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21 Apr 2024

Rim Light

Term: Rim Light
Description: A rim light is a photography technique used to define the edges of a subject by using back or side lighting. This helps to separate the subject from its background and can result in some very dramatic imagery. It adds depth by creating distinct highlights that accentuate the outline of the figure, making them stand out against the rest of the scene. Opposed to flat lighting which illuminates both sides equally and has no shadows, rim lighting achieves dimensionality by utilizing shadows which creates an interesting pattern along the edge of objects. By adding a rim light to your images you get a greater sense of depth and visual interest, so if you are looking for creative and impactful photography this could be an effective technique for achieving that goal.

Example – Bounce Flash With Rim Lighting

Of the choices given thus far for lighting first and family dances, using a bounce flash with rims is the least ideal, but it will still get the job done. This setup only takes two to three minutes and requires two light stands, but it can not be used in any scene/location. A bright neutral ceiling is needed so that the light has something to bounce off of.

More often than not, when bouncing light, you’ll need to set your flash to ¼-⅛ power. Here are some key tips for using this style of lighting:

  1. Place OCF rims evenly (distance/height)
  2. OCF rims should be set to equal power and zoom
  3. When moving, toggle off unwanted lights
  4. On-camera battery pack will shorten the recycle time between flashes

Note: If spot lighting includes a strong color (such as using a magenta gel, for example), you’ll need to override the coloring with a stronger power setting on your on-camera flash.

You can also turn the on-camera flash off and use only the two rim lights to capture moodier images, but timing and positioning becoming very important for capturing deliverable images. Beware of the subjects’ angle (facing the camera, for example), or else the light that falls across their faces may be split and less flattering. This is a go-to in situations when the batteries run out of power in the on-camera flash.

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