Adding a backlight for a more dramatic portrait

I always love to get some dramatic photos of the groom and/or groomsmen before the wedding. If I can use lighting to add some drama to the photo then I’m all for it and many times will setup a very quick 2 or 3 light setup with my flashes to get a cool shot of the guys. For a wedding awhile back the guys were getting ready in a huge room lined with wine barrels. It was a really cool background and originally I was going to light it with just 1 flash my 580ex. The flash was set to ETTL and triggered with a Pocketwizard. I set the camera to 1/20th of a second to get a little ambient light and had the aperture set to f/2.8. Here is what just using 1 flash set to the side of the camera looked like:

1 light strobist

Then I decided to add just 1 more light to the image and place a Vivitar 285 flash to the background and have a little fun. The light was set to manual and low power. I pointed the light back towards the camera and right at the edge of the subject. Since the light just barely hit the lens of the camera you get a pretty interesting bit of flare and a cool halo around the right edge of the subject. The main flash was still set to ETTL.

2 light setup for a backlit portrait

This was straight out of the camera without any adjustments so to add a bit of a retro flare to get the feel I was going for with one of our Lightroom presets from the Essential Wedding collection.

091512_637-2

Pretty straightforward lighting setup, if you have any questions just let me know below.

If you want to see my list of lighting gear that I normally bring to a wedding check out this post:
What Lighting I bring to a wedding

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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