July 12, 2013

Knowing Light. Lighting set-ups (IV)

Missed part III? read it  here.

Let's continue with more light set-ups.

Rim Lighting. If the Key light is placed behind the subject only the outline will be illuminated leaving the subject in shadow. It is used to create silhouettes and express a sense of mystery and intrigue in a very artistic way. You can choose to soften the effect by placing a Fill light or a reflector in font of the subject. Rim lighting is very often used in conjunctions with more lights because it helps to separate the subjects from the background and to highlight hair.
Back lighting. When the rim lighting is not that extreme we have a light set-up which is especially used for translucent objects like bottles and glasses. The key light is normally doubled: two lights of equal power are placed on both side of the subject. You can either choose to light directly the subject or bounce the light with a white background. In both cases you have to be careful with light spills: to prevent this you need to use flags and lens hood.

High key lighting. This set-up is characterized for very bright mid tones, intentionally blown highlights and very few shadows. The key light is positioned on one side of the subject at 45º, while the fill light in the opposite side at the same degree. The background has to be white and illuminated by two background lights of the same power.

All these lighting set-ups are really variations of the triangle set-up we seen in this post. These are the basis but you have to feel free to add or remove lights, change positions, directing the subject towards one light or another and move around: you'll see how light and its effects change by doing so. This is the best way of learning to master light: practise and experiment.


  1. It was wondering if I could use this write-up on my other website, I will link it back to your website though.Great Thanks.
    Pendant Lights

  2. Great post, thank you for sharing this useful information