Let's clear one thing up right away. The Lastolite HiLite background,
distributed by Bogen Imaging, is easily the most versatile lighting accessory
of recent years, and possibly of all time. No matter if you are a studio or
location photographer, commercial, portrait, wedding, or fashion/beauty photographer,
film or digital, you will find an infinite number of ways to use HiLites in
The current "hot" look in portrait photography features the subject
cleanly lit against a white background. This is a contemporary take on the high-key
portrait, updated with a harder main light, unusual camera or subject angle,
and more casual posing, all borrowed from the latest fashion photography trends.
The Lastolite HiLite background not only makes this easy to do, but allows you
to do it in the smallest of studio and location space.
a flash head on both sides and feathered toward the top, the Lastolite
HiLite background can produce a graduated white background for 3/4
shots. With the addition of an optional Super White Vinyl "train,"
full-length shots are possible.
Lastolite HiLite background sets up quickly and easily in a small
space and with just one flash head inside provides a clean white
All Photos © 2007, Stan Sholik, All Rights Reserved
The difficulty of photographing a subject against a white background is the
need to light the background separately from the subject. The background has
to be bright enough to make it white, but not so bright as to create flare and
lower the contrast of the image. With seamless paper, this generally involves
setting up in a large enough space that the background can be lit separately
from the subject, with the subject posed closer to the camera than the background
lights. These background lights are positioned behind baffles that prevent spill
on the subject and into the lens.
The HiLite background eliminates the need for this lighting setup entirely.
Available in two sizes, 5x7 ft and 6x7 ft, the HiLite allows you to create a
giant light box behind the subject and illuminate it with a single flash head
to achieve the same lighting effect. No more space is needed for the high-key
background than the thickness of the HiLite itself, about 18". The HiLite
is freestanding and very stable, but also includes ties that allow you to rig
it to the crossbar between light stands to raise it off the floor. It is possible
to position subjects within 2 ft or less of the HiLite and still achieve shadowless
the Lastolite HiLite Background directly behind the photographer,
you have a 6x7-foot beauty light.
Moved to the side
of the set, the Lastolite HiLite background makes an excellent
6x7-foot soft light.
The HiLite Test
I tested the 6x7-foot unit. It arrived folded flat into a 3-foot circular carrying
bag. Yes, the HiLite is collapsible, like many Lastolite backgrounds, so you
can easily transport it. Setup is nearly instantaneous, and can be disastrous
unless carried out in a clear area. Once the unfolding process starts, the HiLite
vigorously expands to full-size very quickly. Make sure there are no people
or breakable objects in the way!