Rim Lighting For Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

Rim Lighting For Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I’ll show you how you can make rim lip portraits in your small home studio. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching Adorama TV, brought to you by Adorama the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers, and today I’m back in my small home studio and doing a rim lit portrait. Now for me rim lighting is a low-key effect, so that means a really dark background, the model separated from that background by a thin rim of light to achieve that look. Well there’s actually several ways we could do it, and I’m going to cover a couple of them in this video, so let’s get some light set, let’s get a model in and let’s get shooting. So to help me out today I’ve got the amazing Sophie. Sophie is going to be the model for this shoot, and there’s a couple of things I’ve set up already. The first one is a black background that’s going to help me get a nice clean dark dramatic looking background, but this only really works if Sophie is turned and facing towards me, because we need a profile picture. Now behind Sophie I’ve got a single flash, now I’ve positioned this so it’s right behind Sophie’s head. I’ve metered it out, so it matches my camera settings. Let’s take a shot okay, here we go and I’m trying to hide the light right behind Sophie, and get her evenly lit all the way across, but try as I might, I’m always gonna get brighter hair than I do around the front of her face, and it doesn’t quite look the way I’d like it to be, so to get a bit more light on to the front of Sophie’s face, I’m just gonna take the light from behind her, and just move it around to the side, so pointing it back at Sophie. In theory this should put more light on the front of Sophie’s face, but you can already imagine that there might be a slight downside to this one light setup, let’s try it. And it works really well on the front of Sophie, but of course we don’t see anything on the back of Sophie’s head, so to get around that what I’ve done is I’ve added a second light and its job is to put a little rim of light around the back of Sophie’s head… Now it’s set a little bit higher than the first light because I’d like it to do two jobs, the back and also slightly the top of Sophie’s head as well. Let’s see how this goes. Here we go, and that works really nicely. I’ve got some nice light on the back of Sophie, although looking at the front of Sophie, I would like the lighting to be a bit softer, it’s quite a harsh light because of course I’m using a small light source. So I can make the light softer really easily, by using a larger light source, now in this case I’m going to use this strip box 12 x 56 inch strip box, which is frankly a little bit too big for what I need, but it’ll do the job. If you don’t have a strip box it doesn’t matter, you can get the same look using a standard soft box. If you want that thin light look, you can just cover half the softbox with some black fabric so I’ve meted this out, so it matches my camera. Let’s take a shot like this and see if it looks a little bit softer, There we go, so that works really nicely, much softer lighting on Sophie and that for a rim light, shot looks fantastic. Now if you’d like your rim of light to be a little bit tighter, the solution is really simple, you just move these lights closer together, but the downside of that is you run the risk of getting flare. Now for me, I think this is a nice combination of positioning, and no flare in my small, home studio so let’s take a few shots like this, and see what we can do Sophia, are you ready, here we go. Let’s just go for one hand, and gently, oh gentle stuff, Excellent. So that was the basic setup and it went really well, but I’d like to do something perhaps a little bit more challenging and the more challenging thing is that I’ve now given Sofie some bubbles.. yeah that’s a challenge that may not be obvious at first sight, but Sofie if you want to blow some bubbles. I’m gonna photograph it using the rim light technique, and we’ll see what we get okay, here we go. We can see that the the rim lighting on Sofie remains as good as it was before, but when I have a close look at the bubbles, the bubbles are rim lit nearly… there is a long stripe which is actually a reflection of the strip box, and it’s reflected on both sides of the bubble, because it’s translucent and a small spot, which is a reflection of the small light.. now what I want to do is actually get the entire bubble lit as one circular rim lit shot, and to do that I need something a little bit different to these two lights, so let’s make a change. So what I’ve done is I’ve swapped the hard light source behind Sofie for another soft light source, another strip box, let’s see if this fixes the problem and gives us that complete circle around the bubble, here we go, so looking at that, the answer is no, it didn’t work I can see the second strip box, it’s another double reflection, but it doesn’t complete the circle, it’s in the wrong place, so what I’ve done is I’ve taken the softbox, and put it above Sophie, so this is going to light the top and bottom of the bubble as well as the top of Sophie’s head. The other way I’ve moved slightly, put on a bit of an angle, it’s still going to give me that rim lit look, but it should fill in the other side of the bubbles. That’s the idea, and of course if we did this, we’d lose the back of Sophie’s head so I have a third light – that’s there just to put a bit of rim light around the back of Sophie, so basically what I made is an arch of light. That’s the idea, let’s even get some great bubbles going and see if this works. Okay here we go, so when I said it was going to be a challenge with bubbles, I actually thought that was just going to be a lighting challenge, but I was wrong, because we had the worst bubble fluid in the world, and Sophie really tried hard. I had a go Sam had a go, none of us could get good bubbles out of that stuff, so once Sophie had gone, I nipped out and got another tube of bubble fluid, and this one, well as you can see works an awful lot better, so I photographed just the bubbles in exactly the same lighting, and I’m going to show you how to add the bubbles in to my final picture. so here’s a picture of Sophie blowing her very best bubble and that’s good I can see the rim lighting it looks good, here’s the extra bubbles blown an hour or two later, and to add them in in Photoshop, I’m gonna get the lasso tool, I’m gonna draw very roughly around the bubbles I want, and I want that set of bubbles just there, I’ll choose edit and copy go back to my main picture choose edit again and paste, now that will paste the extra bubbles in and they kind of float around. I can put them pretty much anywhere because they’re on a separate layer when you paste, but look up close and you can clearly see it doesn’t quite work. I’ve lost a chunk of the original bubble so to blend these in, this is where having that black background absolutely pays off, because it couldn’t really be easier. All I do is I change the layer blending mode which is currently set to normal. Change it to screen, and anything pure black becomes completely transparent, and they can overlap interact, and I can put the bubbles well pretty much anywhere I want, and there you go, there is my final picture, complete with extra bubbles, Rim lighting is definitely something you can achieve in a small home studio, and although the strip boxes definitely helped with the bubble shot, if you’re after a basic rim lit shot, I could do that with just two bare lights. Now if you’ve got any questions, or you’ve enjoyed this video, leave me a comment below. Click on the bell icon to get regular notifications of all the brand new videos, right here on Adorama TV and of course click on their subscribe button, I’m Gavin Hoey thanks for watching.

