Home Studio - Turn Your Hallway into a Backlit Setting

Wow it's been quite a while since I've posted - think newborn and not getting to shoot much, let alone blog about it! Ok, so the kid is a lot of fun I have to admit, but sometimes we still need our own adult time...

Backlight Setup

Anyways, I'd thought I would share an idea I had of turning a plain old white hallway in my home into a nice white backlit area for photos. A backlit photo is where the main light is coming in front behind the subject.  Here's an example below.  The rest of the results are at the end of the blog.

Model: Angel Yang, MUAH: Alina Amison

So in order for you to light the subject, you have to surround them with a reflective surface so that light spills and wraps around them.  A white wall or an off-white wall is ideal so that you don't get a strange color cast on your subject's skin. Here's a lighting diagram:

  1. Key/main light - placed around the corner and out of sight.  Here I set an Alien Bee 1600 to 1/2 power.
  2. An optional fill light - this is completely optional and depends how far in the subject is placed.  The farther into the corridor, the more the light wraps around. It also depends on the amount of shadow you want on the subject. Here I used an Alien Bee 800 with a bounce umbrella.

Now the downside of this is that hallways tend to be narrow in homes (we're talking Vancouver real estate here people!) and while this setup is great for portraits, you might get some unwanted stuff in the background.  Here's a straight out of camera shot from the above:

Oh yeah, look at that wall on the left, the drain access cover and the plug...

Some Photoshop Skills Required...

So yeah, the initial image needs some work and thankfully, Photoshop comes will some nice cloning tool to take care of the some of the items like that electrical plug.  But extending the wall to the left and getting rid of that big drain cover is going to take something else.  Luckily, Photoshop has this nice free transform tool available. 

First we're going to extend out the base boards on the left.  Use the lasso tool to select an area just before it turns the corner, then right click on the selection and choose 'Free Transform'.  Then go up to the top of the menu bar and click on the little icon to the left of the cancel button.  This will switch it to warp mode.  Now all you have to do is drag those little dots around to stretch the base board out.

Drag those dots around until it stretches out to the edge of the photo.

Drag those dots around until it stretches out to the edge of the photo.

And tada!

And tada!

Next, you'll want to fix the wall above the baseboard. Here there's a couple of methods:

  1. Do the same thing, selection a section of the wall above and free transform it over
  2. Since the wall is a nice even color, use the brush tool and sample the colors and paint it across.

Now rinse and repeat this exercise for the drain port cover on the right side of the image (I leave this as an exercise for the reader.)  And that's it! Edit the image as normal and voila, you've turned a common household corridor into another studio setup!

The Results

I've used this on a few shoots this year and I'm happy with the results.  Here are a few sets I've managed to create with some fellow muses.

Model: Angel Yang, MUAH: Alina Amison

Model: Caitlin Ann Keeshig, MUAH: Cinthia Torres

Model: Dasha, MUAH: Cinthia Torres

Model: Wendy Du, MUAH: Cinthia Torres