I am new to photography (less than a year) and I am reading Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Book. I tried applying his profile silhouette technique but can't. The transcript in the book requires only one softbox. When I researched rim lighting, it often uses more than one light source.

Side Question: I also have 2 pairs of reflective umbrellas to go with 2 continuous lights. Can I use these as alternative for Scott Kelby's approach?

The transcript from the book:

"This is one of those super-quick, 30-second tricks that have a big impact. First, aim your softbox sideways and have your subject stand directly in front of the center of it (facing your camera). Now, have them turn sideways toward the softbox, so they’re facing it directly. Next, have your subject take a step or two sideways, closer to you (while you’re at your camera position). Have them step sideways toward you until they have actually moved past the edge of the softbox (so there’s no softbox in front of them at all. It’s actually a foot or so behind them, from your vantage point at the camera). Now take your shot. What you’ll get is a strong rim light all the way around the profile of your subject, and the rest will appear as a black silhouette. If you want a little light to appear on the cheek facing the camera, have them move just a few inches back toward the light until you see that cheek lit just a tiny bit (this is where the modeling light comes in handy, because you can see a preview of how the light will fall)."

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It is doable with a single light reflecting off a background. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Sep 7, 2012 at 12:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You may also want to research Dark Field Lighting photo.stackexchange.com/q/7487/1819 \$\endgroup\$
    – Shizam
    Sep 7, 2012 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


Scott's approach to achieve profile silhouettes and rim lights is good. If you set the lighting as described, I think that you don't have the right exposure. Try with exposure compensation with -1 or -2.

If possible give us a link to your results, so we can directly see the issues and figure why the picture is not as good as you want it to be.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you elaborate on why the lighting as described might need negative exposure compensation? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Oct 16, 2012 at 11:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I've only give an advice based on my experience with simmilar. If you used modes other than 'M' camera metered the exposure for you. Depends on which exporuse metering mode your camera use, and the specific light settings (one side of the scene is much lighter than the other), exposure that camera suggests is often incorrect. Camera does not know which effect you want to achieve, and suggests exposure for 'normal' circumstances. If you give us a link to your result picture, we could analyze it and tell what in camera or light settings was wrong. That would be the best :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Dejo
    Oct 16, 2012 at 11:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.