100 Comments

  • OneEyedPhotographer

    December 6, 2019

    I was thinking….

    With the right lighting, you should get some diffraction going into the bubbles and get some rainbow colours.

    Reply
  • khairotta

    December 6, 2019

    Man, you are the best

    Reply
  • Mike Whitehouse

    December 6, 2019

    Thank you – well done!

    Reply
  • thegougy

    December 6, 2019

    I have never subscribed that fast ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you!

    Reply
  • Saske Lee

    December 6, 2019

    please share a link to that background

    Reply
  • Rolling Rims

    December 6, 2019

    this video is full of nonsense. helpful though

    Reply
  • Le Harj

    December 6, 2019

    Gavin Hoey video = Liked before even viewing.

    Reply
  • David Rios

    December 6, 2019

    Gavin, you are the greatest photography teacher.

    Reply
  • shaolin95

    December 6, 2019

    dont change the "in this video" style, it is your thing! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply
  • chilecayenne

    December 6, 2019

    Another GREAT informative video.
    I"m wondering, if you didn't have a 3rd light, could you have maybe placed a reflector or two on a stand below and/or above the bubble area to complete the rim light on the bubbles?

    Reply
  • wa7sca

    December 6, 2019

    A delightful idea! Thank you for the "how to do it."

    Reply
  • patprop74

    December 6, 2019

    Whooooohoooo Gavin, 12 seconds in the video and I already wish I could like more than once.

    Reply
  • lia kara

    December 7, 2019

    excellent video! thank you

    Reply
  • Sportserjeff

    December 7, 2019

    Loved it but even though you didn't get great bubbles Sophie looked as though she was having a good time trying!

    Reply
  • Annie Glendinning

    December 7, 2019

    Absolutely love your work Gavin! I'm still learning but you give me inspiration that I will be able to!

    Reply
  • Jamie Bradshaw

    December 7, 2019

    I was sick las week and I found your videos. I have absolutely consumed them and have leaned a ton! Thank you for sharing the information!

    Reply
  • David Williss

    December 7, 2019

    Aaaah! That music at about 4 minutes is the "hold" music that I get every morning at work while waiting for a conference call. Great tutorial though.

    Reply
  • Alai Na

    December 7, 2019

    I always enjoy Gavin's videos – informational and easy to understand. Thank you and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • Kirsty Hepworth

    December 7, 2019

    wow amazing Video ๐Ÿ“น

    Reply
  • Paul Bell

    December 7, 2019

    Enjoyed this Gavin, gonna have to give it a try with my daughter. Great stuff ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Reply
  • Veselin Vasilev

    December 7, 2019

    Thank You!

    Reply
  • Krishna Kumar

    December 7, 2019

    Very nice bro ๐Ÿ‘Œ ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ

    Reply
  • Ivona Humpalot

    December 7, 2019

    Gavin 4 president!!!

    Reply
  • MT create

    December 7, 2019

    very nice๏ฝž

    Reply
  • Marc Synwoldt

    December 7, 2019

    Super-enjoyable, and quite instructive too.

    Reply
  • World of Paintings

    December 7, 2019

    How difficult is this with the continuous lighting?

    Reply
  • Carl Kristensen

    December 7, 2019

    Gavin Hoey, You are a lighting wizard – a shame I can only give you 1 like. I would have given 10.

