This is a practice image. For this picture I wanted to start out and make a portrait on a light background that had the subject’s face emerging from shadow. So it’s half silhouette, half mysterious portrait. This is a pretty tricky thing to pull off, you have to have really strong light control in order to light the front of the face but not the rest of the head/ears/shoulders. And to add to that challenge, I wanted a vivid splash of colorful light coming in as an accent on the darker side of the face.
The way I solved this was to use a gridded stripbox for the front of the face, and then set up a gridded speedlight with two purplish gels camera right. Then it was just a matter of placing a gobo to keep the magenta light off the shoulder and ear, put a speedlight behind for the background, and it’s done.
This is one of those setups that is invaluable. You’re learning about how to control light and shadow on a subject, and how to put light exactly where you want, and not anywhere else in the frame. Using this same technique I could put a magenta accent highlight almost anywhere on a subject, highlighting whatever feature I want to highlight. It’s super controlled, so you definitely don’t want your subject moving around a lot, but once it (and they) are locked it the results can be spectacular.
When you’re just starting out as a photographer the first thing people do is start to throw a lot of light around in all directions. That’s a great place to begin, but as you progress as a technician you should always be looking for ways to refine your control over the light, deciding where it should go and what it should do. Tell the light what to do. Your images will be better for it.