Learn How, When and Why to Use Negative Fill (Including DIY Solutions)

Mar 23, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Learn How, When and Why to Use Negative Fill (Including DIY Solutions)

Mar 23, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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Source: YouTube/Indie Cinema Academy
Source: YouTube/Indie Cinema Academy

Fill light is probably one of the first things you learn when shooting in a studio or taking outdoor portraits, but many people aren’t aware of the reversed method – negative lighting.

As the name suggests, this method is used to subtract unwanted light and increase contrast.

In this 6-minute tutorial, Indie Cinema Academy explains what negative fill light is, how you go about using this method and why you’d even want to. The video provides examples of using negative fill and offers side-by-side comparisons, making it very useful and a great way to learn.

As you can see in the video, this is a cheap and easy solution to get richer blacks, avoid unwanted light and prevent colored shadows.

Despite the low cost of buying negative fill tools, and it being even cheaper to rent them, Indie Cinema Academy also discuss DIY solutions such as using a dark coat or a large piece of felt.

This tool might not be a game changer, but it’s small improvements like this that will help you enhance your skills and ultimately have a better understanding and control over your light.

Check out these studio tips ranging from backdrops to lighting for more great ideas.

Source: YouTube/Indie Cinema Academy
Source: YouTube/Indie Cinema Academy
Source: YouTube/Indie Cinema Academy
Source: YouTube/Indie Cinema Academy

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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2 responses to “Learn How, When and Why to Use Negative Fill (Including DIY Solutions)”

  1. Stefano Avatar
    Stefano

    I think these negative fills work better with single subject scenario, when shooting groups of subjects (like 4-5 people standing together) i think the fill will be stronger on one side and almost invisible on the other one. In the video you can see that effect when the model moves away and back from the fill.

  2. Tim @ICA Avatar
    Tim @ICA

    Thanks for reposting our lesson on Negative Fill! We have lighting diagrams, transcription of the video, and gear we used for this lesson on the lesson page:
    http://indiecinemaacademy.com/academy/negative-fill-the-best-kept-secret-cinematic-lighting-lesson-08/

    Feel free to repost other videos. We have a bunch of free videos in the Camera Foundations section.

    Tim