    Reply
  • Kurt Smith

    December 8, 2019

    First time watching one of your tutorials, and I will be sure to stay tuned!! Great video Sir.

    Reply
  • Paul Sauriol

    December 8, 2019

    Awesome tutorial. I always look forward to your tutorials. Just wondering what the lighting ratios were for the strobes?

    Reply
  • joecrafted

    December 8, 2019

    Gavin makes a video, I watch. Always learn something, love how he walks through the problem solving. Thanks Gavin and Adorama. Great model!

    Reply
  • seeker

    December 8, 2019

    lovely,

    Reply
  • Robert A Wallace

    December 8, 2019

    Nice one

    Reply
  • MiggyVision

    December 9, 2019

    Great video!!

    Reply
  • hangebicom

    December 9, 2019

    Thanks Gavin for another interesting video, but please, start using less-than-perfect models, more real life people – not everyone has so nice proportions and looks as your models do, so when they'll get bad picture, they will blame model, not themselves, so please show people, how not so good people can have a great photos. Thanks.

    Reply
  • Gary Hurdman

    December 9, 2019

    Well, I wasn't expecting a bubble fluid tip. Bonus.

    Reply
  • Shu Lam

    December 9, 2019

    Hi Gavin, thank you so much for showing this technique. I am wondering if this could be done with constant lights instead of flashes?

    Reply
  • VANESSA ROBERTSON

    December 9, 2019

    Lovely love the bubbles

    Reply
  • GKOALA7

    December 9, 2019

    Sophie looks like Joe Wilson Karev from Grey's Anatomy.

    Reply
  • Marc Labro

    December 9, 2019

    super !

    Reply
  • brian killoran

    December 9, 2019

    once again Gavin… job well done!

    Reply
  • Richard Griffiths

    December 9, 2019

    Nice one Gavlar ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • Terrell Stewart

    December 10, 2019

    Great job and the more I photograph the more i realize that it's all about light.

    Reply
  • Prabhakar Rao

    December 10, 2019

    Excellent tutorial Gavin. Many thanks

    Reply
  • Andy Work

    December 10, 2019

    I've been getting decent results with rim lighting but your tips will help me do better. Thanks!

    Reply
  • djlive408

    December 10, 2019

    Where can I buy that black backdrop?

    Reply
  • atouk alunda lana

    December 10, 2019

    Nice

    Reply
  • Stoopid shots

    December 11, 2019

    What was the use of the black background behind Soffie?

    Reply
  • Sanjay Saxena

    December 11, 2019

    One of the best mentor on youtube..Thanks a ton for the explanation.

    Reply
  • Eric Pohner

    December 11, 2019

    Love your hack to make a thin light source from a large soft box! Thanks!!!

    Reply
  • Pierre Morin

    December 12, 2019

    Gavin is certainly one of the best on Youtube, if not the best ๐Ÿ˜Š. Iโ€™ve looked all his videos. Adorama should also get another super photo teacher, get Richard Tatti onboard. He is as good as Gavin, but he does astrophotography. Go check him @nightscapeimage

    Reply
  • mahendra K pandya

    December 12, 2019

    Naic topic

    Reply
  • Mike Angelo

    December 12, 2019

    Gavin you are awesome!!!!!

    Reply
  • Tim Wells

    December 12, 2019

    Thanks Gavin. That tip on covering half a regular softbox to get a striplight was gold. Can't believe I hadn't thought of it before. Those shots would look great in B&W as well.

    Reply
  • Michel Fourkas

    December 12, 2019

    Thank you so much Gavin, your are wonderful !

    Reply
  • Owais Khan

    December 12, 2019

    Very good work

    Reply
  • BrainSlug 3000

    December 12, 2019

    For whatever reason no one ever seems to mention their flashpower settings (if any). Are you just running this on TTL or are your setting it Manual to 1:1 power?

    Reply
  • Cristiane Bregge

    December 13, 2019

    Thank you so much. I was looking for this technique and boom! you appeared!

    Reply
  • karayuschij

    December 13, 2019

    Nice

    Reply
  • Crush Fotoz

    December 13, 2019

    i have just one light setup, can a reflector the job as a second light?

    Reply
  • Brian Spurr

    December 13, 2019

    Great shots!

    Reply
  • Prabhu Karan

    December 14, 2019

    super

    Reply
  • joluperna

    December 14, 2019

    Magnรญfico tutorial! Excelentes fotografรญas!! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜

    Reply
  • ifoundthistoday

    December 14, 2019

    I just want to know how you get a dark front when there's light in the room

    Reply
  • Nikki Batts

    December 14, 2019

    so this can be achieved with 2 bare lights (not flash)? Is there a video?

    Reply
  • abhijit chendvankar

    December 14, 2019

    That was fun. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Eslam Alahmadi

    December 15, 2019

    Thanks Gavin

    Reply
  • Julie Menken

    December 15, 2019

    Hi can you accomplish this with two softlighters instead of strip boxes?

