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Having some extra lighting setups in your repertoire can help prepare you for any type of shooting scenario. This time around, we’re gonna be taking a look at Rembrandt lighting, beauty lighting, cameo lighting, and filling in from the key side. I’m Tom Skowronski and this is lighting set ups.
This lighting set up is defined by the triangle you can see under Julie’s right eye. It’s a very high contrast lighting scheme that works under how many shadows you use to cover someone’s face. You’re looking at about 25 percent of their face that’s gonna end up lit and that’s the 25 percent we want to focus on. Now because we’re using a spotlight for this effect and this lighting setup, you’ll notice that a lot of the areas that the shadows are around tend to draw the viewer in because you want to see where the light is. That’s where your eye gets drawn to. This was very popular in the film noir days and it’s something that’s even used now. The Rembrandt lighting setup takes about three steps.
Step number one is gonna be to take a spotlight and set it about 45 degrees in accordance with the camera’s position. Step number two is gonna be to raise that light about three or four feet above the subject’s head. Therefore, it’ll bring down some nice, hard shadows. And step number three would be to add the uses of a reflector to create some nice, diffused, softer light just in case those shadows are a little bit too harsh and we can’t make out anything in our shot.
Step number three in this process involves the use of a reflector and what we’re gonna do is catch the light from the spotlight and bring down the intensity a bit that’s on Julie’s face. You can see she still has the triangle there, but the shadows are a little bit less harsh.
The big focus of beauty lighting is to hide certain imperfections in the face, while keeping the subject lit just well enough so that there aren’t a bunch of shadows overpowering the face. This technique is commonly used in photo spreads because of how it hides imperfections in the skin. You can hardly notice Julie’s face tattoos and you can see that she’s lit very naturally, but it’s not harsh. It’s a very low contrast type of light and it’s not overpowering. We’re not getting a lot of very vicious shadows or anything like that.
As you can see, we have two lights set up for this technique. We’re gonna use a light up front that’s very soft and it can be diffused. If you guys have a powerful light, you’re just gonna want to set it back. We’re gonna want to make sure that our lights are at about eye level with the subject or at about the same height as our camera and the reason for this is so we get a nice, natural light and also that the backlight, when we get that into place, it doesn’t overpower and spill through. We’re gonna want a nice rim of light on top of her head, so it’s more angelic.
The second light that we have set up in this scene is gonna be the backlight. As you guys can see, this backlight rests at about four or five feet away from our subject and is about two or three feet higher. This is what gives it that nice kind of rim light that’s just gonna hit the top of her head and add that kind of halo. This is just a basic setup that we’re using, just two lights. You could actually use a lot more lights. You just have to pay attention to making sure that those lights are very soft so they don’t overcast any shadows along the subject’s face.
Cameo lighting is a technique that centers around the use of a spotlight positioned about the subject that shines down directly on top of them, giving them an angelic vibe as if God is shining down. This should be a harsh lighting scheme.
The first thing that we’re gonna do is set up our lights to hang downwards and at a very high angle. You’re gonna want to position them at about six or seven feet above the subject. Therefore, when the lights come down, they’re gonna give that halo effect and they’re gonna be very harsh, so they’re gonna hit your subjects very hard and it’s really gonna light up that whole area. The reason we don’t use soft lights for this instance is because it’s a lot harder to get somebody to stand out. The key to this setup is to be able to have a light that’s powerful enough that can beam down all of that illumination, but at the same time, isn’t so powerful that it washes out your subject entirely.
The key elements to this lighting setup is to keep the stand very close to the subject’s body and raise it at about three or four feet higher than their head.
Filling in from the key side is great for lighting that reflects a more natural outdoor environment reminiscent of a nice, cloudy day. Filling in from the key side requires taking the fill light and the key light and lighting from both the same side. The reason this works is because the light that comes from the fill spills over and actually wraps around the subject’s face, therefore, creating a much more natural and much more flattering type of lighting.
The first step in this process revolves around taking both your key and your fill light and moving them 45 degrees from the position of your camera.
The next step in our process is gonna be to set up our backlight at about two feet above our subject’s head and at about four or five feet away from the subject. The idea here is to make sure that the light that wraps around the subject’s face doesn’t create too many shadows.
The last part of the process is to check your LCD screen and make sure that you’re not receiving too many shadows along the face and that it, indeed, does look very natural.
The key to understanding a lot of these lighting setups is patience. It’s gonna take quite a bit of trial and error and quite a bit of experimentation in order to get each and every scenario down perfectly just for you.
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