Introduction and Understanding Light

To truly understand working with studio lighting you first have to understand light. This opening chapter of our “Lighting Theory and Equipment” course covers the fundamentals of light, equipping you with the knowledge you need to work confidently with studio lighting.

Through a number of visual demonstrations, Karl takes you through the practicalities of light, exploring the effect hard and soft light has on shadows, texture and three-dimensionality. He also shows you how to achieve exact control over reflections, shadows and highlights.

Karl provides a complete explanation, along with further practical demonstrations, of the inverse square law and colour spectrum of light.

In this photography class we cover the following:

  • Different light sources and their effects
  • Hard light vs soft light
  • Careful control of light and shadows
  • Using reflectors and negative fill
  • Revealing texture
  • Inverse square law
  • Colour spectrum of light

NOTE: This photography class is available with English subtitles.


  1. Hello Karl,

    I just signed up and watched this video. Thank you for a clear description of concepts that I have half understood over the years but never quite completely grasp. Your examples were excellent. I was especially helped by the explanation of Inverse Square Law. That one helped me better understand how moving the light closer and further away and the size of the light affects the result.

    I now also finally understand why I have stayed away from fluorescent lighting and struggled with results when I had to work with it. The difference in the vibrancy of the colors was stark and obvious they way you showed it.


  2. Hello Karl, first of all thank you for making the course so easy to learn and to understand all this info.
    second, i wanted to ask you, what’s the best material to use for a scrim??

    1. Hi, either LEE 216 or LEE 400 lux, both will give similar results but the 400LUX is a bit tougher but I think more expensive. See the chapter in the product section about making your own scrims.

  3. Hi in the module introduction and understanding of light, id like to know if using always on lighting or speedlights are superior, especially for someone still learning. I saw how beneficial it was to have the lights on to look at the shadows, but i am confused as when he took the pictures it seems as though they never went off. He said that the light on was not in the shot, but I never saw it go off and back on again. Also I have a couple of square soft boxes already that i use with speedlites (lastolight). i will buy a different light source if necessary (currently using cannon 600-EX-RT Speedlites) even though I dont want to, but I just want to master using studio lighting. I think it is so cool. I have been trying to use LED Daylight lights in the room, but always felt that I needed to turn them off before taking the picture. This is hard in night situations LOL. I shutter to ask what a decent setup for lighting is going to cost me. I do have 4 stands, 4 speedlites, and 2 soft boxes. I am using mostly a Canon 5DSR and have a 5D Mark III as a backup

    1. Hi, the point light source was a modelling lamp from inside a studio flash (the studio flash tube can also be a point light source). An LED can be a good point light source but often they are not bright enough for most types of photography. You will learn more about this as you watch more of the classes.

  4. Hello Karl

    if I take a photo outside when it is cloudy 9000 kelvins and then I adjust it in the post-production in the photoshop to 5600 kelvins, the result will appear as if at the full spectrum of color ..?

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