Polyboard Lighting

This ingenious setup will give you plenty to ‘reflect’ on!

In this three-light class, Karl shows you how to produce great results for portrait or beauty lighting using the simplest of lighting modifiers. In fact, the main ‘light source’ is a piece of white poly-board!

This portrait photography class also demonstrates a more economical alternative to the popular clamshell beauty lighting setup that requires no softbox.

Watch as Karl walks you through the setup, his workflow and camera and lighting settings needed to get this beautiful image. He also shows you how, with just minor changes, it’s possible to further soften indirect light for a lovely flattering look.

In this class:

  • Beauty photography lighting setup
  • Clamshell lighting alternative
  • Using indirect light
  • How to create soft light
  • Softbox modifications

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. I wish you would do a segment on c stands, grips and such. I’ve been shopping for some and would like to have more information on what to look for in stands, and what all is needed.
    Virtually no one online seems to go into this.

    1. Hi Michael, I rarely use f5.6 for fashion. I might use that for a shallow DOF in portrait but in Fashion I’m often using f11, f16. Please see our fashion section to see more examples.

  2. Very interesting results using the reflector and without. The physics makes sense the soft box look and beauty dish style look along with the handling of the background lighting. Something to add to my setups. Great session!!

  3. Hi Karl, Question on shutter speed with all the lighting chapters I did not know if you kept the max sync speed. I just wanted to know if there was a better place to start with its speed?

    1. Hi Edward, I’d always shoot at the maximum sync speed simply to block out your modelling lights. If you are shooting wide aperture you may need to turn the modelling light off.

  4. Nice soft light done about as simply as possible. Slightly reminiscent of a Dean Collins setup.

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