V- Flat full length

Using three studio lights, Karl continues to demonstrate a number of creative lighting setups using just basic equipment.

This photography class shows you a clever way to use poly-boards and bare bulb lights as Karl demonstrates a v-flat lighting setup that can be used to create stunning, soft lighting that is ideal for flattering three quarter and full length shots.

In this photography class we cover the following:

  • Portrait photography: How to take three quarter length portrait photos
  • How to balance multiple studio lights
  • Broad soft light for three quarter and full length images
  • How to create your own ‘softbox’
  • Studio lighting power ratios

NOTE: This course is available with English subtitles


  1. Hello Karl, First let me say i cant stop watching and learning. Thank you. My question is this. On the final image, the background light at the lower leg seems to be a spill from the scrim i believe. is this intentional? To me it looks like 2 balls of light instead of the soft fade of the main background light. Keep up the great work My head is exploding with knowledge that i am gaining. Brian

    1. Hi Brian and thank you. Yes that is light from the scrim, it could possibly have been reduced by placing a black ‘flag’ in the lower area but I didn’t concern me at the time and I thought it looked OK.

  2. Hi Karl, would a120 DEGREE REFLECTOR on the main light better control/eliminate spill from the main light (currently bare bulb) to the back ground, I would think you would not see the bulb from the background, in addition create a more even spread on the reflector board for the main light?
    (BY THE WAY loving your stuff!)

  3. Karl. For shooting full-length shots, similar to this, what F-stop would you recommend shooting at to assure that not only the eyes are pin sharp, but also the dress too for shooting wedding/ball gown dresses for ‘stock’ image shots where you need all the detail in the dress to also be pin sharp?

    Would be using a 24-70 Canon L series F2.8 lens at the 70mm end.

    1. Hi Nigel, I always start with f11 as it’s a good sweetspot in most lenses and then zoom in on the file take a look around and go from there. The focal length of the lens also has a bearing as wider angle lenses naturally have a greater depth of field, also your shooting distance and angle of view. For example if you are shooting mid height of your model from further away with a short telephoto and your camera is perfectly parallel to the vertical (model) then she/he will be on the same plane as the focus runs.

      1. Karl. I’d like to pick your brains just a tad more on this.

        Fairly straight forward question but I’m having a tad of trouble with exposure on this one. I’m using two silver-lined umbrellas at the front for key and fill, both set to same power, I don’t have v-flat pollyboards.

        I know you don’t use flash meters, but bear with me here.

        In a studio environment with a key and fill light (both 500 watt monoblocks) I have key light set at f5.6 after taking a flash meter reading for given shutter speed of 1/160th second.

        I put in fill light and, in this instance, I want the ratio to be the same i.e. f5.6 also. So both heads are set to half power and are at the same 45 degree axis either side of camera and the same distance from the model and both giving a reading (when taken individually while the other is turned off) of f5.6.

        So, individually, they both give a flash meter reading of f5.6, but when they are both turned on at the same time and I take another flash meter reading from the centre of the subjects face just below the chin I get f8, which stands to reason as some of the light from each will be spilling onto the other side of the face also.

        So, what f-stop should I be setting my camera to? If, I were to have the fill light set to take a flash reading of f2.8 i.e. two stops lower than the key light at f5.6, I’d be setting my camera to f5.6, right, ignoring the lesser power of the fill light? So that would suggest that both heads set to f5.6, individually, would also suggest that I set the camera to f5.6 also, correct?

        I’m asking because if I set my camera to f8, the reading I get when both flashes fire into the flash meter, the images seem about a stop or so under exposed. At F5.6 they seem about half a stop over exposed. My computer monitor is calibrated and I’ve checked them on two different Mac computers.

        What’s the school of thought on this, with two lights set at the same distance at the same power and both, individually, give a flash meter reading of f5.6, but both together give f8, which of these two f-stops do I set camera to?

        1. Hi Nigel, this one is a bit of a head spinner as it is very far removed from the way I work. First of all if you are saying your monitor is calibrated then you have to go with what you see and what the histogram says rather than any specificaitons of the light or the readings on the light meter. Some lights claim X power output only to find the same spec light doesn’t put out the same etc etc but. There are so many variables here with light spill light bouncing off the floor, a closer wall, etc etc that you’d have to scientifically rule out any such variables too. You also have to consider additional modelling lights (especially if they are bright ones). In theory if you have one light and you add another at the same power then you’d have to close the aperture by one stop as you would have doubled the amount of light. If you have two lights and you added two more you would also have doubled the amount of light so you would have to close the aperture by one stop. But of course this all varies with the direction of the light, the modifier on the light and the earlier variables I mentioned. I think it’s very important for you to stop thinking about ratios, measurements and instead pre-visualise the result you want to achieve. Even if you are looking at another photographers image as an example simply study it and determine what you are seeing. Add your first light or set of lights and determine if they visually match what you want based on the aperture that you want to shoot at. For example you may have pre-determined that you want F8 because of the DOF creative look. So stick with that and bring the lights to match that, then add your next lights and adjust just the lights to suit, adding new lights will of course increase exposure in a new area and they can even add exposure to the other lights because they can bounce off the modifiers of the first lights. But ultimately just look at what’s happening by adding one light at a time and even turning the first lights off while you look at the second or third light so you can totally determine what they are doing independently from the first ones. If for example the lights are too bright for f8 then you’d have to look at lowering ISO or moving lights further away or applying ND filters to the lens. 95% of the time I’ve determined my aperture before I start and then everything is adjusted to match that and not the other way around. It’s all done visually and as you will experience in many of my live show replays and courses that’s how I create the images I create.

        1. Thank you for the detailed answer, that all makes sense and that’s how I’m going to try and work my shoots from now on.

  4. Karl at around the 9:30 min make you were dealing with bare bulb spilling onto the back ground. You had brought in a poly board to flag the light from spilling. Would it still work if a smaller flag was attached at the light source? Basically if you do not see the bare bulb from the back ground that should solve the light spill problem correct?

    1. Hi Geoff, yes that would work to. As long as the same amount of light was reaching the V-flat then I can’t see why not.

    1. Hi Michael, all of the equipment that I use for each shoot is listed on the lower right of each page below the video. Cheers Karl.

  5. Good video to understand, step by step, the meaning of balancing the light, as you gradually choose the main one you want.

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