Karl Features in This WIRED Article on Lighting Like a Pro

WIRED recently asked Karl for his thoughts on the importance of lighting in photography and filmmaking. His responses feature in an article titled ‘How to Light Your Photos and Videos Like a Pro’.
The article explains that, whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, getting the basics of lighting right is essential to creating effective images and videos.

Lighting: where science meets art

Appearing alongside a handful of other world-renowned photographers, filmmakers and educators, Karl emphasises the emotional aspect of light.

“Photography is an art form, but most of our response to it is based on science,” he says, before underscoring the importance of “using the scientific part to enhance the emotional part.”

Later in the article, Karl points out that our visual systems respond primarily to light and dark rather than colour. “We’re seeing in black and white without realizing it.”


© Karl Taylor


Sunlit Shadows Cosmetics Shoot

Karl shows you how to produce an eye-catching, colourful, graphic arrangement of three Elemis face-care products.
Watch Now

Let there be lighting

As a professional photographer and educator with more than 25 years of experience in the industry, Karl has a deep knowledge of lighting – both the theory and the practice. Even better, he knows how to explain the key concepts and techniques in an accessible, easy-to-follow way.

In the Lighting Theory and Equipment section on Visual Education, Karl explains essential lighting theory and demonstrates how to use this knowledge to recognise, modify and control light. He also covers different types of studio lighting, plus useful equipment and accessories for studio photography, backgrounds, lenses, and more.


Lighting Theory and Equipment

A complete introduction to studio lighting and equipment, covering fundamental concepts related to portraiture, product and fashion photography.
Watch Now
Together, these classes form an invaluable knowledge bank that lays the foundation for successful photography.

Don’t get gear-obsessed

Though it’s important to understand how your essential gear works, as Karl emphasises in the WIRED article, you shouldn’t worry about having exactly the right equipment. Whether it’s your camera or your lenses, your lights or your modifiers, the quality of your kit matters much less than the techniques you apply.

“Photography is not about gear in the same way that writing isn’t about a keyboard,” he says.

That said, understanding the wide range of lighting modifiers available, as well as of the effects they can help you achieve, will help you turn your creative vision into real results.


Testing and Comparing 25+ Lighting Modifiers

Watch Karl and the team conduct a thorough comparison of each effect, helping you figure out exactly which modifier you need to achieve the results you’re looking for.
Watch Now

Hard vs soft light

Elsewhere in the article, Karl explains the difference between hard and soft light. To do so, he uses the example of the hard sunlight of a bright, cloudless day versus the soft light that comes from a cloudy sky.

In other words, hard light comes from a small source, such as a bare bulb, or the sun in a clear sky.


© Karl Taylor


Simulating Sunlight With a Studio Light

Watch Karl use a bare bulb to simulate sunlight, demonstrating how to soften a hard light source to achieve pleasing effects evoking both harsh and hazy sunlight.
Watch Now
Soft light, meanwhile, denotes light that has been diffused – by clouds, for example, or by a scrim or softbox.

© Karl Taylor


Soft Single-Light Portrait

In this portrait photography class, Karl and Urs explain how to create the softest light possible.
Watch Now

Lighting for filmmaking

As the WIRED article explains, a good understanding of lighting is equally essential for filmmaking and videography as it is for photography.

Commercial filmmaker Austen Paul says that “Understanding lighting in filmmaking will open up so many job possibilities—interviews, product filmmaking, commercials, and short films.”

That’s why our Introduction to Filmmaking section contains two classes focused specifically on light. These are Lights for Filmmaking and Lighting for Mood in Filmmaking.


Introduction to Filmmaking

In this 9-class course, Karl and the team introduce you to all the essential terminology, concepts and equipment in the world of filmmaking and videography.
Watch Now

Lighting for CGI

Mastering the theory and practice of lighting is also incredibly useful for anyone looking to work with CGI.

Though you will be working within your chosen software (Blender, for example) and lighting your subject within your 3D Viewport, the principles and techniques you apply as you light your 3D model are the same as those used in photography.

It’s for this reason that the Blender 3D Basics course in our 3D CGI section features a dedicated class on Lighting.


Blender 3D Basics

In this 11-class course, Blender expert Ethan Davis introduces you to the key tools and techniques you need to get the best results out of this powerful software.
Watch Now

Shining a light on essential techniques

Along with his lighting insights, the article features several of the images Karl creates in our photography classes here on Visual Education.

One of these classes is Creative Portrait Lighting 2.0. In this class, originally streamed live as part of our Live Workshops series, Karl demonstrates how to create an eye-catching portrait using just three studio lights, including a Godox projection attachment and some other DIY modifiers.


© Karl Taylor


Creative Portrait Lighting 2.0

Discover techniques to make your portraits pop.
Watch Now

Another image featured in the WIRED article is this one, taken from a series of classes Karl created for our Still Life Photography section.

These classes are designed to help you create frame-worthy images with simple equipment and even simpler subject matter.

Lighting the shot

© Karl Taylor


Still Life Pasta: Simple One-Light Product Shoot

Learn to control exposure and shadow density as Karl uses a combination of fill reflectors to create a warm, sunlit feel.
Watch Now

Get lighting right

At the conclusion of the WIRED article, Karl states again the significant role lighting plays in the emotional impact of an image.

“I don’t make lighting decisions based on measurements, I make them based on an emotional response,” he says. 

So if you want to create images that successfully engage the viewers’ emotions, you need to take the time to get light right. And Visual Education is a great place to start.

Check out the full WIRED article: How to Light Your Photos and Videos Like a Pro

© Visual Education. All rights reserved. No content on this page may be used or shared by third parties.

Recommended Content

Photography Lighting

Introduction and Understanding Light

Watch Now
Lighting Angles

Angles of Incidence and Reflection

Watch Now

Leave a Comment