Soft Moss Fantasy

How do you achieve high-quality lighting while battling the elements? Join Karl and the team on location in Iceland for a masterclass in problem-solving and determination. 

This shoot was the last of the Fashionscape project, and Karl was determined to get a good result despite the difficult conditions.

With minimal kit and minimal time to waste, he captures a series of striking images, making the most of the unusual landscape and the intrepidness of model Santa Auzina.

You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, and you’ll be glad it wasn’t you lying down on that moss!

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

© Karl Taylor


  1. Great stuff from karl as always
    but i would also like to give huge credit to the model for doing a great job in this cold weather.

  2. Thank you for these extraordinary videos, Karl! After just a few months in KTE, I do not use a light meter and have more creative freedom. These Iceland videos show that passion is most important. Seeing you and your crew running from spot to spot, fixing things, giving all that energy for the sake of photographic art is what inspire us. Thumbs up to you as a leader and your great team – thank you all!

    1. Thank you very much for your kind comments and feedback, the team and I very much appreciate it. 🙂

  3. Fantastic. Thanks Karl. I will watch this shortly. Oh, I also wanted to say thanks for doing the video on the manfrotto colorama whinch backdrop items. I use them in my small studio and they are so perfect.

  4. Karl, I have just signed up to the monthly subscription and will be going through the videos over many days and long nights excitedly. I have a Para 88 and dont use it much, mainly as my studio set up is small, do you have a general ‘go to’ distance from subject and boom arm setting, do you also shoot with diffusers and grids on the para much? I tend to stick with my Profoto softlite reflectors in silver and white along with grids as I love this style of lighting but I want to experiment with it.

    1. Hi Jason, I’ve never used the Para’s with grids only occasionally with the slight softening diffuser. The Para 88 can be used from a considerable distance as you will see in some of the other chapters in Iceland. If you use it like a beauty dish set up then put it exactly as I do in the Beauty Dish Live show which you can catch in the live show replays.

  5. Thanks for sharing this Karl, lovely images indeed, have one question, how did you mesure the lights, did you do on TTL or manually?thanks

    1. Hi Samuel, I only and always measure the light with my eyes! And by that I mean I simply look at the result on screen and evaluate it visually and then make a decision on what to change. After all it’s only the visual result that matters not what some light meter or camera is telling you it should be! I then just turn the power up or down or change my modifiers based on what I see.

      1. Couldn’t agree more, in the past I’ve sometimes felt I ‘should’ use a light meter but it takes away the instinctive and creative touch. you start getting bogged down with technicalities rather than a feel and love for an image. Absolutely wonderful video and images Karl

  6. Amazing series. I’ve learnt a lot with you guys. And I hope I’ll visit Iceland someday. The place is unique. Thanks!

  7. Bravo Karl and cast and crew! This series ROCKED! It was like being there with y’all! Thank you for all the insights and usable info!

    Question, when you wrapped what was the over all condition of your gear / equipment?
    Like new?
    Totally weather damaged, needs to be factor restored?

    1. Hi Rich, surprisingly the camera gear and lights were all OK but the drone didn’t work as it got volcanic ash inside it. The Hasselblad is pretty well weather sealed but needed a good clean. The Para’s got soaked so we had to leave them open in the hotel lobbys to dry which got some strange looks at breakfast and the Move packs you could kick down the road and they’d be fine as with most broncolor gear. So I’d say no worse than they were when we left and they are all still working in the studio today. Cheers Karl.

  8. Hi Karl, Just signed up to the education programme and really enjoying it. One question I would like to ask please is: Are these series of fashion shoots intended *specifically* to show the clothing off to its best advantage, or is the intention to create an image in which the clothing is only part of the whole? In other words, has a certain style of pose been adopted, i.e. more animated, than it would be if it was purely for a magazine shoot?

    1. Hi Gary, Fashion shoots vary dramatically, generally speaking there are two types: ‘Campaign’ and ‘Editorial’, campaign fashion shoots are generally a series of images to be used in high end expensive advertising campaigns with use on billboards and print adverts. Editorial are more a series of images that feature in a magazine, as an article, editorial shots are generally much lower in budget but still well shot and styled. However both types often follow a ‘theme’ to give some sort of narrative and ‘art’ to the clothes/images. What I’ve done with these example tutorials is demonstrate the ideas of creating images that have a ‘theme’ or a ‘narrative’ that help deliver the brand. So the idea here in Fashionscape and in the other individual fashion modules is to describe those concepts as well as the greater concept and importance of working with a team of people to achieve the results which is essential for fashion photography.

  9. That was great, Karl. This Fashionscape series has really enhanced my already deep interest in location portraits. I find myself now thinking of dramatic locations in my own area that not too long ago I would never have considered. There’s more our there than sunny beaches and bright cityscapes! 🙂

  10. Funny.. I just got back from Iceland .. it was such an amazing place to visit as a photographer. The one thing I learned about Iceland is that they don’t want tourists or anyone for that matter to stand on that moss..
    they say it takes over 100 years to grow back after someone stands on it.. : ( Having said that.. great shoot! But just so you know for the next time you visit !

    1. Hi Patricia, thank you for your comments and glad you liked the result I shot and I’m glad you also had a good trip. We did have local advice on all the locations and acquired the proper permits. We worked with a local production company called ‘True North’ who were very helpful, they work on all the big movies filmed there and helped us with our shooting locations. From our understanding this moss wasn’t easily damaged and at no point was it indicated to us that it would be a problem. Of course from my perspective I certainly don’t want to cause any problems to the environment especially for the sake of a photograph.

  11. Excellent series, very good presentation for the struggle it takes to obtain such amazing results. It shows what it takes to reach the levels you are at. Thank you for doing it and showing how it’s done.
    I have only one conclusion – MORE! 🙂

  12. Absolutely beautiful image you captured here! I’m learning a lot from your videos…thank you Karl!

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