Simulating sunlight with a studio light

In this One Light Setups section Karl puts theory into practice with the most basic of lighting setups. Using just one light, Karl demonstrates how to get creative and what you can do with a single light source.

In this chapter he uses a bare bulb light to simulate sunlight. Working in a small studio environment he shows you how to soften a hard light source to achieve pleasing effects similar to both harsh and hazy sunlight.

In this photography class we cover the following:

  • How to shoot creative portraiture using a single point light source
  • How to soften a hard light source
  • Photographing in a small studio
  • How to control light in a small space
  • Controlling shadows with directional light

Note: This course is available with English subtitles.


  1. Karl
    I’m curious if the choice of having the model wearing white came into play to help the outcome. If introducing colours or say a black or dark top, which would emphasize the contrast of a bare bulb set up, and create a more difficult scenario? The bounce and fill of the white room was amazing, because I wouldn’t think this would normally be an acceptable approach, but having the white on white seems to make it more magical. If the subject had more built in contrast, does that become an issue?

    1. I dont think the problem is the studio size – I think the problem is that the light affects the background. We want to be able to set our background and keep the background the same when we introduce the strobe. I will try the inverse square law but I think its more the direction of the light. If your light is infront of the model – I think it will affect the background.

  2. I can only find tracing paper (diffuser) in the 36ā€ length. Where do you get you diffuser paper from? Iā€™d like to buy some and make a few different scrims. I am currently using homemade scrims made out of Rip-stop Nylon. The paper diffuser seems like it might be better to use.

  3. I am working in a small space in my unfinished basement and I do not have white walls to help bounce light. Is there any other way to help control the lighting? In other words, is it possible to achieve ideal lighting for portraits in a small space with unfinished walls?

    1. Hi, I’d recommend getting white walls, either painting the space or obtaining some foam board panels or polyboards, these are mainstays of portrait work. You really need to take a look at ‘Lighting Theory’ sections to appreciate the workings of light which will help you understand what you might need. If your space is small then I still recommend it to be white but as I advise in many of our courses, when working in a small space you sometimes don’t want the light bouncing off of the white walls so you also need a way to control it with black polyboards or black curtains that can be drawn over the walls. Let me know if you have further questions but please do take a look at the first few chapters of the “Lighting Theory’ section. All the best Karl.

  4. Hi Karl, this is Dara from Cambodia. Love your detail tutorial. I’ve been working as freelancer/wedding/event and this is my very first time taking your class. Due to Covid-19 is also a perfect chance to upgrade my studio skill and also lighting skill. I hope u will do tutorial with CaptureOne and mirrorless cameras pretty soon.

  5. Hi Karl, there is no college for me this year due to Covid so I am going to work my way through your tutorials.
    In this shoot it looks like there is also some ambient light involved?
    With the studio I am using, I try to block out all light and just rely on the flash output. Am I wrong to do this? Iā€™m trying to figure out if I could get the light bright enough to simulate sunshine, if the room is completely blacked out to start with?
    Do you need to block off all natural light so that you have full control ?
    Hope this question makes sense.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Maxine, there is no ambient light in this shot, if there was any it would only be a small amount from the modelling lamp but I doubt it. I try to block all natural or ambient light when working in a controlled studio environment. I only allow ambient light in with flash when doing environmental portraits or fashion on location as these need to have that atmosphere blended in the shot.

  6. I duplicated your shots with an Alien Bee light and then a speedlight and I couldn’t believe the difference between them. The shadows in the corresponding speedlight shots were much darker. I see several several factors contributing to the difference.

    May I suggest that viewers replicate your setups with the gear that they have and will be using. In the past I have mixed my studio flashes with speedlights and thought they were interchangeable. Oops. Maybe not?

    1. Hi, the key difference is that light doesn’t come out sideways from a speedlite which of course will mean less bounce around the space you are working in and therefore darker shadows.

  7. Hi again šŸ™‚
    I have a question…
    How do I balance the light of a modeling lamp and the light of the flash? Can I shoot without the light of the flash/just with the modeling lamp? What’s the main advantage of the flash in such a case (like the one above)?
    Thank you so much

    1. Hi HC, with flash photography using a studio light the modelling lamp has little impact on the overall exposure. There are the odd occassion if you are shooting at a wide aperture that it has an impact so I turn it off or put it on low. To check simply take a test shot without your flash trigger.

  8. Dear Karl,

    I am a passionate photographer from India, I am following you from quite a long time on youtube, and recently purchased your course, it has many things to learn & I am enjoying it too.

    I wanted to start my own Studio to earn some additional income. – need your suggestion on what all courses I should follow to become a better Product and Food Photographer?
    I purchased One Godox AD 200 light, and stand, I have Canon 600D camera and planning to buy full-frame in the coming two months. As per the budget, I will be buying Canon EOS R.

