White Seamless Tutorial :: Part 2b :: Full Length With OneLight


I felt challenged today to see if I could shoot a full length portrait on a plain old white seamless background with a single battery powered light source. There is this thing I do with barebulb flashes that blows the background to white and I use an adjoining wall near the subject to catch light from the bare bulb to bounce back to light the subject’s face. The problem with trying to do a full length with a single light source is dealing with the light stand getting in the way. Positioning it out of the frame is a pain. You say four letter “f” words (like film) trying to keep the light stand out of the way and lighting the walls and trying to keep light from the flash off of the wall (edit – I mean subject). 

The challenge I gave myself today was to shoot without a light stand. I figured I would try placing the bare bulb flash on the ground behind my client and use those bi-fold cutter doors as reflectors to catch the light from the flash and bounce it back to the front of the subject. I taped the Sunpak 120J and Pocket Wizard with white tape to further conceal the rig in case I was in the frame. The challenge was to not have to remove anything in Photoshop.Here is the taped rig… 


Here is the result…


Not bad really. A little flare around the ankles that is giving me a color shift on the legs. I can live with that and “fix” it if needed. Better than trying to remove light stands from photos. Here’s another shot with the same lighting scenario… 


It was a slight PITA keeping separation of her light hair on the white BG. Just a hair of the “fill” slider in Lightroom helped bring the exposure of her face up. Here is wider shot showing a bit of the bi-fold doors acting as reflectors… 


I was out of time so I didn’t try the same scenario with the tile board. I’ll try that another time. 

There is another way of doing this with a single light source but you need more power than four double “A” batteries and a pretty dang large light source. I’ll shoot one of those when I get back from my week teaching OneLight’s in California. 

Speaking of that, I have to be at the airport in seven hours. I’ll be working on the next part of this seamless tutorial on the plane. 

On a side note… 

Fellow photographer and all around amazing guy, Troy Stains, stopped by today while we were shooting. I have to share this image I shot of him. He’s pimp.  This was part of our shooting for the OneLight DVD coming out this summer. 


Continue Reading :: Part 3 :: From White To Black.  

ETA – If you have questions about any of this, drop them in the comment section here on Part 5 of the tutorial. I will be following up on this tutorial with a new post answering all the questions at once.

Cheers,  Zack


  • Syd said on May 4, 2008

    That’s utterly sick :)

  • Roël Dixon-Mahatoo said on May 4, 2008

    Pure genius, Zack! Thank you for sharing this!

    Your Canadian Pal,

  • Christoph said on May 5, 2008

    That “rider” pic is awesome – would you share the strobist info???
    Great, great work here, Zack!!! Love all your stuff, wish you would do a OneLight WS in Germany as well;=)

  • Melissa Powell said on May 5, 2008

    That’s Cassie Lyle!! :-)

    Great work Zack!

  • zack said on May 5, 2008

    Strobist info on the last image… Alien Bee B 1600 at full power in a 50″ Westcott Apollo softbox fired with PW’s.


  • erikdixon said on May 5, 2008

    Now i’m glad i shot those behind the scenes images……thanks for using it as the header!!

  • Stina said on May 6, 2008

    These tutorials are awesome…keep them coming. I’ve realized the errors I’ve made in trying to get the same shots. Thanks!

  • Lee Bass said on May 13, 2008


    I live down in Augusta and cant seem to find an outlet for the paper rolls. You got a source in Atlanta? I get up there a bit for business and I’ll just haul it back.


  • John Buckingham said on May 14, 2008

    Great stuff. I’m eating it up!!!


  • Andrew said on May 16, 2008

    Wow, The power of just 1 flash. That is amazing. Are you having any workshops in the Grand Rapids Michigan area?
    How about a tutorial on working with small spaces? poor me.

  • Wedding Photographer France said on June 11, 2008

    A dvd?! Bookmark me for one!

  • Olivier said on June 11, 2008

    This is great info!

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • fredericksburg wedding photographer said on June 20, 2008

    Excellent work and tutorials. Keep it up…

  • fredericksburg wedding photographer said on June 20, 2008

    email correction…

  • Tasha said on October 5, 2008

    What did you use for the bi-fold doors?

  • Eero said on December 16, 2008

    These are awesome , which I found these months ago.

  • Chip Johansen said on March 12, 2009

    Really great tutorial! Do you have any suggestions on where to purchase 9′ rolls here in Atlanta at a decent price? The Wolf on Peidmont is going out of business and Showcase wants $70 a roll. Just curious to see where you get yours. Love your OneLight stuff also. Thanks for sharing!

  • trish thomas said on March 29, 2009

    Zack you are blowing me away!
    Can you say where you placed the flash head? Is it from where you are kneeling. Must see if they sell tile board here in Perth.

  • Robert Lewis said on April 7, 2009

    WOW! I just found your site and blog. I am totally blown away at the way you deliver you tutorials, rants, gripes, debates, life stories……
    This is one of the best blogs I have visited (period!)

  • bruno said on April 16, 2009

    An alternative to paper can also be (just have to try it) a roll of vinyl flooring. Just paint the back of this roll with flat white paint. Just try it and experiment. You may have to re-paint it ever few weeks

  • Juan Carlos said on April 20, 2009

    Thank you again for sharing these tutorials. I hope to attend one of your workshops soon.

  • banjo said on June 11, 2009


    The last photo on a bike. I take it that this is stopped down to make the background alot darker to empasize the subject also to put more emphasis on the overcast clouds? I’m guessing that the softbox is aimed at the subjects’ head and higher than the subject? I extremely love your tutorials! and looking at some of the budget setup. I’m extremely inspired now. I’m using some of your techniques this sunday and ideas w/ your studio setup.

  • Stephen said on September 13, 2009

    Zack, This is awesome! You are now my new mentor. As soon as the economy gives me permission to remove the ball-gag from my mouth, I’m signin’ up for a workshop!

  • Shane Kelley said on May 5, 2010

    Really cool – we all love to drag around as little equipment as possible!

  • Giovanni Arteaga said on June 17, 2010

    Dude, I can’t believe I just found out about you yesterday. This tutorial rocks! I will buy your DVD on my next paid gig. Let me know when you are teaching in Southern California so I can sign up for a class.

  • Ryuji said on October 21, 2010

    If you poked a small hole on the backdrop at the level of the model’s waist, wouldn’t it be better and easier?

  • Melissa Morse said on November 18, 2014

    Hey Zack, stumbled on this tutorial today, and the text is proving helpful, but the images aren’t working :( If you could fix the pics, so I can get the full experience, I’d be eternally grateful. Thanks!

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