Three easy ways to create background separation in your portraits using speedlights


posted Monday, January 23, 2017 at 3:00 PM EDT


Photographer Manny Ortiz has a number of excellent tutorials on his YouTube channel to help budding portrait photographers get better results without breaking the bank. His videos showcase how to achieve excellent results with only speedlights rather than large, expensive studio lights. He even has videos geared toward getting great results with a single off-camera flash. His latest video is focused on three easy ways to separate your subject for dynamic portraits.

His first technique is to put a grid on a speedlight and aim the light directly at the background, right behind the model’s head. The speedlight doesn’t show up in the frame, but it throws light on the background, helping the model stand out against the background. A second technique is to create a rim light with a speedlight positioned at an angle behind the model, which throws light on the subject’s head and shoulders rather than on the background to create separation. If you want an even rim light, you can use two lights, one on each side.

As is often the case with Ortiz’s videos, he includes helpful before and after comparison shots to drive home his point. It’s impressive how much difference a very simple background or rim light can make in creating dynamic portraits with depth. While there is occasionally a place for portraits where the subject blends into the background, in most cases creating separation results in a much better image.

For more from Manny Ortiz, visit his website, follow him on Instagram and check out his other YouTube videos.

(Seen via PetaPixel)