23. Dramatic single light shadows

The results from this single light setup are unbelievable and can even be achieved in a small studio space. We show exactly how to control one light to yield this dramatic and impactful result.


  1. What is the difference in effect between the 2 blackboards (Aperture) and a barn door??

    1. Hi Ashraf, too much light spills out of the sides of the barn doors and due to the physics of light and casting a shadow the light needs to emanate from a point light source. With barn doors they would need to be attached to a standard reflector which stops it being a point light source. Also the further away the point light source is away from the aperture then the better the shadow will be. See chapter 17 of ‘Light Source’ for a further example.

    1. In this case it is a full length shot and not a close up portrait, she is also mostly in profile and the camera is also shooting from low. I wouldn’t recommend this lighting position for a conventional portrait for reasons explained in the ’emotion of light’ chapter.

  2. Yes, this is absolutely brilliant, I could actually see the light being shaped and controlled as if it were a liquid………. very exciting.

  3. do NASA call you when they have some issues with light physics :). thats totally mesmerising and honour to learn from you. thanks for cutting down the prices.

  4. Hi Karl,
    could this be achieved by using a Farnell Light and the use of the barn doors if I had a white walls/Floor studio like in the video? thank you

    1. Hi Luciana, no it would need to be done in an enclosed box to stop the light bouncing around the studio.

  5. Your understanding of light and light/shadow control is impeccable. Thank you so much.


You must be logged in to leave a comment.