Backlighting is magic. Whether you find it or make it, using a light behind your subject creates dimension and can lend an ethereal feeling. What’s more, it can be accomplished with a single light. That could be the sun, or in the studio, a strobe. AdoramaTV will show you the way, led by NYC photographer Daniel Norton.
In a short-and-sweet video, Norton shows viewers a super simple, one light setup. Using a Profoto B1X and what basically amounts to a V-flat fort, he creates a look that uses a little flare and bounced light to make a glowing, backlit portrait in-studio.
The subject is placed within black V-flat “walls” with the B1x set behind her and to camera-right. Norton then adds plain, inexpensive whiteboards by clamping them to the V-flats. These boards bounce the flash that is behind the subject back onto her face, filling the shadows with a soft light.
If you don’t happen to have a fort’s worth of V-flats on hand, you could try something like Westcott’s Omega reflector, which is a reflector with a removable center cutout that you shoot through. The Omega reflector or similar also offers a simple way to take this look outdoors.
To get this look outside, on a sunny day when the sun is fairly low in the sky, place your subject with the sun behind them in the approximate location that Norton has placed his strobe. Then, use a reflector to bounce light onto your subject’s face. Simple!
Check out the video below to see Norton demonstrate this technique.