Rim light­ing for por­traits

Digital Camera World - - PHOTO ACTIVE -

I don’t have a flash­gun, so how do I get that lovely rim light­ing ef­fect in por­traits? Gale Dun­lop You’ll be de­lighted to know that flash light­ing isn’t nec­es­sar­ily needed if you want to get this look: you just need some de­cent, di­rec­tional sun­light to work with. And you are right; it does look fab­u­lous when it all comes to­gether.

Low light in the early morn­ing or late evening tends to work best: as the sun gets higher, the nat­u­ral light spreads and your model is more top-lit. With low di­rec­tional light you can eas­ily po­si­tion your model be­tween your­self and the sun, and its ef­fect should be ob­vi­ous as that halo ef­fect ap­pears around the edges of the body.

How­ever, there are some things that you need to take into ac­count. While the rim light­ing ef­fect can make your sub­ject stand out from the back­ground, that will only hap­pen if the back­ground is darker. That doesn’t mean it has to be black, but you want some shadow ar­eas be­hind your sub­ject to ac­cen­tu­ate the back­light­ing.

As a gen­eral rule, I’d sug­gest that you use a tele­photo lens to sim­plify com­po­si­tion and help sep­a­rate the sub­ject from the back­ground – and al­ways pop the lens hood on. Even if you are not shoot­ing di­rectly into the sun, with­out a lens hood, you might find that your im­age lacks con­trast be­cause of the im­pact of un­wanted lens flare.

You will also need to dial in some ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion, be­cause the bright light be­hind the sub­ject could fool the cam­era’s me­ter. I usu­ally start with +1 ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion and ei­ther re­duce or in­crease that when I’ve been able to as­sess the first cou­ple of im­ages us­ing the rear dis­play’s pre­view and his­togram.

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