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Lighting 301

Lesson 22 of 26

Wrapping Background Light

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

Lighting 301

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

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Lesson Info

22. Wrapping Background Light
Behold the (lighting) power of a bright, neutral-colored wall. Pye uses such a wall to wrap light around his subjects in one shot and as a baseline to create a double exposure in another. Post-production instruction is included in this lesson.

Lesson Info

Wrapping Background Light

This is the wrapping background light, and it's a fun trick to learn, because essentially anywhere where you can find a relatively bright, neutral wall, you can turn it into its own light source. That's going to basically blow out and wrap around your subjects now. Not only is this shot cool in and of itself, it's also kind of the perfect way to create your baseline layer for an in camera or a post production double exposure, which we're going to show you as well. So let's jump into this. What I want to show you guys in this video is how we're essentially gonna turn any neutral background into kind of that backlit, blown out studio look. Now it's a fun shot to know how to do it, because you can do this anywhere any time of day, even when there's red lights, even when the scene is doesn't look good like this one. And all we need is to basic flashes that we're gonna fire against the background and we're using a neutral background because we want to basically fire the light against it and...

have that light open up and wrap around as much as possible. to kind of like the faces, but we're basically shooting a silhouette almost of the couple. Well, we're gonna do a couple different things, so let's just stop talking and get into it. So right here, we have two flashes. So we have our two a ones. Yeah, And what I'm gonna have you guys do is you're gonna come right in front of the camera, and you can keep the jacket until, like, the very, very end. So that way, you guys stay a little bit warmer. So let's go ahead and put these both on. Uh huh. Let's go both on 10 a. Mm. Yeah. Okay. And then what I'm gonna do is back up just a little bit, guys, because what we have to do is actually place this light behind you guys. So you guys are going to come forward. Keep coming. Come, come, come. Yeah, and then what we're gonna do is place. He's actually right behind you. Okay? Can you match that up on your side? So far, you're gonna notice that this technique looks a lot like the background silhouette shots that we did earlier. The primary differences here is that we want our subjects very close to that light source itself. In addition, we're going to be firing with these flashes at a fairly high power because we want the background to turn white and for enough light to come forward and sort of wrap around. Our subjects were also going to be closing down the aperture to prevent some of the kind of blooming effect that might occur if you're shooting this wide open. So keep watching. We're gonna get a very different look out of this image from almost the exact same setup just by using different settings, and it's gonna go directly behind them as well. Now, let me set you guys up in a post. I can get this basic shot of what we have. Um, so go ahead. And, like, I want you guys to close against each other. Okay? So face each other perfect. And I want to get I want to get a profiles. There it is, all the hair behind. And now you can take the jacket off, if that's okay. Gina Jane, you want to lose the jacket? Now? I'm gonna go ahead and get an annual light shot and we're gonna keep this at? We're gonna keep the white balance 5500. Just so you guys can see what this scene looks like. Natural? No Flash. Let's go ahead and zoom in on them. Okay? So pull each other in tight. There you go. Lean the heads against each other a little bit. Let me just kind of back this up a little bit. He's greasy, not grease it. Yes. Happy Do happy do. Okay, touch foreheads. There you go. Right there. Perfect. Ice closed. Perfect. So this natural light shot is not gonna look that great right now because we have a lot of puppy, like coming around it. So what I'm gonna do is actually Nick's all that light. And to do that, I'm gonna bring my aperture actually pretty close down. I'm also gonna go from 6400. I so way down to, like, probably I. So let's go with an aperture. Maybe F four and one 202nd. Now, if I take this shot, you'll notice that we see nothing. Okay, so that's perfect, because we've knocked out all of the ambient light. And now, with two flashes directly behind their shoulders, I want to make sure that these flashes essentially can't see the camera itself, So lower them just a bit and we're gonna angle them up. So it's right about where their heads are while they blow on each other. Like reminisce wolves. We don't need the gels, and we're just gonna wind it out. Basically. Now, what is the flash powers out on each of these? Sorry, I'm super close to you in there. Get in there and which, Okay, five A five A. Yeah. Okay. Oh, that was so bright. Oh, it's way too much late. Okay, we got the general gist of this, though. So, Karen, I need you on this side so I can adjust the flashes left and right just a bit. So pull the one that's next to Heath. Just a little bit more. This way. This way. Yep. And do the one that's next to Gina a little bit more towards the other side. There you go. And heaths more. A little bit more to the side. There it is, right there. Okay, guys. Now touch foreheads and we're at, like, 10 power on both those, right? So we don't need that much juice I'm gonna bring it down. So this is like, a quarter power 1/8 power, and we're gonna test from right here. So let's see what this looks like first. Okay, Now we're actually getting somewhere, because now we have, namely, a silhouetted shot where it looks like everything around them is kind of blown out. We're missing a little bit, though. We need to blow out just a bit more. Stop blowing on each other. You got to. Okay, now, let's get our actual shot. So, Gina, you're gonna throw all the hair behind you. I've got one strand on the other side. There you go. I'm gonna close this down to F 56 and I'm gonna add just a little bit more light. So maybe, like, half power eyes closed, Guys, here we go. Soft smile at the lips. Heath. Chin up. Just a