Using Light to Create Separation

One of the most fundamental skills a photographer can have is the ability to separate their subject from the background. It goes beyond just physical distance, however. Good background separation requires control of light, and this great tutorial will show you exactly how to achieve that with a variety of different looks.

Creating subject-background separation can be what makes a portrait really pop or a video look highly professional. In this tutorial from The Slanted Lens, you'll see the myriad ways to accomplish this. Notice that while Jay P. Morgan gets into multi-light setups, he starts with just one. It's quite possible to use a single carefully placed light (and a reflector should you so choose) to create the proper separation. My personal favorite is a subtle rim light, as it provides the requisite separation and also gives a lovely artistic framing of the subject via their own hair or the perimeter of their head. Using a bold color as he does in this video is another way to really create images or video that pops; notice how the subject instantly jumps off the background when he turns it purple. It doesn't take much, though; even a well-placed reflector can give you what you need. Get out there and experiment! 

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