How to place your Softbox for the Rim Light effect

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: February 6, 2016

Category: General

Now I did intend to have a new video for you; a video showing you some of the retouching that went into my recent Blizzard picture. However, it’s been a busy couple of days I’ve not managed to get it done just yet but I assure you, it will be recorded this weekend and ready to view first thing on Monday so definitely keep an eye out of that.

Today though, I thought I’d add a quick post showing you how you do the Rim Lighting effect; a lighting pattern that I use quite a lot on subjects particularly those low-key portraits and especially when photographing physiques to paint light around all the contours.

Now I’ve included three lighting diagrams below to show you how you would roughly position the modifier but the photograph below shows you the kind of thing I’m on about…


Position ‘A’
In the first diagram, you can see that the modifier is straight on towards the subject. You can see the position of myself, the subject has his face side on to me but the modifier is pushing all of the light on to them which in turn will throw an equal amount of light on both sides of the face…not what we want.


Position ‘B’
In this second diagram, we’ve moved the modifier but this time, it’s the wrong side of our subject. From my camera shooting position, the majority of the light would be hitting the camera side of the face…not what we want.


Position ‘C’
In this 3rd diagram we can see exactly where the light would need to be; on the opposite side of the subject to where the camera is. This way, all the light that is going to be hitting the side of the face not seen by the camera and so we only get rim lighting around the shape of the face.

We can now simply control how much light hits the camera side of the face by just moving that light source backwards and forwards (towards or away from camera position) and just a small amount each time. In fact it is just a small amount that can really make a HUGE difference. To get more control you could also use a grid; this is especially good if you’re in a very tight, confined area where’s there’s possible problems with light bouncing off nearby walls/objects.


One thing I also always do, what I actually do is meter the light. If I’m shooting the subject at around about say f/5.6 to f/8.0, when I move the light to get this Rim Lighting effect, we’re only getting a small amount of that light hitting the face…the feathered edge and you may find that the rim light is just a little bit underexposed because of it. So, once you’ve got the position correct, just boost the power of that light a little bit to make that rim light a little bit more defined.


So that’s it. I just thought it would be handy with a few lighting diagrams to give you an idea where I position the light because I do often always get asked how I do not just the black background effect but also how we produce that Rim Lighting effect.

That’s all for today, have a fantastic weekend and don’t forget to check in on Monday for the brand new video that will be here on my blog and on my  Youtube channel. Oh and also, that there’s an EXCLUSIVE coming from those of you who are newsletter subscribers; as well as getting the FREE Tip Sheets each month you’ll also now be getting access to the files that relate to each of the videos. This way you’ll be able to download the files so that you can not only watch the tutorials but you can actually follow along with the exact same file that I use. This is most definitely the best way to learn…doing it rather than just watching it.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you Monday,

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