tiny bit. Right there. Right there. Right there. Hold that right there. Perfect. Now the goal is to get most everything that background blown out. So what I need to do is get this flash just pointed over this way a little bit more and that one over that way a little bit more for those wondering, We're using two lights instead of a one light setup here because it makes it a lot easier to evenly spread and blow out the entire background behind the couple, as opposed to kind of having a hot spot in a certain area and then having detail in other areas of the background. Let's keep going. Okay, let's do that one more time, Guys. Gina, chin in a little bit right there. Right there. Right there. Right there. There. We have almost every piece of that blown out. That is perfect. Now, Heath, roll your right shoulder out Just a tiny bit there, right there. Now lean into each other as if you just did it on your own. And I wasn't asking you to. So do it in motion. There you go. Right there. Soft smiles. I love that. Let me see it. Well, I love that. Pull back and smile, pull back and smile a little bit. There it is. I love that. Okay, So let me show you guys this look, because what we're essentially doing here is blowing everything out. And the reason that I'm keeping the aperture up high is because that light is gonna bloom around them. This makes for really great silhouette shots like this one where you have a little bit of detail on the other side. And if you want more detail, you could actually have someone standing on this side with a reflector to catch that light and bounce it back into their face. But I actually don't want to do that because in another tutorial, we're gonna show you all how to take this shot and combine it with a double exposure for a clean looking double exposure that you might think was done in Photoshop. So we'll save that for another video. For now, let's check out the post on this image. It's fun to see before and after. So on the left side we have a raw, unedited file just exposed for natural light. On the right side, we have the raw, unedited file, and we're exposing for that background flash so you can see how big of a difference it makes and how you can literally transform a scene right in front of your client's eyes. Now, let me show you briefly how we would actually edit this image. Okay, so go ahead and pick any file. I'm going to go ahead and just work on this one. Honestly, these types of images don't need a whole heck of a lot. I'm gonna go ahead and turn on the highlight and clipping alerts so you can see now how we're trying to get that even coverage across the background because you'll even notice with two lights. There's still these areas that aren't quite blown out, but we will take care of those right here in post. So let's go ahead and do this. The first thing that I want to do is let's dial in. Uh, I'm going to raise my shadows just a bit. The reason why is I'd like to retain some detail on my face while kind of letting everything else deepen into a dark black and have kind of extra contrast. So I'm going to go ahead and lower blacks and add a little bit of contrasted the image we're handling essentially the flare by adding more contrast, so there's a couple different options here in terms of handling the background. I'm good with my overall exposure and I might deepen it just a little bit. But I like it right here. The thing is, I could press J and raise my whites until the background is fully blown out. The problem is, when I do that, I lose kind of edging on their faces, as you can see, like on his forehead and everywhere else. So instead of doing that, I'm going to leave whites where it's at, actually, and I might even see here. Let's drop the white point a little bit to kind of preserve some in the face and drop the highlight a little bit too again, kind of preserve some of the detail over here in the face. Our background is still completely blown out, so we don't need to worry about that. So instead, for the actual backgrounds on these edges, all we're going to do to kind of finish it is scrap a brush, and I have a preset setting for white out. Okay, so if you click Dodge White out for those that have the presets for those that don't just posit, raise your exposure, your highlights and your whites all the way up and save it out and turn on auto mask. This is going to allow us to just paint that edge right directly over there. So all we're gonna do is basically just blow out these areas that are near but not quite blown. So now we have kind of complete white behind them. But we didn't have to kind of compromise the face and the detail in the face by raising the white point. This little thing I'm not a big fan of I'm not sure what that is. It's like some weird thing on the suit or something. You know what? It's not the suit. That's actually the flash head barely poking out so we can fix that very easily. Inside of post, fortunately or inside of Photoshop. Honestly, we could probably fix it just right here with that same white out technique. So what I might do is just go ahead and dive in and paint right over that, Okay? This will make super quick work of it. We don't even have to go into Photoshop. What I might do is just repair that edge. So what you see happening right now is because we forgot to turn off the auto mask. And when you don't have auto master non, it tries to guess exactly what you're trying to do. And for this specific area, it's not doing a good job. So I'm just gonna turn off auto mask and paint it myself to kind of create that edge. And I can shrink the brush down a little bit if I need to, so that the edge kind of matches up everywhere else. Okay, if you mess up anywhere, hold down, alter option, and just paint it back as needed. That's it. So we kind of do a quick little fix of that right here. These are the perfect candidates, by the way, for a black and white variant. So there we have our final colour and black and white image. I'm hoping you enjoyed seeing this background sort of take shape into a rapping studio light honestly, right before our client's eyes and you guys can do the exact same thing, create these really cool images that, in and of themselves are awesome. And later, as we get towards the end of the series, we're going to show you how we're gonna take this exact same scene and we're going to apply a texture over it in camera to create a really cool, clean, double exposure shot. Let's keep going

