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Lighting FAQ

Books and reading

Lighting basics

  • “Hard” or “soft” light characterizes the shadow appearance.
  • In general, the larger, more diffused the light source, the softer the light quality.
  • There is no rule as to when to use hard or soft light for a shot or scene, and there is no correct or incorrect method.
  • While soft light is more forgiving when lighting people, hard light can be used to produce dramatic shadows and attractive lighting effects.
  • The primary light source (the key light) generally sets the softness of the light.
  • Color Temperature & Color Rendering Index: Candle (1800K), Incandescent (2800K), Thungsten Halogen (3200K), Household Fluorescend (~4500K), Noon Sunlight (5600K), Shade (8000K), Skylight (12000K)
  • Key, fill, separation (“hair”), and background lights.
    • The key light is the primary light source for the subject area of the image.
    • The fill light is an additional light source designed to fill in the shadow areas created by the key source.
    • The separation light, or hair light, is designed to help visually separate the subject(s) from the background.
    • The background light can be the first or final light to be set for a scene or shot, depending upon the importance of the background lighting in the scene and your lighting style.
  • Open-faced and the Fresnel-lensed lights – hard light; softbank, frost – light-softeners
  • Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide (HMI), Light Emitting Diode (LED), and Light Emitting Plasma (LEP) lamps
  • Reflections and reflectors
  • DIY cheap solutions
  • Creating Dimension:
    • Lighting is the tool to make a 2D image —the frame projected on a screen—appear three-dimensional. To create a convincing three-dimensional image, the subjects and layers of the scene must be separated from each other. This is accomplished with light or color, creating contrasts of light against dark or dark against light, and by strategic placement of lights and color elements.
  • Realistic (“Naturalism”) vs. Unrealistic (“Pictorialism”) lighting
    • “Natural” look (interviews, documentaries, etc.) follows the logical positioning of light sources in a scene and is often referred to as motivated lighting. For example, when two people are photographed facing each other in an exterior daylight scene, and one person is backlit, the other person should be in full sunlight.
    • stylized “Unrealistic” lighting (fantasy, sci-fi, art-house movies) that bear little resemblance to real life: strong colored lights, heavy shadows, lights coming from strange places, unexpected pools of light, and so on. Pictorialism allows the use of light angles that violate Naturalism’s logic for artistic effect. Though not realistic, both people might be backlit simply because it looks better.
  • High-key lighting is predominantly bright and allows few dark areas or shadows within the scene. This kind of lighting features strong illumination on the subject and often an equally exposed background.
  • Low-key lighting (Mostly darks shots)
    • Shoot a scene where much of the screen is dark, allowing the audience to focus on one small part of the shot. Low-key lighting enhances depth by using contrasting tones of highlights and shadow. Only a few areas are lit at or above key, resulting in more shadow areas.
  • “Night”/ Dark lighting setup in daylight
    • Underexpose the scene and add a couple of front lights
  • Faking lighting continuity
    • Shoot a scene with several different lighting setups -reset the light for each scene- but make it look consistent. The aim is to make every shot look as good as it can, and create a pleasing visual composition. In some scenes, a character may be lit from completely different directions, or may have different colored lighting on them. If it’s done well, the audience will never notice the lack of continuity.
  • Moving lights
    • Light a scene, but have the lights moving so that the lighting changes during the scene.
  • Handheld Lights.
  • Silhouettes
  • Shadows
camera-usage/lighting-faq.1380375431.txt.gz · Last modified: 2013/09/28 07:37 by igorek7