21. Soft single light

For this informative photography class Karl is joined by broncolor’s Urs Recher as he continues to demonstrate how creative you can be using just a single light setup.

In this portrait photography class Urs explains how to create the softest light possible. Using one of the most commonly used modifiers, he goes into detail about the importance of positioning and how to position your light for maximum effect. Together Karl and Urs demonstrate common mistakes photographers make using softboxes and how to correct these mistakes.

Photographing in a large studio, the pair also discuss how this setup would work in a smaller studio before creating their own to demonstrate exactly how this setup would work and how simple changes to your studio can make a big difference.

In this photography class we cover the following:

  • Portrait photography using a single light
  • How to achieve soft light using a large light source
  • Common mistakes when using a softbox
  • Camera lenses for portraiture photography
  • The inverse square law
  • How to photograph in a small studio

For more information on softboxes, read our blog post here.

Note: This course is available with English subtitles

Comments

  1. This has been the most benifical single light video for me so far so thanks but could I ask what difference would it have, if any to use a 100 x 100 or 60 x80 soft box with out anything else changing?

  2. This is an excellent lesson. I have that same 85mm lens but would have never thought to incorporate an extension tube along with it and frame so closely. I’m very pleased with this course.

  3. Excellent lesson and very useful with the examples in the smaller studio. I guess I will be able to replicate the settings from the shoot with my 150 Cm Octobox softbox?

  4. Outstanding. Very detailed and informative. Light distance ratios of the inverse square law as it applies to brightness of eye highlights or glossy skin is something I would never have thought of. It makes perfect sense to apply to specular reflections as well. Thanks. Great courses.

  5. The large soft source is my favorite as close as possible giving the wonderful wrap around soft feel

  6. Hi Karl, I have invested in few speedlights already, would it work as well as the lights you using in those excellent tutorials?

    1. Hi Jonathan as long as you can diffuse the speedlite into a large light source then yes. For example putting a speedlite into this particular type softbox would work well.

  7. Hi Karl,
    I just want to ask a simply question.

    I saw your video, when you shot portrait or beauty, you often shot as horizontal frame.

    Can you give me some advice for when to shot horizontal or when to shot vertical more often?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Ryo, I’m afraid this comes down to personal preference. Study lots of photographs you like from lots of different photographers and make a note of when they are vertical or horizontal and see if you can start to build a ‘feeling’ for why and when they work. I’m afraid I can’t tell you why I go for one over the other it’s just a feeling of what will work and often I shoot both anyway.

  8. I am so glad that this courses cover small studio comparisons as well, as I have the smallest studio in the world )) ..
    Really helpful tips to consider..
    Thanks.

  9. Excellent tutorial again. I’ve made the mistake of soft box distance. And this explains the shiny skin and catch light difference between distances of the light. It’s amazing after you learn something and review your past work how glaring the mistakes are. I will definitely be producing better work from this tutorial alone.

  10. Love this light. Looks gorgeous.
    I always had quite distinct highlights in the eyes. Now I understand, I need to bring the soft box even closer! Thanks! Nice to see Urs participate too.

  11. The information in these course videos is priceless.
    It’s like getting the final piece of the jigsaw and then everything just suddenly clicks into place.

    Thank you Karl and the team.

  12. At last Karl I now know how to use a soft box correctly, and I am able to get beautiful soft light thank’s to understanding the inverse square law, thank’s Karl great tutorial.
    Tony Leurs.

  13. Karl, please do tell if your final shots are straight out of camera or a little retouched. Your lovely model has an awesome make-up and skin. But with my 100mm macro Tokina I always bring up the model’s face look like the surface of the Moon. I’m not talking here about the lights, I used them in the softest manner I could.

    1. Hi Bogdan, apart from the removal of a couple of small pimples with is what it looked like straight out of the camera. Soft light used like this is usually quite flattering to models with good skin and make-up, harsh point lighting on close up on models would require more retouching though.

  14. Another excellent video. I had a few aha moments there!

    I’ve got a slightly larger 180×136 softbox, so going to have to give this a try as it’s a fantastic soft look.

  15. This is invaluable stuff Karl, thank you! Do you think there is a way to shoot full length shots with a simple light setup in a small studio?

  16. Karl,

    Such a valuable lesson on the size and distance of light. I still see some many photographers placing the softbox and other large lighting sources so far away.

  17. Hey Karl. I am wondering what the other photographer (Ors?) was talking about after the set of close-in shots at around the 9:00 minute mark. He says something about the cropping of the frame and the model’s forehead. Does he want to lower the amount of forehead in the shots, or increase the amount of forehead in the frame? I just couldn’t quite hear what he was saying.

    Is there a preferred amount of the forehead to include or a specific way to frame the face on extreme close-up shots like this ?

    Really enjoying the lessons. I have taken pages of notes.

    Take care.

    Tony

  18. Hello Karl , thanks for all the great classes .

    Do you have any idea if the flash damage the eyes ?
    And if putting the flash closer to the model is damaging more her eyes ?
    Thanks , I am modeling since 22 years and it is always a question i had in mind when the photographer was putting the light so close.

    1. Hi Camille, if you have a very powerful flash (1600J or 3200J) and it is almost bare or with the standard reflector and you looked at it when it flashed then yes this could temporarily damage your eyes. Generally speaking when they have softboxes or umbrellas on the light is diffused so the intensity in the eyes is not as strong and i’ve not know any model who has had a problem.

  19. Karl,
    I’ve noticed you seem to enjoy shooting with your flash on manual, however, do you ever use TTL for portraits? Quick business headshots possibly?

  20. Hi Karl. If you have time, I was wondering if you could tell me what the photographer is doing when focusing on the model, around 9:20 in the vid? It looks like he aims a little higher and then moves the camera down a smidge before taking the shot. Why is he doing that?

    1. Hi Susan, he’s locking the focus on the models eyes with the central focusing point and then recomposing the shot so her eyes are not in the centre of the picture.

  21. Hi Karl, thank you very much for your lessons! Very interesting! I have a little question. I only have 60×60 sorft boxes with my Broncolor kit. Is it possible to have the same result with a softbox 60×60 + a diffuser? For now I can’t buy a Big Broncolor Softbox… or maybe I can make something by myself?

    1. Hi Anastasia, If you use a large diffuser panel in front of your 60×60 then yes. It’s all about creating the biggest light panel or softbox as close as possible to the subject. You will also see variations on this in the other chapters.

  22. Hi Karl,

    These tutorial are as good as it gets, really! Wonderful stuff.

    A quick question: when using the Siros 800 L, I noticed there’s a huge lag with the shutter i.e. I press, and it will take the photo a full second later (if not more). Is this normal? I shoot Nikon D810.

    Seems excessive to me…

    Thanks,
    Enrico

  23. A Canon 2x Extender is used. Two questions. Is an extender the same as a Canon Teleconverter? And why would you not just use a longer lens? Not sure about this.

    Thanks,

    David

    1. Hi David,

      1. Yes it is the same
      2. I don’t have a longer lens as the very good ones cost a lot of money to obtain the necessary quality and only really worth it if you do a lot of long lens photography such as sports or wildlife.
      Cheers Karl.

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