June 22, 2013

Knowing light. Lighting set-ups (II) Broad and short light.

Read part I here.

There are several ways to dispose lights: it will depends on the scene we want to light, what part of the scene we want to highlight, what we don't want to, the mood we want to give the whole scene...

The most common lighting set-up is the triangle set-up, where one light is positioned on the right side of the camera and the other one on the left side. Distance from the camera, angle, height of the lights depend on your choice; someone will tell you one thing about this matter while someone else will tell you exactly the opposite. It doesn't really matter! 

The important issue is that the two lights differs in power: the Key light has to be more powerful than the Fill light; by this we will get some contrast and depth in the image and, most important of all, the light in the scene will have a direction.

Depending on where lights are positioned on the side of the camera, only two situation can occur: each one of the two lights falls on different areas of the subject or they overlay summing its lights.
When lights overlay on one part of the subject we will have a sum of the two lights while the opposite side will be lit just by one. This will give us the contrast of the scene. The most common contrast used is the 1:3 contrast, where the brighter part of the subject is lit 3 times more than the other side. It's the easiest contrast to get because you just need the key light to be twice as powerful as the fill light. 
In a portrait, if the brighter side of the subject faces the camera, we are using a broad lighting set-up; if it's the darker side facing the camera, we are using a short lighting set-ups

Broad lighting

Deciding which one of those we should use it is not only a matter of mood because these two lighting set-ups have a strong effect on a subject's features: broad lighting widens while short lightning narrows.

Short lighting

So, which set-up would you use for a round face?

Stay tuned for more lighting set-ups!

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