Location Soft Lighting

Karl and the team are in Paris for this shoot as they use some soft studio flash in the daytime to fill in the shadows and balance out the exposure of the image when a reflector just wouldn’t be enough. Using just a scrim and two studio lights, you too can create stunning images like this.


  1. Hi Karl,

    Fantastic work as always here!

    I’m just curious on the use of a ND filter at shutter speed 1/60th. As a humble amateur, to get the same effect, I would have upped the shutter speed to say 1/200 or 1/250 (to stay under HSS ad thus true strobe power), and perhaps lowered the ISO to 80 or 50 – all in the name of lowering the ambient light to the same level you have here.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,


    1. Hi Steve, it wasn’t 1/60th it was 1/160th which was the fastest sync speed I could attain out of this model camera. Sorry I may have mispronounced it in the commentary! By the way I believe this camera model was capable of 1/200th but in never actually achieved it without a slight black line at the bottom of the frame where clearly it was syncing properly at that speed with flash. High speed sync capable flashes unfortunately weren’t available when we made this class as it was some years ago.

    2. Hi Karl , in the second final shot you have used 1/60 second. Its quite shaky shutter speed. Can you explain please why this choice? would 1/125 or higher surfice?

      1. Hi Mariuz, at first i thought this might have been a mistake and it should have said 1/160th which would be a common flash sync speed that I use but I will have to check the video and watch it again (this is from some years ago). It may be that because I needed the ND and polarizing filters at the same time to control the amount of daylight exposure for F1.8 that that is just where it ended up. Generally speaking you are correct 1/60th would be a little slow for my liking, not impossible but yes if I had a choice then faster would have been better but it is likely that if I removed the ND filter it would have put me above the useable flash sync speed. I’m going to rewatch the video though as it was from some years ago so it may have been 1/160th but I’ll need to check. UPDATE: OK I’ve just checked the course and the image files and it was 1/160th of a second so we will update the images at the end, apologies for the typo!

  2. Hi Karl Taylor
    KTE est l’un des meilleurs trΓ¨s bons investissements que j’ai rΓ©alisΓ© Γ  ce jour en 2020. Sans flagornerie .Merci Karl

  3. Hi Karl, just signed up today. Very informative tutorials/videos.
    I work for a fashion company here in Glasgow…always good to see something refreshing.
    Just wondering…on location shoots like the one above, apart from having insurance is there any other precaution you need to take when using studio/portable lighting on the street/public space? A special licence/permission?

    Thanks in advance


    1. Hi thanks, no generally not but as a photographer I have to have public liability insurance and for shoots at locations such as this you should have permission from the local council. Admittedly we didn’t for this one and we got told to move along, one of the later shoots with this model at the Paris Biblioteche we did get permits. Beyond for shoots on public land and the coast I’ve never needed permission in Europe but in the USA they threw us off a beach once for shooting without a permit, I didn’t realise they were so strict there, especially as the beach was empty! From a safety point of view I’d advise your flash tubes have a protective dome or a modifier on them so at least if one did blow there would be some level of protection.

  4. Hi, Carl!
    Thank you so much for your photo, lessons and explains, its really excited and helpfull!
    What is your camera display brightness adjustment , when you shoot outdoor and indoor?
    Thank You!

    1. Hi, thank you. I have mine set 2/3rds of the way up when shooting outdoors in bright light and I set it slightly below the middle if shooting at night, but I also look at the Histogram as a guide.

  5. Hi Karl,
    I’m using the same setup as you for the most part – 85 or 50 mm 1.2 Canon lenses on a 1DX or 5DM3 body. Briefly….at 4:23 in the vid, you look to be about 5 meters from the model. So, my question is this: when you are shooting wide open at 2.0 or 1.8 for example, the small screen LCD on the camera to check DOF is not really a great gauge — how do you know what distance is right to keep her in focus. She could pose slightly at an angle, and then you lose her arm or leg or whatever, if you are too close and wide open on the lens. So, are you at 5 meters from the subject to frame the shot? Or are you there because any closer to the subject would start losing the DOF? Thanks in advance for any insight. Keep up the good work, un saluto dall’Italia. Matt

    1. Hi Matt, I’ll be completely honest with you: I don’t give it anywhere near that level of thought. I frame my shot, focus, shoot a few and then check. If i’m moving or model is moving too much I’ll try and be more careful or switch to a tripod. Not every shot is pin sharp so I shoot plenty. If I notice there is a real problem then I’d stop down a stop but if not I just carry on shooting. I’d say i’m more fluid with any given situation, I shoot what I want or hope to shoot and then adjust as necessary.

  6. Hi Karl- one of the things I love about your photography is the colors. Deep, saturated colors. I am having trouble achieving this especially outside. My colors are more flat in general. I am thinking about adding polarizing filters and ND filters to my kit. I do mostly lifestyle portrait photography. Do I need to watch out for anything specific in buying the filters? Some people say never to use a polarizer filter on people because it makes their skin look strange. Can you speak to that? You excel using them so any advice is appreciated. Thank you! Rocky

    1. Hi Rocky, I often use a polariser to saturate outdoors and yes it can give a ‘weird’ look on skin, but not always a bad thing. The use of Grad filters also helps tremendously on bringing colour back to the sky. I also generally shoot slightly underexposed which gives better saturation than shooting to light.

  7. Hello, love what you do Karl, I wish that you would explain the steps you use to achieve or determine the exposure for a shot such as this.

    1. Hello Gerry, it’s actually pretty straightforward. First, you choose your aperture based on how you want your background (BG) to look. For example, Karl decided to throw the BG out of focus, opting for a shallow depth of field shooting wide open @ f/1.8. Second, you should choose a shutter speed that’s fast enough to photograph handheld, without introducing any camera shake. After these are set, ISO falls into place. Make sure that your BG is exposed according to the mood you’re going for, and then compensate with flash to illuminate the subject to your liking πŸ˜‰

Leave a Comment