    Please share your suggestions & Guide me the flow of your course to become a product photographer

      1. Thank you Karl for the quick response, Surely I will go through your suggestion and will get back to you.

  9. Hi Karl
    I noticed/feel that you shoot slightly above eye level of the model. Do you shoot at eye level or above? Which one is recommended?
    Thx in advance

    1. Hi Jayasree, nothing is set in stone. It depends on the model, the mood, the background, the style of shot but mostly I shoot at eye level or slightly above.

  10. Hi Mr. Karl,

    I would like to thank you for the informative lighting lessons and would like to ask about if painting my home studio walls (Grey) to prevent reflections and depend only on lights and modifiers, reflectors,.. etc for better control of light direction!!!
    I was thinking in that before watching this lesson, so is it good to keep on my idea or switch my plan to pure white paint?!!

    1. Hi, As you will see later in this course you could go black/grey but personally I would prefer the versatility of having white but having curtains that I can pull over the white walls with black material.

  11. LOVE the courses so far!

    Quick question – the walls in my home (studio) are an off-white/cream color – will the light reflection from the cream color walls be an issue? How important/beneficial would it be for me to re-paint white?

  12. Hi Karl,

    you have a lot of expensive gear, but the most important one in your studio and the one I’m jealeous of, is the little chair on which you stand to take pictures ! I didn’t see it on the Broncolor catalog, they must have created a special one in Switzerland for you ! hahaha…

    Thank you for this very interesting video

  13. Hi Karl,

    Can I get Raw/Jpeg files to see it more clearer and understand?

    1. Hi Chinmaydhayalkar, unfortunately we cannot give out our photographs as these are copyrighted images and contain, models too and we cannot risk the higher resolution images ending up in the wrong place.

  14. For those of us without studio lighting could you bounce light from a reflector using a speedlight? Or would this only be good for fill in?

  15. Hi,Karl! Great training material! Does the model is using a makeup specifically for sunlight? That hard light didn’t show specular highlights on her face… additionally, does Lightroom is applying any presets while importing? Looks it has an slight green color cast on it….

    1. Hi Luis, no the model just did a very good job on her own make up. Lightroom can import with a specific preset if you tell it but I don’t have anything set on mine to do that, I just import the RAW files and then adjust, I may have had the colour balance set slightly off in camera but I’m never too worried about that as I’m shooting RAW and can adjust the colour balance easily afterwards.

  16. The lesson’s are just PURE GOLD. The thoroughness is just unmatched. Every situation explained in great DETAIL. Just AWESOME!!!

  17. On the light you took the reflector off of it looked like the bulb was covered with a clear cylinder that is frosted on the end. Is this cover some type of small simple modifier or is it for bulb protection or something else?

  18. Hi Karl, I have just just subscribed to your material – You are an amazing trainer and the material is comprehensive and thorough! I have a question on the first video – at point 20.9 you are saying that as you have brought the light higher and closer to the model and removed the diffuser you need to bring the exposure back down from 6.2 to 5.7 . This is not clear to me why you need to open the aperture to 5.7 and allow more light in this instance as your are closer and removed the diffuser rather than close the aperture from 6.2 to i.e.. 7 ? I am a bit confused on this. Many thanks Luciana

    1. Hi Luciana, thanks for signing up and I’m glad you are enjoying the material. The numbers I’m referring to are not the aperture they are the power settings on the studio flash. So I am bringing the light power from 6.2 down to 5.7. Dropping from 6.2 to 5.2 would be equivalent to a one f-stop reduction in brightness (like going from f8 to f11) so in this instance I dropped the light by half an f-stop.

  19. Totally enjoyed the Chapter 16. It was fun and a lot of learning…creating those shadows was the biggest takeaway. Karl you are so focussed and involved that you actually forgot that you could use your phone to control the intensity of the Broncolour light via broncolour app…you moved up and down several times…Pure Passion and 100 % commitment is what I could see…Well Done Karl. Fantastic !!!

  20. Hi Karl, As a keen amateur photographer who has been following your work and training material for some time, I wanted to say that this training is amazing and FANTASTIC value for money.
    As a recent grandad I wondered if you have ever done any newborn / baby photography? If not do you have any suggestions on lighting for this?

    1. Hi Peter, I’ve only photographed my own kids when they were babies and I always found big soft light close to them looks most appealing, I would try one very large softbox of scrim roll on one side very close to the baby and a large white reflector close on the other side. The light can be side on or slightly above or above depending on the sitting position of the baby, you would need to experiment on this. Go for neutral soft backgrounds i.e. white/cream blankets, rugs, etc and a white wall/background. You can also use props like a wicker basket or a soft bean bag too. Try some very close up shallow depth of field shots f1.8/f2 focused on the eyes and then also the whole baby at f8/f11 I’m sure you’d get something good out of that. The most difficult part is keeping the baby happy! If you really want to go wild then check out some of Anne Geddes work for inspiration.

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