Backlighting Techniques Used in a Photography Studio

Written by david karanja
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Backlighting Techniques Used in a Photography Studio
Good use of light produces a good picture. (OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA image by louloute from

Backlighting refers to light in a photograph that comes from behind the image subject. Studios usually use this technique in various ways, manipulating the light source and intensity to produce the best picture possible. This technique can create shadows and other creative effects.

Benefits of Backlighting

Backlighting usually creates a dramatic effect on the photos. It generally produces soft portraits and can cover up skin blemishes wonderfully. Backlight can be used both as a primary and a secondary light. As a primary light, backlight can create impressive silhouette images. These are generally darker images with only the outline of the subject visible. Using the backlight as the secondary light can brighten up the background of a picture. This is done by shining the light dimly behind the person. If the dim light is brightened up it will sharpen the outline of the subject. This technique is used when the photographer wants to draw attention to the shape and physique of the subject.

Single Backlight

Using a single large light as a backlight creates a nice glowing edged silhouette picture of the subject. Reflectors are sometimes used to lightly illuminate the subject. Fill-in Flash is also used to illuminate the subject while using backlight as the only source of light. Fill-in flash is like a regular camera flash, except that its intensity can be controlled.

Using Background as a Backlight

Background is sometimes used as a single backlight. A small light pointed at a white background will cause it to glow. This glowing background causes the subject to appear as a dark silhouette in front of a white background. Such images create a moonlight effect.

Backlight as a Secondary Light

Backlight can be used as secondary light when the studio is well lit, but the photographer needs to add more light to create a specific effect on the final image.

Using a Designated Lens Hood

In many backlighting situations, using a designated lens hood will greatly improve the chances of eliminating flare by keeping stray light from striking the front element of the lens. The use of a good quality lens hood improves saturation in all images.

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