Lighting Control (The Egg Challenge)

We set Karl a challenge – to shoot an inanimate subject (namely an egg) in a single location with minimal different surfaces and backgrounds, and zero props. How did he do?

In this live show, drawing on his knowledge of light and lighting control, Karl covers a number of techniques for controlling the mood and feel of an image, including:

  • Light position
  • Light direction
  • Light hardness and softness
  • Light colour
  • Choice of modifier
  • Invoking emotion
  • Composition
  • Sculpting the subject

Karl demonstrates how, by thinking outside the box and using light creatively, it’s possible to achieve great results – even when photographing simple subjects. Combining theory and practice, he reveals how the essentials of studio lighting can be applied for exciting results.

Using standard, affordable modifiers, as well as a few pro light shapers, Karl demonstrates important theoretical concepts relating to light and colour that can be used to better control studio lighting. These include how the size of the light impacts the hardness or softness of the light; how to mix hard and soft light and how to create completely shadowless light; and how to easily create an affordable DIY alternative for projection attachments.

He then creates two different still-life setups. The first demonstrates the importance of colour, while the second highlights how you can use narrative, emotion and anticipation to create alluring still-life imagery.

In this class:

  • Creative ideas for still life photography
  • Lighting theory and how to control studio lighting
  • Colour theory and triadic colour schemes
  • Creative one-light setups
  • How to mix hard and soft light
  • How to create shadowless light
  • How to use narrative, emotion and anticipation for creative conceptual imagery

If you have any questions about this class, please post in the comments section below.


  1. Hi Karl,
    When you went to buy paint, you knew which colors to buy. To choose colors that are compatible with the color of the egg, firstly do you take the photo of the egg to get the values of the base (egg) color and you enter them in the fields to determine the compatible colors via using color calculator. Then you buy paint right ? How is the workflow progressing ? thank you

    1. Hi, yes taking a daylight balalanced natural or studio lighting shot of the egg to establish the RGB colours first could be a good way of working or alternatively you guess the colour of the egg from the colour spectrum model adjustments.

  2. Nigel

    What are the clamps called for holding the board to the C-stand? Sounds like you say ‘Cocal Camps’ but Google brings no results up so I’m sure the spelling is wrong 😉

  3. Hi,

    At around 9:30 in the video you mention a technique used by Urs Recher using mirrors.
    Is there a video of this on VE/KTE?

    1. Hi, no there is no video for this but what I described is basically all it is. You are trying to make the light source look further away to be smaller to create harder shadows, therefore something like a large traffic convex mirror could be used as this would decrease the size of the light source if the light was shining into it.

  4. Hi Karl, so I tested global illumination in my home and have a couple questions. I noticed if I used a P70 reflector which created more of a “hot central spot” on my ceiling & walls, it gave my subject a shadow, even though they did not see the lamp from their perspective. I only have a flat fronted light. The flat front by itself did a decent job with a subtle shadow on subject, but I believe you mentioned a protruding bulb is the best way to do this regardless of studio size? Is it because the light is going in 270 degrees or more? My second question is regarding a moving subject. If they are moving a few meters or more, they may end up “seeing the bulb” at some point during the shot. Any way to combat this with a moving subject? As long as the key light is brighter intensity it should overpower the global fill shadow anyways? Thanks for your teaching! Cheers. -Ty

    1. …and if you only have ONE light for global illumination, would it be best to have it come from camera perspective so there isn’t shadow? compared to one global light coming from left or right side of subject?

      1. Hi Ty, yes if the goal is to make it look non directional, then above camera could be a good position but this often depends on your studio/room, for example if could be pointing backwards towards the ceiling and walls behind the camera.

    2. Hi Ty, yes a bare bulb creates a softer more all around global illumination which is the point actually. A P70 controls the bounce to just the ceiling and not the walls but you can widen it’s spread a little by resting a sheet of diff on it. To avoid the other problem you mention you place a small black flag/card in the position to block the light where you expect it to directly strike the model.

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