Studio Lighting – What Short Light And Broad Light Are

May 28, 2006

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Studio Lighting – What Short Light And Broad Light Are

May 28, 2006

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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broad light short lightWhat Is Short Light?
Short light is type of studio lighting setup, where the face side which is further from the camera gets the main light. see the diagram for details. In this type of lighting setup, the side of the face which is toward the camera gets less light then the side facing away form the camera. The effect you get when using this lighting setup is a thin face, this is why it is good to photograph fat (or chubby) people with a short light setup.

short light setup

Diagram 1 – Short Light


Let’s look at a picture of a friend of mine – Winnie the poo. Looks like Winnie had allot of honey and he is quite chubby. The flash is set up to my right, and Winnie is looking to his left. This make his face look a bit thinner than what they really are. Short light is very useful in portrait photography, as it gives drama to the subject. (Short light setup also stresses skin wrinkles, to create even more drama for older people)

short light

What Is Broad Light?
Broad light is just the opposite of Short light. In the Broad Light setup, THe side that is getting the most light is the side turning towards the camera. This setup is less commonly used for portraits as it tends to make people look chubby. See the diagram for setup.

broad light setup

Diagram 2 – Broad Light


Lets look at Winnie again. This picture was taken at the same focal length (135mm with 1.5 crop factor D70’s sensor). This time Winnie looks very chubby. Oh Winnie! what have you been eating? Also note how the picture looks a bit flatter. There are not allot of light and shade plays.

broad light

For both types of light you can use a fill light at the opposite side to the main light, or do as I did and use a reflector at 45 deg. (see diagrams).

Conclusion:

Light Type

Side to Get Most Light

Chubbiness

Wrinkles

Short Light

Away From Camera

Reduce

Intensify

Broad Light

Facing Camera

Increase

Reduce


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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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4 responses to “Studio Lighting – What Short Light And Broad Light Are”

  1. Evie Kelsey Avatar
    Evie Kelsey

    i don’t understand broad lighting, can you simply describe it for me? I’m studying photography as a gcse and i don’t understand broad lighting

    1. Liam Prince Avatar
      Liam Prince

      Say your subject is facing/looking to the right in the photograph, then broad lighting would place the light coming in from the left, to fill up the larger part of the subject’s visible face. This means only a small part of the subject’s face would be in shadow, hence it appears to make the subject larger/”fatter”

  2. Zora Murff Avatar
    Zora Murff

    How about “more flattering” or “less flattering” instead of “fat.”

    1. JOhn C Avatar
      JOhn C

      More or less flattering is vague, and like much PC speak, is not helpful. The same lighting that makes a face thinner also highlights wrinkles, which could be said to be less flattering. Many other things could be said to be more or less flattering.