Friday, April 10, 2009

conquering the back light

Backlighting is such a nightmare for some photographers but for me, I always find it a challenge and a new experience to harness the light coming from the back of your subject. I had a shoot stretching late in the afternoon and I specifically waited for the golden hours of 4pm and up when the light is at its softest when I positioned my model in the right place. With just enough edge light on the facial contours, the nose and shoulder, I brought out a softbox with SB-800 and attached it to a light stand to fill in some light and tame the backlight. The results are the sample photos

With the sun serving as the key light, being the stronger light source, there is a need to provide for a fill in light to achieve this kind of images. Where to place the SB-800 with soft box to provide for a fill-in light is critical in these situations. On these sample photos, I placed it on the left side forty five degrees away and in front of the model. Placing it on the right side would flatten out the light and would not make your image as edgy as the ones in the sample.

This kind of set-up will likewise give you that elusive Rembrandt light with the sunshine as your main light. For a review of these terms, Rembrandt effect is a high contrast lighting scheme and is achieved by placing the main light at a high angle to your subject's face. The Rembrandt effect is characterized by a triangular light underneath the subject's eye. It also allows the nose shadow to blend in with the shadow on the dark side of the face.

With the sun directly shining at an angle above the model's back, a stray of light will produce the triangular light below the eye of the model with the high bridged nose carving the shadow on the left cheek forming a triangular high contrast light.

The last two photos also showed some edge light on the arms and face of the model creating an edgy effect which for me is a very pleasing effect - a combination of highlights and soft shadows.

For modelling credits, many thanks to Maya Vasayllaje, a former Palmolive Circle of 10 model.

Equipment used: Nikon D300 fitted with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF, SB-800 Speedlight with Falcon Eyes soft box

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