge of balancing the lighting of your subjects face and the background. The best case scenario would be if something such as a wall was behind you to reflect that beautiful warm sun light back in to your subjects face, but honestly how often does that happen. The next option would be to have a reflector on a holder or have an assistant hold it to redirect the light back on your subjects face. This option is a versatile and relatively inexpensive choice and the reflector commonly referred to as a "5 in 1" is a great tool with many uses, but that's a blog post all on its own. Your third option flash, yes that dreaded "F" word that some photographers run from at the mere mention. I just love it when a photographer states that they are a "natural light" shooter. Shooting with flash and natural light really is not that difficult when you break the process down.
The first step would be to find what your ambient exposure is, what would your settings be if you wanted to expose for your background only. Next step that dreaded flash. I prefer to shot in manual mode, both on my camera as well as on my flash, because I feel this gives me the most control. Adjust your flash power, as with everything your scenario will dictate what your settings will be, and dial it in with your aperture setting.
As with all things photography related practice practice practice. You do not want to be fumbling with this with a paying customer. Ask a friend or a relative, I know of some photographers that have mannequin heads to practice with. Just remember to set your ambient exposure first utilizing your shutter speed and ISO (keep in mind your flash sync speed for most cameras this will be either 200 or 250 check with your cameras manual) then set your flash exposure by varying the power and using your cameras aperture. Oh and did I mention that you need to practice, just making sure. Don't get frustrated, in the end you will have another weapon in your photographic arsenal and you will no longer be afraid of the "F" word and if you want you could become an "MFr". Get your mind out of the gutter that stands for a Multiple Flash user. As always make sure that you Shoot What You Love, Love What You Shoot.