Combining Natural Backlighting With Flash on Location

In this photography class, Karl shoots a striking fashion image against the backdrop of one of Cornwall’s historic tin mines using studio lighting.

Working on location requires a portable and versatile lighting setup. For this, Karl uses two battery-powered studio lights with different modifiers to get the final shot. In this class, you’ll learn about the recommended equipment for photographing outdoors and how to combine natural and studio lighting while working on location and how to create a natural-looking combination of lighting.

As Karl explains his lighting setup, you see how he carefully balanced his lighting with the daylight, and how he created a beautiful rim light down the side of the model’s body using a very simple lighting setup.

In this class:

  • Lighting setups for photographing on location
  • Lighting setups for fashion photography
  • How to balance natural and studio lighting
  • Studio lights for location work


  1. How do you deal with the moving sun in a scenario like this? When the sun moves, the shadows will move too, and for long shadows like the one of the tower, this should be quite noticeable. So, the shadows won’t be in the same position when you photograph the background plate used to photoshop the lights out as they were during some of the earlier shots

    1. Hi Yves, the way I usually work is to spend some time setting up and testing and then the actual shooting part on one shot lasts about 10mins so there wouldn’t be a great deal of movement in that time. If you were concerned there would be movement of shadows then you could occasionally pull your lights out and shoot a plate and then put them back in and carry on and repeat.

  2. Another great pic. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine I’ll ever be in a position to take something similar.

  3. Simply Splendid, two questions: who’s the Model? and I’ve seen that led lights can be quite cheap but I suspect that strobes deliver better quality. I’m thinking Broncolor here Vs Rotalite. Your thoughts?

    1. Hi Enrico, the models name is Steph and she is a friend of one of the crew. I’m not a big fan of LED lights I prefer strobes for cleaner more powerful light without blinding the model while shooting.

    1. Hi Latesh, the phrase ‘how would you ensure’ seems to indicate that I need to ensure? Which in fact we don’t need to ensure. Any decision about the background structure being dark or lit is purely dependent on the subject, narrative and personal choice as to what is going to make the most effective picture. Try not to hold too many ‘rules’ about how things should look, the only things that matters is will my picture make people want to look at it.

      1. Hi Karl,
        Has the WB been changed in this shot ?
        sky is very blue
        I have tried similar settings in very harsh sun but still don’t get a blue sky..
        Please advise..

        1. Hi Latesh, no I haven’t changed the colour balance. It would have been shot at 5600K because that is the colour balance of the flash, otherwise the models skin tones would look wrong . It may have had some ‘saturation’ added in Lightroom though.

    2. Hi Latesh,

      I am not Karl but maybe I can help with my two cents, regarding settings those are just for you to have a clue on how it was achieved but sometimes the may vary a lot… the other day at noon I need ISO100 F8 1/4000th to get a rich deep blue sky like that… so just try to achieve the colour in the sky before you add the flash and the model… just work with the backgroud… after you got a perfect sky use the flash power to equalize the model exposure to the one in the background… regarding the dark structure… you need another flash pointing there to match its exposure to the rest off the picture… so at least two off camera flashes (one for the model and other for the structure) to ensure the lightened structure look.

      Hope it helps

    1. Hi Victoria, thank you. The exposure settings are shown on the final images in the video. I believe they are near the end of this video.

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