Lighting A Background

Last week when we were shooting interviews for a capital campaign video we were faced with the situation that we had many individuals on the schedule back-to-back without the time to setup in multiple locations to provide for a variety of backgrounds.

Anticipating this would be the case, we brought our entire light kit and a blue mottled background. We lit the subjects as normal – a Lowel Rifa-lite soft box as a key light and a Lowel ViP Pro-light for a backlight – and we added one of our Lowel Omni-lights for the background.

In order to provide variation using this single background, I draped the background cloth over a pair of stands with a crossbar and gathered the cloth in various configurations, securing it with a number of clips. We rarely properly fold this background because the wrinkles and creases actually add to the texture of the cloth, adding more interest.

Using the Omni with different colored gels set to either the lower left or right, only slightly forward of the background, I was able to create lots of shadow and more options than using the cloth alone.

Also, it is important to place your subject far enough in front of the background so that while you are focused on the subject the background will blur. Remember to use your depth of field to allow the viewer to focus their attention on the subject. If we had a larger space to work in, we would have actually placed the background farther back in order to make it even more abstract.

Below, you can see a layout of our setup from both an overhead and front view.

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