Lighting 101: Back Light as Main Light

Abstract: Sometimes the best place to aim your light is right back at your camera.

When you are deciding how you are going to add light to a scene, don't forget to consider the idea of adding only back light.

And try not to think of it as such. Learn to think "separation" light.

Those of us in the newspaper biz need all of the help we can get when it comes to repro. And using a separation light can really make a photo pop.

Additionally, if the light is strong it will create shadows that will create leading lines into the direction of your light source.

One caveat is that you have to hide your light from your camera. As mentioned before, one good techniques (especially in a darkened room) is to mount the flash backwards and turn the head around. This will let you use the recycle light as a guide to help keep some item in your frame between you and your flash.

The shadows should tell you which performer I am using as a GoBo to block my flash. It's the guy in the middle. In the photo below, the hidden flash's location (behind the guy) is revealed by a red dot. You can also see that the shadows always point to the flash:

One other thing you should notice with this photo. This small, shoe-mount flash is about a hundred feet away from the kids rehearsing their end-of-show theatrical bow.

These little strobes put out a lot more power than you might think, especially when working in low light conditions. As you get a little experience with your lighting, you will become less and less afraid of the dark. The dark is your friend. It is full sunlight that is hard to compete against with small flashes.

Next: Lighting 101: Headshot in a Corner


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