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What is Rim Light in Photography?

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

What is Rim Light in Photography?

Don’t want your photography to fall flat? Try using a rim light effect. This article will go into detail on how to use rim lighting in your photos.

What is a Rim Light?

A rim light is a light that is placed behind a subject that highlights them to make a mysterious and dramatic effect. It can be used with other lighting or on its own.

How is Rim Lighting Used?

Rim lighting can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some examples.

Dramatic Portraits: Rim lighting can be used to highlight the back of a subject leaving the rest in silhouette.

Creating Separation: Traditional three-point lighting includes a key light, fill light, and backlight. Using small LED rim lights make for a separation that is most effective when subjects are shot at night against dark backgrounds.

Thematic Lighting: Thematic lighting can be used to produce a halo-like effect behind a subject.

How to Use Rim Lighting

Here are the various ways to use rim lighting in your shots.

Place the light behind the subject. This will expose your subject while hiding the light behind them.

Move the light to the side. This will show facial contours. It’s best to keep the light behind the subject so it stays hidden. Just move it slightly to the side of their face.

Add a second light opposite the first. This second light should be angled towards the back of the dark side of your subject. It will emphasize the shape of your subject that was previously lost. It’s a great technique for profile portraits.

Rim Lighting in a 3 Point Set Up

Three-point lighting uses a key light, a fill light, and a backlight. Rim lighting is a popular choice for backlighting. Here are some ways you can make it work in this application.

Place the Light Behind Your Subject at an Angle: Place the light behind your subject at the same side as your key light so it’s facing the same direction as your fill light.

Raise the Light: Use your light stand to raise your light up and angle it down on your subject. This will create a halo lighting effect that gives subjects dimension and separates them from their background.

Experiment: While these are all great suggestions, if you play around with your angles and positions, you never know what you will come up with.

Rim lighting is a great way to add drama to your photos. Now that you know how to play around with it, you can get some excellent shots. Which effects will you be adding to your images?

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