Hair Light Set Up

by William Lulow

Here’s a neat little set up that I don’t use all that often, but can be kind of handy. When I need some separation between the background and the subject and I don’t want to use my edge light accents, I put a flash head with a small umbrella on a boom and position it over the subject’s head and behind her. It gives a nice soft light on the hair and creates some even separation between the subject and the background.

Here’s the set up:

LightingDiagram_Hair Light On Boom

The main light is my large umbrella and the fill-in is my small soft box. Also, you need to remember that to create accents or hair light separation, these lights need to be at least one stop brighter than the main light. You can achieve this in several ways: (1) placing them closer to the subject, (2) turning up the power and, (3) using the flash heads direct without any diffusion. In this case, the power was set at two stops brighter than the main because I was using an umbrella with the flash head. I wanted the light to be soft, but it still needed to register brighter than the main light.

Here’s the light it creates: