Today, we’re gonna light it like Nashville-based photographer Jeff Carpenter and model, Caroline. Let’s step into Jeff’s studio as he crafts a high contrast, split background portrait with sci-fi vibes and a three-light setup.
To create a split backdrop going from black to white, he used a five-foot octabox with a black V-Flat covering the front half of the octa. A gridded beauty dish provided the key light to camera left “creating either split light or Rembrandt lighting depending on where her face is.”
If you’re new to lighting: the key light is the main light for the scene. In today’s example, it’s the gridded beauty dish lighting Caroline’s face and shirt. Grids are basically fancy flags for your softbox. In this lighting setup, Jeff is using the grid to direct the light toward Caroline and keep it from spilling onto the black backdrop behind her.
After testing the scene with just the five-foot background octa and the beauty dish, a third light was needed to pop Caroline’s right side off the dark backdrop. Outfitted in a black, long-sleeved shirt, her right side blended into the shadows of the black V-Flat behind her.
To separate Caroline’s dark shirt from the dark backdrop, Jeff brought in a three-foot octabox to camera left, behind the beauty dish. (Normally, he’d use a strip box, but went with an octa since it was already set up from a previous shoot.) Because the three-foot octa didn’t have a grid, Jeff feathered it away from the background and toward Caroline, enabling him to keep the black part of the background dark and the overall portrait high contrast. Feathering is simply turning the entire light modifier away from the area you don’t want lit.
Also known as rim lighting, this second octa added just the right amount of light to outline Caroline’s right arm and shoulder, further defining her form and popping it off from the dark backdrop.
Gear and Settings
Camera: Panasonic DC-S1
Lens: Lumix S 24-105mm F/4
Focal Length: 84mm
Photographer: Jeff Carpenter, https://www.readylightmedia.com/
Wanna Learn More?
We’ve got over a 100 videos on our Behind The Scenes page with tips and tricks for photographers and videographers of all genres.
Learn how to harness the power of light and more.