How to use studio lighting?
Good light makes for a great composition
While shooting, the lighting setup is as important as the camera hardware you’re using. Playing around with the lights will let you alter the mood, vibe, and feel of the photo. If you’re planning on setting up a studio light setup, and are new to this, here’s our guide on how best to use studio lights.
Basics of studio lighting
In a studio where there is no natural source of lighting, so a three-point lighting setup is the way to go about it. It is used throughout the industry regardless of whether you want to capture stills or video. As the name suggests, it uses three sources of light to illuminate what is in the frame. It is an apt choice for you as the three-point light setup focuses primarily on what is there in the foreground. All three points of light serve different purposes and together they create an eye-pleasing lighting design.
How to set up studio lighting?
The basic principles of three-point light should be used with a conscious effort. It has three components.
1. Key light / Primary light : It is the primary source of light that falls on the prop or the subject in the foreground. It shines directly on a subject and illuminates it. Traditionally, it is kept behind the camera and is going to be the brightest source of light in your whole lighting setup.
The strength, angle, and colour of this light are going to determine the overall mood of your composition. The rest of the components/lights are set in relation to the key light. It does the most work in any lighting setup.
2. Fill light(s) : It shines on the subject, but in a very different way than key lights. It shines on the shaded part of the subject with a softer hue and lower intensity to lessen the shadows. It is often at a side angle, and much lower than the key light in terms of height as well. They are usually set up at a height of the subject's face.
The basic rule to remember here is that your fill lights should never over-power the key light. In many scenarios, you don't actually need to use a light source, and instead depend on reflectors to soften the shadows.
3. Background light : They are traditionally known as backlight, rim light, or shoulder light. Generally, they are placed behind the subject, either on one side or the other. Their main function is to create a sense of separation between the foreground and the background. It separates the subject from the foreground to the background.
Just like the fill light, your background light should not overpower the key light. You can however use more than one background light depending on your needs. You can use colourful RGB lights as well. It will make the background pop in your photos.
Apart from these, there is something called hair light as well. It is relevant if you shoot a lot of portraits. It is also called a kicker or separation light as it creates a nice separation between the subject in the foreground to the background. One thing to remember about these is that you can afford to make these a little brighter than the key light or else it will get overpowered and won't do its desired job.
4 lighting tips to keep in mind
There are a few things you can keep in mind that will help you to improve your lighting setup.
1. Mind the front light : Many times, in the pursuit to light the subject in the foreground, photographers tend to over-emphasis the front light. It is especially true in case you have less experience. A strong and powerful front light will crush textures. It is a good option for portraits but beyond that, it should be used judiciously.
2. Utilise shadows : A well-lit environment is always desirable, but you need to embrace the shadows a little as well. It will give your photos that three-dimensional look. It is especially advisable if you aren't shooting portraits.
3. Avoid light spills : If you are lighting the subject in the foreground at an angle, there is a high probability there will be some light spills into the background. And this will create a huge problem if you want the background to be black. Due to light spills, it will look grayer.
4. Horses for courses : One thing to understand is that whilst the basics remain the same across every scenario, there are a few basic tweaks that you need to do depending on what you are shooting. You will utilise a different approach for lighting in the case of a portrait shoot and a different one in the case of a product shoot.
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