More New Lighting Samples (Edge Light)

by William Lulow

The next lighting I want to demonstrate is the EDGE LIGHTING. This light is placed about 45 degrees to the back of the subject. Here is a diagram:

EDGE Light Setup

The light is placed behind the subject and on roughly a 45 degree angle. It can be placed on either side and when I use it, I usually put a black card as a “gobo” to block the light from hitting the lens. Here is the result of an EDGE LIGHT placed on the opposite side of the subject:


The EDGE LIGHT should only light the edge of the face. It should not spill over to any part of the face. Here, there is some light on the face due to the reflection of light in the studio generally. But, ideally, there should be no light on the face.

EDGE LIGHTS provide great accents for the subject. They are used to highlight a particular detail or provide extra light on dark subjects. They are also used to separate the subject from the background and give it some extra depth. One should learn to recognize this type of lighting as it occurs in nature as well, because it can do the same job outdoors as it does in the studio. Here is an example of an EDGE LIGHT that I just happened to find in nature:


This was a strong EDGE LIGHT coming mostly from behind the rushes and the light had to be shaded from the camera lens to avoid flaring out the image. But it clearly separated the subject from the background.

Here’s how the EDGE LIGHT is used in combination with other lights in the studio to produce highlights on the subject:


Note the highlights on the subject’s hair and shoulders. It makes her stand out more from the background and gives the viewer’s eye more to look at within the picture itself. These hightlights were created by two EDGE LIGHTS set up on either side of the subject, each about on a 45 degree axis to her.