Rim Lighting For Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I’ll show you how you can make rim lip portraits in your small home studio. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching Adorama TV, brought to you by Adorama the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers, and today I’m back in my small home studio and doing a rim lit portrait. Now for me rim lighting is a low-key effect, so that means a really dark background, the model separated from that background by a thin rim of light to achieve that look. Well there’s actually several ways we could do it, and I’m going to cover a couple of them in this video, so let’s get some light set, let’s get a model in and let’s get shooting. So to help me out today I’ve got the amazing Sophie. Sophie is going to be the model for this shoot, and there’s a couple of things I’ve set up already. The first one is a black background that’s going to help me get a nice clean dark dramatic looking background, but this only really works if Sophie is turned and facing towards me, because we need a profile picture. Now behind Sophie I’ve got a single flash, now I’ve positioned this so it’s right behind Sophie’s head. I’ve metered it out, so it matches my camera settings. Let’s take a shot okay, here we go and I’m trying to hide the light right behind Sophie, and get her evenly lit all the way across, but try as I might, I’m always gonna get brighter hair than I do around the front of her face, and it doesn’t quite look the way I’d like it to be, so to get a bit more light on to the front of Sophie’s face, I’m just gonna take the light from behind her, and just move it around to the side, so pointing it back at Sophie. In theory this should put more light on the front of Sophie’s face, but you can already imagine that there might be a slight downside to this one light setup, let’s try it. And it works really well on the front of Sophie, but of course we don’t see anything on the back of Sophie’s head, so to get around that what I’ve done is I’ve added a second light and its job is to put a little rim of light around the back of Sophie’s head… Now it’s set a little bit higher than the first light because I’d like it to do two jobs, the back and also slightly the top of Sophie’s head as well. Let’s see how this goes. Here we go, and that works really nicely. I’ve got some nice light on the back of Sophie, although looking at the front of Sophie, I would like the lighting to be a bit softer, it’s quite a harsh light because of course I’m using a small light source. So I can make the light softer really easily, by using a larger light source, now in this case I’m going to use this strip box 12 x 56 inch strip box, which is frankly a little bit too big for what I need, but it’ll do the job. If you don’t have a strip box it doesn’t matter, you can get the same look using a standard soft box. If you want that thin light look, you can just cover half the softbox with some black fabric so I’ve meted this out, so it matches my camera. Let’s take a shot like this and see if it looks a little bit softer, There we go, so that works really nicely, much softer lighting on Sophie and that for a rim light, shot looks fantastic. Now if you’d like your rim of light to be a little bit tighter, the solution is really simple, you just move these lights closer together, but the downside of that is you run the risk of getting flare. Now for me, I think this is a nice combination of positioning, and no flare in my small, home studio so let’s take a few shots like this, and see what we can do Sophia, are you ready, here we go. Let’s just go for one hand, and gently, oh gentle stuff, Excellent. So that was the basic setup and it went really well, but I’d like to do something perhaps a little bit more challenging and the more challenging thing is that I’ve now given Sofie some bubbles.. yeah that’s a challenge that may not be obvious at first sight, but Sofie if you want to blow some bubbles. I’m gonna photograph it using the rim light technique, and we’ll see what we get okay, here we go. We can see that the the rim lighting on Sofie remains as good as it was before, but when I have a close look at the bubbles, the bubbles are rim lit nearly… there is a long stripe which is actually a reflection of the strip box, and it’s reflected on both sides of the bubble, because it’s translucent and a small spot, which is a reflection of the small light.. now what I want to do is actually get the entire bubble lit as one circular rim lit shot, and to do that I need something a little bit different to these two lights, so let’s make a change. So what I’ve done is I’ve swapped the hard light source behind Sofie for another soft light source, another strip box, let’s see if this fixes the problem and gives us that complete circle around the bubble, here we go, so looking at that, the answer is no, it didn’t work I can see the second strip box, it’s another double reflection, but it doesn’t complete the circle, it’s in the wrong place, so what I’ve done is I’ve taken the softbox, and put it above Sophie, so this is going to light the top and bottom of the bubble as well as the top of Sophie’s head. The other way I’ve moved slightly, put on a bit of an angle, it’s still going to give me that rim lit look, but it should fill in the other side of the bubbles. That’s the idea, and of course if we did this, we’d lose the back of Sophie’s head so I have a third light – that’s there just to put a bit of rim light around the back of Sophie, so basically what I made is an arch of light. That’s the idea, let’s even get some great bubbles going and see if this works. Okay here we go, so when I said it was going to be a challenge with bubbles, I actually thought that was just going to be a lighting challenge, but I was wrong, because we had the worst bubble fluid in the world, and Sophie really tried hard. I had a go Sam had a go, none of us could get good bubbles out of that stuff, so once Sophie had gone, I nipped out and got another tube of bubble fluid, and this one, well as you can see works an awful lot better, so I photographed just the bubbles in exactly the same lighting, and I’m going to show you how to add the bubbles in to my final picture. so here’s a picture of Sophie blowing her very best bubble and that’s good I can see the rim lighting it looks good, here’s the extra bubbles blown an hour or two later, and to add them in in Photoshop, I’m gonna get the lasso tool, I’m gonna draw very roughly around the bubbles I want, and I want that set of bubbles just there, I’ll choose edit and copy go back to my main picture choose edit again and paste, now that will paste the extra bubbles in and they kind of float around. I can put them pretty much anywhere because they’re on a separate layer when you paste, but look up close and you can clearly see it doesn’t quite work. I’ve lost a chunk of the original bubble so to blend these in, this is where having that black background absolutely pays off, because it couldn’t really be easier. All I do is I change the layer blending mode which is currently set to normal. Change it to screen, and anything pure black becomes completely transparent, and they can overlap interact, and I can put the bubbles well pretty much anywhere I want, and there you go, there is my final picture, complete with extra bubbles, Rim lighting is definitely something you can achieve in a small home studio, and although the strip boxes definitely helped with the bubble shot, if you’re after a basic rim lit shot, I could do that with just two bare lights. Now if you’ve got any questions, or you’ve enjoyed this video, leave me a comment below. Click on the bell icon to get regular notifications of all the brand new videos, right here on Adorama TV and of course click on their subscribe button, I’m Gavin Hoey thanks for watching.


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