Simple Fashion on Location

In this class, Karl introduces some artificial light into his shot as he intentionally underexposes the background and uses a fill-in flash to create a more dramatic image. The key to this shot is using the surroundings for composition to make the model really stand out.



  1. Hello Karl,

    Amazing course. Loving the on-location photography. I am using Sony A7III .. please suggest some value for money “Polarising – ND filters” I am into wedding and on-location photography.

    1. Hi Ahmed, the equipment used on each shoot is listed on the lower right of each page video in the ‘equipment list’. Cheers Karl.

  2. Karl, totally loved this video and the stunning resulting image. I’d like to ask a few questions about this shoot. First, what ND filter (i.e. .9 for example) did you use to reduce the ambient daylight? Also, how many stops did you underexpose the daylight to give it that darker look.

    1. Hi Nigel, yes I started using this technique as a solution for 35mm cameras with sync speeds only up to 1/200th or 1250th. On medium format cameras I can sync at any speed up to 1/2000th so I don’t need to worry about ND’s and I can just get on with it. Some of the newer mirrorless cameras have slightly faster flash sync up to 1/350th and I think this will probably get faster as they evolve. Medium format cameras can sync faster because the shutter is actually in the lens (kid of like and aperture) called a leaf shutter. In this video I would have most likely been using a 3 stop ND (0.9) the best ND filters I’ve ever used are the LEE IRND as they are perfectly neutral but they cost a bit. I normally aim for about 1 stop underexposed on the daylight scene. Shoot that first whilst keeping the shutter speed within your maximum and then add the flash so you know where you are.

      1. Thanks Karl. I’ll look into the LEE IRND filters and the holder system they do. I have EOS 5D MK4 so stuck with 1/200th sec, actually, less with studio and battery location strobes when triggers, 1/160th in this instance.

        Re Hassleblad sync, yes, I’m aware of this as I used to own a 500cm back in the day 😉 You often mention ‘medium format’ cameras being able to sync at any speed, but the leaf shutter is a ‘Blad’ thing. I think, back in the day, Mamiya RZ might have been leaf shutter too, but Bronica SQ and ETRS where focal plane, even though medium format. But, I’m out of touch with all the digital medium format cameras by Bronica, Mamiya so not sure if they are leaf now.

        As an aside, I love the Fuji GSX 50s, but the flash sync on that is even less, 1/160th I think, could be even lower, and that’s a mirrorless medium format camera, as you know. Sync speed on the GSX is the only thing preventing me from getting it and don’t want to go for the Blad as the lenses area three times the price of Fuji’s glass, but I do love Zeiss glass, tack sharp.

    1. Hi Mano, for me always on the model (face/eyes) but this was a wide angle lens so there is an inherent amount of DOF due to the lens being a wide angle, especially if your subject is several feet away.

  3. Hi Karl,

    Was the double umbrella setup for full body coverage or just to allow firing the strobes at lower power?

  4. Hi Karl,

    I’m wondering why you shot at f3.5 and used an ND filter? Could you not have just shot at F11 or similar to achieve the same result? Cheers Peter

  5. karl,
    Got it! Thank you for that information. Hope to do a bit of shooting like this over the weekend and so far your information has already yielded positive results. thank you again! Robert

  6. The shadow was done in post work correct?
    If so, is there a reason the shadow heads towards the light?
    Shouldn’t it be heading away from the model towards the center to be realistic?
    Love the shot btw, just curious.

    1. Hi Robert, if you look at the natural shadows in the scene such as the shadow side of the building or the steps you will see they run towards the camera. As you would have seen in the video the shot was taken using a strong backlit sun so this is the natural direction of the shadows. The studio lighting is the other way but concentrated to fill in the shadow side of the model but it’s position and strength is not enough to overpower the sunlight from the other direction and therefore it doesn’t cast a shadow. For me the most natural shadow is to fit with the rest of the scene and in this case that is from the sun. There wasn’t any post work on the shadow that is the shadow from the sun. Cheers Karl.

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