    Reply
  • Kev Agz

    December 15, 2019

    Great video! Can this be achieved with one light source with a softbox by the front, and a reflector in the back?

    Reply
  • Mecal00

    December 16, 2019

    ohhhh shit, I remember watching Gavin back in the day (2011) – cool to see he's still doing tutorials ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • K P

    December 16, 2019

    beautiful girl <3

    Reply
  • Iain Blacklock

    December 16, 2019

    Nice one Gavin, as always.

    Reply
  • Stephen Large

    December 16, 2019

    Another great video. Tried this out at Wednesfield Photography club tonight, was a lot of fun.

    Reply
  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    December 17, 2019

    Very good

    Reply
  • Matthew Henry

    December 17, 2019

    Disappointed with you Gavin. @4:28 you totally missed the opportunity to say โ€˜at first lightโ€™ ๐Ÿ˜œ. Great video as always

    Reply
  • PD

    December 18, 2019

    As the bubble lighting became better – Sophie's bubble making skills deteriorated ๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply
  • FOTOMANIA TOP

    December 18, 2019

    cool man

    Reply
  • m.arslan khan

    December 19, 2019

    amazing work N ur style of teaching superb..

    Reply
  • Thejus Valsan

    December 20, 2019

    Thanks Gavin. May be my vocab is limited. But I would like to use something more than "Amazing" or "Awesome" to describe your entire approach. Your knowledge of light is fabulous. In fact entire Adorama team of photographers are awesome and need big round of applauds. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • Celina Lam

    December 25, 2019

    What were the flash power?

    Reply
  • Alejandro Goiz Uribe

    December 26, 2019

    Loved this one tutorial. Will try it out soon.

    Reply
  • castiel vargas

    December 27, 2019

    Great video! Its nice to see you using my beloved 12-40 pro lense

    Reply
  • Sabyasachi Chatterjee

    December 29, 2019

    Thanks! It's an Excellent & a very simple idea!

    Reply
  • Cutz by kali

    December 30, 2019

    So thereโ€™s 3 lights being used

    Reply
  • Rob H

    December 31, 2019

    I started watching and I thought the video was on 1.5x playback. Then I realized it's just Gavin.

    Reply
  • Chad Toth

    January 1, 2020

    This is great I'm going to try it!

    Reply
  • Brad MacMillan

    January 1, 2020

    Hey Gavin, first off, great video. Thank you for constantly putting these out, along with the rest of the hosts. They're always helpful and entertaining!
    Using a speedlight on either side with a grid, would this achieve similar results with a bit of a harder light? I'm looking to try it soon, once I have my model here.

    Reply
  • Bobby Khondker

    January 3, 2020

    You are one "crazy" good photographer and coach! Your models have fun, I have fun, seems you do too. I cannot stress enough how much I enjoy your videos – what more can I ask? Thanks Gavin!

    Reply
  • 4n6design

    January 3, 2020

    Gavin the master!

    Reply
  • Karl Wesneski

    January 7, 2020

    Lighten mode would work too

    Reply
  • rajesh potinde

    January 7, 2020

    Nice sir best person to teach a photography its you

    Reply
  • Veronika Gant

    January 8, 2020

    I love it! ๐Ÿ™‚ And I don't know why I am smiling when I am looking at your video. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply
  • Learning To Ride

    January 9, 2020

    add glycerin to bubble mix to make them last longer

    Reply
  • Diam

    January 10, 2020

    I seriously need to buy a black background.

    Reply
  • Diam

    January 10, 2020

    Idc how old you are when you blow a good bubble it brings you joy lol

    Reply
  • jilan shah

    January 10, 2020

    Nice learning๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply
  • John Skiggs

    January 10, 2020

    Thank you Sophy ๐Ÿ™‚ Lotsa-patience ๐Ÿ™‚ and Gavin again thank you I learned heaps. I work with students and bodybuilders so rim lighting is important… Also important > the photoshop trick of > +layer-Blending-mode-from normal to-screen = Seriously Useful….. Long-time subscriber here but at last I remembered to hit that little bell so I get advices of all new Vids – again thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • Steph Mattioli

    January 10, 2020

    Omg, you are amazing, your teaching way is the best! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • ARbull

    January 10, 2020

    WHAT ARE YOUR SETTINGS; CAMERA

    Reply
  • bong kem

    January 12, 2020

    awesome as usual ! Thanks Gavin, your "Take and make" series are great !!

    Reply
  • Von Potatostein

    January 13, 2020

    I have been watching Gavin since he started way back then, he hasn't lost any of his spark and how innovative, creative, informative and resourceful he is!!! Thanks Adorama and Gavin! Best combo ever!!!

    Reply

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