Class Description


  • Master multiple off-camera flash setups for dramatic portraits.
  • Control light with flash modifiers such as softboxes, grids, and gels.
  • Master creative techniques like creating silhouettes anywhere, pin lighting. your subjects, backlighting rain, creating starbursts with diffraction, and much more.
  • Use various tools in Adobe Lightroom Classic to enhance the images created using the lighting techniques taught in this course.


This workshop is all about using multi-point lighting setups to consistently make any location look great and help you capture dramatic, creative portraits that will wow your clients every time.

Building on the skills learned in Flash Photography Crash Course, Lighting 101 and Lighting 201, we’re going to explore a variety of multi-point lighting techniques and look at different ways to further refine the way we light a scene. We’ll start with light stacking to create depth in our portraits before introducing rim lighting, backlighting, and other creative effects and applications. Then, we’ll incorporate motion into our environmental portraits via shutter drag and show you how to create composite images that would otherwise be impossible to capture. 

We’re going to demonstrate these techniques using a variety of highly portable lighting gear and modifiers. You’ll also find “power translations” with each lesson so that you can know the exact power settings used and recreate the same light using any flash or modifier that you already own. Follow along and see how we crafted all of the images featured in this course, from shoot to post, and learn how to fully realize your vision and bring it to life with your camera. 

The next class in this series is Lighting 401, where Pye teaches photographers how to create every natural light effect with flash, including golden hour, soft window light, and direct sun.


  • Photographers with a basic understanding of flash photography who want to elevate their lighting skills
  • Those looking to boost their creativity when shooting on-location
  • Any photographer who wants to stand out from the competition


Adobe Lightroom Classic 2019

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting 301 Exercise Files

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Jackie Stewart

Lighting 301 is excellent! I learned so many new techniques throughout the class. Pye Jirsa is brilliant at explaining new lighting techniques in such an easy to understand way and his mastery of Lightroom is amazing!!! Loved the class and can't wait til implement the things I learned!!!!


I love the Lighting (101-201-301) courses; I have finally understood the concept of lighting and how it works. I have been referring to my notes and go back to all the courses with ease. One of the best courses I have done for myself and my biz; I am so impressed with my work and the lighting I can create.


Pye is a great presenter and is able to make understanding light easy. Now to practice and master the concepts taught. Thank you.