Lighting

How do do backlight properly (7 replies and 2 comments)

Wouter
5 months ago
Wouter 5 months ago

Hi Roger and forum,

I was wondering, how do you judge the amount of light you bounce back onto the subject when the motive is to try and keep things looking natural; although you really need a good amount of light and directionality to help bring out the shapes of the face without it looking to obvious? Let's suppose we're outdoors, sunny backlight and no large bright objects in front of the subject that might "motivate" a bounce source.

Also considering catchlights that might give away bounce material etc...

Glad to hear some sensibilities.

GiacomoP
5 months ago
GiacomoP 5 months ago

I'm no Roger but I think this is a matter of how you want to approach the storytelling with your light, do i motivate this or i don't care that much? Personally i make things pretty and useful for the story as long it isn't too obvious, that is the main goal for me even if i need to maintain a naturalistic look. I was thinking maybe to bounce only the side of the subject face, or making a bounce "sandwich" leaving the central part of the face slightly underexposed, but then again it's a matter of story and message

Wouter
5 months ago
Wouter 5 months ago

Agreed on the story aspect of it; but I'm wondering in terms of very technical terms; how much stops could you lift a face to create a little bit more shape to the face without making the bounce obvious. Which material could be use, the size and proximity.

rlandry1
5 months ago

What is assumed to be under the subject?

Is it concrete? Grass? Wood? Metal?

I think this matters a good deal with how to interpret bounce light.

Also, is this "exterior" referring to a could-less midday sky? Or an overcast sky? Or is it morning/twilight/dusk?

simon m
5 months ago
simon m 5 months ago

Not Roger here but I think a big part of the fun of lighting is to experiment and see how it looks to you. We each have our own aesthetic. A large bounce board further away or a small piece of muslin draped over a piece of cardboard and placed close to the subject? I find that fun.

rlandry1
5 months ago

I agree. Also, "what is the tone of the scene?", might be a question you ask yourself. The same shot despite the time/conditions of the day might be totally different depending on the time of day. As an example a dark drama/thriller might film one shot completely differently than say, a comedy.

Wouter
5 months ago
Wouter 5 months ago

Yeah sure, you're right. But I can't seem to get it right! Or at least not the way I think I want it.

Roger Deakins
5 months ago
Roger Deakins 5 months ago

Practice!

zakaree
4 months ago
zakaree 4 months ago

I wouldnt worry about motivation for an exterior day light scene..

Wouter
3 months ago
Wouter 3 months ago

Why not? It all depends on what you're trying to achieve. In my case, I would have wanted a 3/4 backlight (sun) but also a front light to create shape to the face without it looking as a separate source.

Now that I come to think of it.. one solution might be to use a very large black surface next to frame for some negative fill.

Or a very, very large white surface, catching sunlight, bouncing it back if a little more "punch" is needed.

We're talking about cinematic images, not nature photography.

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