Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II - CAMERA
70 mm - LENS
F 13 -F-STOP
1/250 sec -SHUTTER SPEED
100 -FILM SPEED
Flash - LIGHT SOURCE
This type of lighting technique is more commonly seen in still life lighting, the even light that wraps around an object is perfect for giving darker shiny objects that extra ‘pop’ when shot against a dark background. This can be seen clearly here on the image of the model with the guitar and on the still life shot of the metal bodied camera.
This lighting technique is actually very easy to achieve even with just one light. The trick is to use a large light source (larger than your subject at least), here I used a large soft-box but a large window could have the same effect, and block out the middle area of light. This blocked out area will effectively be your background for the shot. For mine I hung a large piece of black velvet in front of my soft-box but a large black card would also do the same. I like to use black velvet because of its deep texture it reflects very little light and should be part of every photographers kit. It will come in handy on many occasions on set and I use it as a backdrops or for flagging light.
What you are trying to achieve by blocking out most of the light is a narrow strip of light all the way around your subject, varying the size of this strip will vary the results so its worth experimenting with it. What this does is to light just the edges of the subject which really makes them stand out from the darker background.
Considering that this image is pretty much shot with just one light, you can quickly and easily get some great results. The secondary light you see being used here is really just adding some shine to the guitar and therefore turned down very low and thanks to the barn-doors not affecting the model. Shooting this shot with one light effectively though means that you will need to bounce some of that light back into the shot. Here I used a white bounce board but a simple white sheet would have the same effect. By moving that white bounce board closer to the model I was able to brighten the model and conversely by moving it further away I was able to darken the model. Again playing with this will offer different looks so its a good idea to try a couple of different distances.
Both of the photographs of the model and the camera were shot using the same lighting technique even though they are made of very different materials and very different sizes. The shot of the model shows clear edge lighting on both the shiny guitar and on the models skin and a good tip when trying to get strong edge lighting on naturally non-shiny objects like skin is to apply a small amount of oil or other liquid. This will allow the skin to catch the light and give you some strong spectral highlights (a direct reflection of the light that is behind) and it also helps to enhance any colours and contrast in tattoos.
In the picture of the camera the same technique picks up on the naturally shiny metal casing making it clearly stand out from the background. This is one of the reasons it's a very popular still life lighting technique because it means the product is very easy to remove from the background and place it in a composite scene afterwards.
I hope I’ve given you a few new ideas to try next time you want to shoot something different. Let me know your thoughts on this article by commenting below or reaching out to me on my Facebook page I do my best to respond to all questions and comments.