I really like this style of pictures. I am unsure though if there is a specific name for this lighting where the subject is in the dark and has a sort of glow around them. Is there a specific name for this style of lighting?

enter image description here

I would like to replicate this style of lighting in the below picture. Knowing the name will help me find more examples and maybe look for specific tutorials, though any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

Click for large version

  • 1
    HI Tejas. Welcome to GDSE. We have some requirements for questions. Could you please edit your question to elaborate on what effect exactly you'd like more info on, because that's not really clear from the question. Also, we usually only allow a single question in a Q&A, though your first and second question could be seen as a pair. Please start a new thread for the third question, although I think you can find the answer to that by using the search box. Please refer to help center if you want more information in the workings of our site.
    – PieBie
    May 29, 2017 at 13:37
  • @PieBie oh, sure...I'll keep that in mind next time :)
    – Tejas
    May 29, 2017 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


Sorry, but you won't be able to easily replicate the look of that image in Photoshop. It's actually a lighting technique, not a Photoshop technique. This is called backlighting the subject, or sometimes "contre-jour" lighting.

In the first photo, the subject has two light sources, left and right, positioned slightly behind the subject. His face is not illuminated. In addition there might even be a third light illuminating the backdrop only.

Lighting diagram

Get the image right in the camera first, then any additional work can easily be done in Photoshop, like further darkening the front of the subject, using an exposure adjustment layer, and a mask.

  • ok, what is the lighting technique called?
    – Tejas
    May 29, 2017 at 10:12
  • back lighting the subject, or sometimes "contrejour" lighting.
    – Billy Kerr
    May 29, 2017 at 10:15
  • thanks...you mentioned it wasn't easy to replicate this in photoshop... any amount of progress is acceptable, so how would i have to go about it?
    – Tejas
    May 29, 2017 at 10:20
  • You could try several exposure adjustment layers and edit the layer masks with a soft edged brush. Looks a bit crappy if I'm honest - see example here: imgur.com/a/Bmgqj
    – Billy Kerr
    May 29, 2017 at 10:33
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    To conlude that: it is way easier and cheaper to take another shoot with desired ligting.
    – Crowley
    May 29, 2017 at 11:15

Seemingly half a day late, but here's one. The photographing is seemingly already well explained, but the image is very different. I selected the fake light to come from the right. Thats only an opinion.

enter image description here

The man was selected by the quick selection tool and the original background was deleted. 2 copies was made, one was left for spare. Added a white background layer.

At first the exposure was added by the curves tool until the face was at the edge of overexposing. The back got big white areas, but they are not shown here.

EDIT: The saturation was reduced because increasing the exposure by the curves tool increased it too much.

Moved another copy (=normal) over the overexposed one. Masked off, where the bright one was wanted to ve visible. Masking = painting black to the layer mask.

Finally added new adjustment layer "darkening". It's Curves layer. Just before making that layer the man was selected to create the layer mask, too.

Adjusted the curve for good nearly black back. Painted black to the layer mask to reveal the bright areas. Painted also a little white to the left to create a fuzzy shadow.

  • What's the settings of the darkening layer? could you post a screenshot?
    – Tejas
    May 29, 2017 at 20:12
  • @Tejas have not the PSD. I have no right to use it for anything, so I let it go after answering. But it was adjustment layer "Curves". The right end of the default line was dragged down until the back seemed dark enough. No more curve mangling. Then I took a smooth black brush with low opacity and slowly painted black to the mask until the bright part was visible enough. At first the mask was a white silhouette of the man. Note that "overexposed" was already covered once by the normal layer and wiped to be partially visible. I got the second chance to brush the gradient a little smoother.
    – user82991
    May 29, 2017 at 21:05
  • @Tejas Actually wrong. The PSD was extractable from the trashcan. It's here, only layer Spare is removed because it's the same as your original photo. dropbox.com/s/47tj07vjeefxlhr/Man_In_Light2.psd?dl=0
    – user82991
    May 31, 2017 at 13:29

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