Movie Poster for the film Kaththi

Please provide me with the camera and light setting that we need to get a snap like this.

Or If editing is done, How to get such result ?


3 Answers 3


To get a good understanding of what you are aiming to do;

  • Read up on the "chiaroscuro effect” and how it effects the image.
  • And then read up on Low key lighting and Split lighting.

The softbox from the side needs to be above eye level, at a 90degree angle to the subject with a grid so that light stays focused and does not spill.

First you need to expose for the background without flash until the image in your camera is black.

You then add the strobe or speed light and increase in steps until you have the desired effect.

An incident light meter will be very helpful as it will take away the guesswork and speedup the process.

Regarding the extreme white and on the left of the model; I suspect the photographer has a barrier right up to the subject pressing into him, stopping any light from spilling over. This is common practice to get the effect as close as possible in the studio before going to post production.

My guess is that there will be another strobe to light the white side, either popping straight on it or a flash from behind if it happens to be a white curtain. both will work.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems reasonable. I'd add that I guess that there was some painting with a black brush on the left side (model's right side) — the light-falloff on the shoulder seems a little unnatural. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Makes Sense Matt regarding the light fall off on the shoulder. shall I add it in as an extra comment \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 17:40

In this case It seems almost certain that they "cheated".
Which they are allowed to do :-).

Take the original image and push the gamma up high enough and you get what you see below.
This very hard transition is usually an indication of editing of some sort. I find this a useful check for many "how did they do xxx" questions where you get transitions which seem somewhat magical or hard to achieve - often hand editing can (and does) help.

The transitiomn to pure black-level is extremelt sharp - there is no smooth gradation but there are jagged squares of lower level scattered along the edge. While it is conceivable that this was produced from a real world lighting effect it certainly appears to be rather brutal editing.

enter image description here


It looks like they used Split Lightningwhich is described here. In post-production they probably have pulled down the shadows in order to get it completely black or used a the brush.

I'm not sure if you could get a natural looking result if you just do a normal portrait and work with since it could be a pain especially when it comes to the clothing.


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