The three-point lighting is the basic and the best-known setup for portraits, but it’ also the bread-and-butter of interview lighting. Coming to you from Spiffy Gear, this video will show you the basics of three-point interview lighting in a clear and concise way. There’s a breakdown of the setup, and then you’ll see some small additions to the setup that make a big difference.
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One of the bigger personal projects I’ve been working on recently is my Cinematic Studio Lighting course. During the process of writing the accompanying notes and shooting promotional images for the event, I’ve done a ton of research on how cinematographers and directors of photography work, think and plan their shots. I originally thought the two worlds of photography and cinematography would be fairly similar, but I ended up learning a lot more than I thought I would and I think that’s down to how cinematographers approach the setup of their image compared to many of us photographers, especially those of us who primarily shoot in a studio.
One of the oldest lighting techniques in the book is called “Three Point Lighting”. It is vastly used in studio photography and by snobby fashion photographers. It is also a very good basis for any portrait photograph. In this technique you use three lights:
The first light is a key light. Usually this is the strongest light and this light sets the lighting of the scene.
The second light is called a fill light, this light helps fill the shadows that the main light casts.
The last light is called a backlight (because it comes from the back), and is used to create a contour and separation. It is common to use a snoot or a gridspot on the backlight to avoid a spill.
The guys at mediacollege have created a nice illustration and explanation of that basic technique. They have also created a cool flash simulator (After writing this, I’ve noticed that this is a pan, so no credits here. Kudos for the great pan) that can help understand the concept of a three point lighting. Or you can just click the various lights and enjoy seeing how the model reacts to each type of light. The flash simulator is also good way to understand key light and backlight in general.
While in general the guys (or girls, I don’t know who works there) deal with video, the lighting stuff is great for still photographers as well.
With the prolific use of flash in photography these days, and the amount of information that is out there, you’d think it would be quite a simple task by now for somebody to figure out a path for their lighting needs. But because there’s so much information out there, newer users can actually find flash quite intimidating.
In this four-part video series, photographer Ed Verosky goes through a complete crash course on flash. He starts off with the basics of using your flash on the camera, through getting it off the camera in a studio environment, to taking it out into the wild and mixing it with existing lighting.
Making mistakes is an inevitable part of our learning process. Still, it’s good to learn how to avoid them, so we can grow and make our work better. Nerris Nassiri from Aputure shares five biggest mistakes all beginner cinematographers make. But to be honest, photographers will recognize themselves in some of these, too. Did you make them when you were still new to cinematography/photography as well?
Here is Wikipedia’s definition for Low-Key Lighting:
Low-key lighting is a style of lighting for photography, film or television. It is a necessary element in creating a chiaroscuro effect. Traditional photographic lighting, three-point lighting uses a key light, a fill light, and a back light for illumination. Low-key lighting often uses only one key light, optionally controlled with a fill light or a simple reflector.
Low key light accentuates the contours of an object by throwing areas into shade while a fill light or reflector may illuminate the shadow areas to control contrast. The relative strength of key-to-fill, known as the lighting ratio, can be measured using a light meter. Low key lighting has a higher lighting ratio, e.g., 8:1, than high-key lighting, which can approach 1:1.
The term “low key” is used in cinematography to refer to any scene with a high lighting ratio, especially if there is a predominance of shadowy areas. It tends to heighten the sense of alienation felt by the viewer, hence is commonly used in film noir and horror genres. #
When you first start using strobes, it can be exciting but also overwhelming. There’s a lot to learn and a lot of mistakes to make before you get it right. In this video from Behind the Shutter, photographer Michael Corsentino shares his experience with strobes. He talks about ten things he wishes he’d known before he started shooting with them. If you’re just starting out, this video will help you learn and avoid mistakes.