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Pro Video Tips is designed for busy videographers like you. This series brings you a new tip every week, on everything from controlling reflections to hiding mics. Host Anthony Q. Artis covers shooting techniques for particular video challenges like portraits, tools to help you control light and judge exposure, and advice for the traveling videographer, such as putting together a great lens kit or packing a truck. Come back every Tuesday for a new round of tips.
One of my favorite types of light to work with is backlight. You may be more familiar with it as a hair light, but it's also known as a kicker or rim light. These are all different names for slight variations of a light that illuminates a subject from behind. Rather than the more common frontal placement for lights on our subject. The primary and most important use of back lighting is to help separate your subject from the background by giving them a nice well defined edge of light that helps to visually carve them out from the scene behind them. Kind of like adding a line or stroke to a picture for an illustration.
Traditional photography and video advice has always recommend that you generally keep your back to the sun or main light source so the light can fall on the subject's face. And, that's generally good advice for amateur image makers. However, backlighting completely throws that novice rule out of a sunlit window. One of the things that comes with experience is learning how and when to break the rules and still make it look good. That's why I like back lighting so much. It's kind of like the anti hero of video lighting. It's a rule breaker that gets results.
If Lady Gaga were a film light. She'd be a backlight. So let's dive in and talk about the different types of backlights, exposure strategies, and some common problems to look out for.
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