Useful Photography Tip #145: Creating Wrap Around Light With One Light Source

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer New York Comic Con 2012 Photos (6 of 33)ISO 200

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

Wrap around light: what this means is light that literally wraps around a subject and gives the illusion of two lights. Traditionally, photographers needed two or more lights to do it, but the effect can be created in camera with one light.

There are two components to this: One massive light modifier in relation to the subject and and one light.

First off, face your subject and place the light (inside the light modifier) in front of your subject and slightly above the camera. Angle the light modifier to be flat against the subject though you can also place it a bit higher and angled downward a bit.

How big of a modifier are we talking? Generally it should be larger than your subject. If you’re photographing a mango as a still life, then a 24 inch softbox or some sort should be more than enough. If you’re photographing a person, then you’ll need something like a six or seven foot umbrella or softbox.

Then what you’ll need to do is meter the subject for the flash/strobe output and then meter accordingly on your camera to the ambient light. When you’ve metered for the ambient, underexpose by around 2/3rds of a stop.

If the shutter speed is too slow for you to handhold, use a tripod or crank up the ISO and re-meter for the flash output.

If you don’t want to raise the ISO any higher, then what you’re going to need to do is use a tripod to avoid any camera shake.

When a flash and strobe are involved in the creation of an exposure, the flash output exposure is dictated by the aperture while the ambient light is dictated by the shutter speed. ISO controls the overall sensitivity of the scene.

As long as your positioning of the light covers and wraps around the subject and the ambient light is accordingly exposed for you’ll be able to create a beautiful wrap around light effect.

The other alternative: Place the light on one side of a subject and then place the subject by a wall and have the light bounce off the wall and fill in the other side of the person. The wall will act like a natural reflector.