Creating two different photos using the same lighting set-up

f/5.6, shutter 1/100, ISO 125

f/5.6, shutter 1/100, ISO 125

Last week, I shared two silhouette images on Facebook and I actually photographed these using the same lighting technique. For this blog post, I will briefly show you what I used to get these images and how changing just a few things can make two similar images look completely different. 

    This first image image (of my beautiful wife) was shot using one-flash around 45 degrees behind her on the left side. In front of the flash, I used a white photo umbrella, which diffuses the light, and helps soften the skin on the face. The background was the curtains over our back patio door, lit with the last hour of sunlight left. The choice to use a subtle background was to help bring more of a story element into the photo.

Fun tip: It's possible to get the same look by just using light from your window. Windows act like soft boxes and umbrellas where they soften light passing through it.  Just keep in mind that for this, it's all about how much light and the direction of light in relation to your subject. Depending on how dramatic of a silhouette you want, you might need to use black boards to help absorb and direct the window light.

f/5.6, shutter 1/100, ISO 100

f/5.6, shutter 1/100, ISO 100

The second image is of my adorable dog, Lacie,   which was shot using the same light source 45 degrees behind her. Though, there were three differences between how the two photos were taken. First, I didn't use any lighting modifiers; no umbrellas or soft boxes. I did this because I wanted a more direct, harsher light to bring out the detail in her fur and to create a harsher silhouette line. The second thing is a pure black background which will help isolate the subject. The third is something off camera. Because Lacie is all white and white reflects light, I placed two black boards around her to help focus the lights direction and limit the reflection off of her.

Do you see a difference, and if so what do you see? I want to know what you, the viewer sees. Let me know other lighting techniques you love to use for portraits in the comments below! 

A rough lighting diagram of the two set-ups.

A rough lighting diagram of the two set-ups.