Special Lighting Technique


William Lulow

Here’s an interesting lighting technique which, if you have been following any of my lighting articles, you might recognize. It is achieved by over-exposing the background to the point where some of the excess light bounces back into the camera lens and creates some flare. It is the creative control of this flare that produces the effect. This is the lighting setup:


First, there are two lights aimed at the background. Then, gobos are placed in order to block some light from hitting the lens. Next, power is turned up on the background lights so that they register two-to-three stops brighter than the main light. Finally, a soft filter is used in front of the lens to add some specular diffraction of the background light. This causes the light to be diffused even more.

This is the result:

Blown-out BKg(8x10)

A variation on this theme is to set up the same lighting technique, but use a cross-processing filter to alter the colors.

This is the result:

These images were the result of experimentation with controlling light, then letting it get out of control in a regulated way. New techniques in photography are discovered in much the same way as they are in painting, sculpture or any of the arts. They come with a deep understanding of the “rules” and then the knowledge of how to break them successfully.