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Tips & Tricks

How To Use Light To Separate Your Subject From The Background

By Wendell Weithers on April 21st 2017

Understanding the effect lighting on your subject opens up a wide range of possibilities for your photography. You can accomplish a lot with one just light, but this is a scenario where more is actually…more. With more lights, you increase your options for controlling the look of your image. A great free resource on understanding lighting is the series of videos from J.P. Morgan and folks over at the Slanted Lens. In their latest video, the breakdown how to use light to create separation; let’s take a look.

1 Light Setup

With a one light setup, you create separation by lighting both your subject and the background. The single light creates nice highlights and shadows on your subject and background that contrast one another nicely. However, with only one light, you have to keep your back drop close to your subject.

If you’d like to catch up on the previous videos in this series you can find it here.

[REWIND:] The Relationship Between Shutter Speed & Flash Is Critical | Remember This Lighting Mantra

2 Light Setup

With a two light setup you can create the same looks you did with one light. However, you are able to put distance between your subject and the background. Dedicating a light to both the background and your subject gives you the flexibility to adjust the lighting on each separately.

Rim Lighting

Rim lighting is a common method of adding a dynamic element to your subject. It highlights your subject’s hair and outlines of their body, making them stand out from the background.

Color

Adding color to your background adds depth to your image because your eyes will drawn to the natural color it sees. Of course there is nothing stopping you from using all of these techniques together and doing gives you the most options for creative images.


If you’d like to catch up on the previous videos in this series you can find it here.

[REWIND:] The Relationship Between Shutter Speed & Flash Is Critical | Remember This Lighting Mantra

Terms: #Hair Light

Wendell is a business owner and contractor at Chick-fil-A coporate in Atlanta. When he isn’t shooting portraits and documenting important moments, he is shooting his wife’s work in their home cake studio in East Point, GA.

Instagram: Wendellwphoto

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