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Using a Softbox as a High Key Background + Rim Lights - Video

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In today’s Photo Deconstruction I break down an image that incorporates gels and a softbox as a high key background.

For this particular setup, what’s interesting is not just the modifiers I used or color gels I chose, but the very unusual way I gelled the background light to give me a high key result and also colorful rim lights on the subject.

  • There are 3 lights total as you can see from the BTS image at :059

Two main lights on each side of the subject and one softbox behind the subject. All of the lights in the setup have a gel on them, yet the background light is pure white, so how do we do this?

Since you can see that the model has a teal rim light on her, I placed that gel in the softbox and overexposed so that it just had enough color to create a rim light but also blow out the background so it appeared to be white. 

I like using this technique sometimes because it can take the place of at least 3-4 strobes by just placing your subject's back against a softbox. (Basically you're replacing 1-2 lights for the background and at least 2 lights for rims doing it this way).

  • Post processing

You can see the straight out of camera shot RAW with zero processing here: 3:53 

Straight out of camera the image isn’t as high contrast of course and the background does have that bit of teal to it, but we can fix that. Not with Photoshop mind you, but by adjusting the contrast. I wound up increasing the clarity and contrast, popped the whites in CaptureOne and you can see that result here: 4:45.

But…. We’re not done yet. I did take things a bit further and do some additional retouching to make the image a bit cleaner. I liquified the model's shoulders to create longer neck line and make her appear a bit more elegant as well as cleaned up a few other areas.   

So there we have it, a relatively simple 3 light technique with a twist using a softbox as both rim lights and high key background. I challenge you to think outside the box with your color gel photography and try it out!


Edited by Martin Vronsky
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