How To Light a Scene

This week we have learnt about lighting but in a more detail. We looked at the 4 major features of film lighting. These were: Quality, Direction, Source and Colour. We then looked back at 3 Point Lighting in more depth.


First of all, we looked at the some of the problems of lighting. Here they are as follows:

  • Too Bright/Too Low – Sometimes, the light is not adjusted properly. It can be too bright too dark.
  • Wrong reflectors – If you use the wrong reflectors, for example in a scene you don’t want gold but you do use it, it will not look like you wanted it to be. So using the right reflector for the right shot is very important.
  • Filmed the wrong day – If for example you want to use natural light as your main source, doing it when its cloudy for example will not be beneficial as it is not what you want the scene to look like.
  • Light Temperature – If the wrong light temperature is used, this could mean that your final product runs the risk of turning blue or orange. So to solve this, you would have to use the Auto White Balance function which will be explained later in the blog.

How did I use Lighting in my previous work? The problems I had and how I solved it?

I have used lighting in a few different things:

Hallo Project: I thought of using low-key lighting for my Hallo Project as mine was based on the Terminator films which uses low-key lighting so that people think that The Terminator (me) is a dangerous person. I also used the natural light as I was filming in corridors.

The problem which I had although, was that the light inside the corridor in the last 30 seconds, was not how I wanted it to be. I was meant to have some of the lights turned off, so that there are some shadows as I walk through the corridor to give that frightening effect as I walk in.

To solve it, even though I wanted it like this, was to change the colours to black and white, so that there is some kind of threatening sense as I walk in the door. This solved the problem in some ways even though the it was still bright with the black and white colour.

Reflectors: I have used reflectors in some of the practicals which I did. It was mostly for the fill light when we did 3 Point Lighting.

White balance: I have used white balance more for the practicals than the Projects. We had to take pics using the different colour temperatures to see the difference.

Uses of Light

Light has many uses for many different reasons:

  • Illumination – It simply lights things up so that we can see clearer

Christ's Birth In A Stable

Weavings, 2017

  • Mood – Depending on the light being used, it can represent a different emotion to understand more about someone’s feelings.


Combi Boilers Leeds, No Date

  • Guide our attention – We as humans, are attracted to things that are lit
  • Texture and Shape – there are 2 types of shadow ( Attached and Cast)


Computer, 2013

4 Major Features of Film Lighting

The first feature of Film Lighting is:


Hard Light

Hard light you can clearly see the shadows. You get light and dark areas in objects that are shown with hard light


Behance, 2014

Soft Light

This is where there is diffused illumination. The shadows are not as clear than when using hard light. There is more of a softer shadow indirect lighting on the object.


A Richardson Photo, No date

Harsh Light

Harsh Light is where there are extreme difference between light and dark areas. They usually appear brighter.


Tasia Menaro, 2013

The next feature is:


There are many directions to position the light to. Here they are as followed:

  • Frontal Light – It is positioned in front of the subject


Jcatibogdmu, 2012

  • Side Light – Positioned on the side, left or right


Reel Deal Film School, 2015

  • Back Light – Positioned at the back


LinkedIn, 2016

  • Under Light – Positioned under someone, below the head most commonly


Mr Williams 987, 2010

  • Top Light – Positioned above the subject


Study Film, No Date

The 3rd feature for film lighting is


The source is the light, as this is what lights other objects. The 2 sources of light which we all know are:

  • Artificial Light – these lights include bulbs, glow sticks, diodes and other man-made light sources.
  • Natural Light – These include sunlight, moonlight, fire and other naturally occuring lights


Pixc, 2017


DV User, 2016

The last feature for film lighting is:


Color is important in lighting. If for example you want to take a picture of something, but that the colour is red, then you would have to choose the appropriate light function which appears blue to balance it out. Or you can you Auto White Balance to make life much easier.

  • Apparent Colour – This is the colour that is observed by human eyes
  • Colour Temperature – This is colour based on the equivalent temperature against a plain, black background. It is represented in K Degrees, which stands for ‘Kelvin’

White Balance

The colour of the light affects the colours when taking pictures. You probably won’t notice this with the naked eye because our minds adapt very quickly to perceive the colour of the light as neutral, even when it’s not.

The camera is less forgiving, and records colours exactly as they are. That’s why pictures taken under household lighting have an orange colour cast, and pictures taken at dusk or dawn have a cold, blue look.

To help solve this problem, cameras nowadays have ‘Auto White Balance’ function which helps us to balance the colours. For example, without the AWB function, if the colour appears orange, when activating this function, this will boost the blue to produce a much clearer picture.


Tech Radar, No Date

Key Point Lighting

Key point lighting is when you use 3 lights in 3 different positions. The 3 types are: Key Light, Fill Light and Back Light.

Key Light

This is the main source of light. It is the brightest out of the 3, which ‘strikes’ a subject from a camera’s point of view. It provides a really good modelling by highlighting the shape and contours of the subject

It is placed to one side of the subject so that this side is well lit and the other half has some shadow. It provides hard light, like from the sun on a very clear day.


Media College, No Date

Fill Light

Fill Light is positioned on the opposite side to the Key Light. This can reflect light from the environment. it is used to fill shadows which are created by the Key Light. The fill will usually be softer light and less bright than the Key Light. It also casts soft indistinct shadows. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘highlight’ as it is often used to give a highlight to an actor’s hair.


Media College, No Date

Back Light

The back light is placed behind the subject and lights it from the read. Rather than providing direct lighting, instead it provides subtle highlights around the subject’s outlines. This will help to separate the subject from the background itself and gives more of a 3 dimensional look rather than a 2 dimensional one.


Media College, No Date



Key Words King, No Date

In this example, taken from Amelie Poulain. In this shot there is the use of 3 Point Lighting. The pink Arrow is Fill Light, The blue arrow is Key Light and the green light is back light

Key Light – Key light is used on the right side of Amelie Poulain to light this side of her face.

Fill Light – The fill light is positioned on the right side to remove some of the shadow so that can partly see the other half of her face. Although, there are still some shadows on this half. This could mean that she feels some kind of sadness, or that she is worried about something. If there was not as much shadow being used, the emotion that the audience used would not have been right.

Back Light – Back light is used to create the outlines so that we can see it more detailed. If the back light was not there, she would have looked different and the way she feels could have been quite different.

Film Noir/Low-Key Light

In Film Noir, there is a minimal use of fill lights to create Low Key lighting. In Film Noir, they used low-key lighting to create harsh shadows and to contrast black and white.

Importance of Lighting

Light in itself, is responsible for significant effects in each scene. Light can draw attention to specific areas of interest and create amazing effects by its interplay with the dark areas. It can give depth to a scene while also bringing out texture and detail in settings, decorations and clothing.

Qualities of Light

High Key lighting indicates a brightly lit scene with few shadows as the light is very intense. Low key lighting moves more towards the greyer and darker scale. Because this is where there is a good amount of shadows and also where the key light is not as bright and is not the dominated light.

High Contrast lighting is where there is a strong contrast between light and shadow. It also has a small of in-between grey scale.

Light can either be hard:

Hard Light – It clearly illuminates areas, sharply outlines and illuminates characters which brings out texture and detail. It separates light and shadows.

Hard light gives a crisp, defined appearance and casts a sharp clearly defined shadow.

When hard light is used, to illuminate a face, imperfection is the skin stands out, to make them look less flattering.

Or it can be soft:

Soft Light – it covers a much wider area with a more diffused light. It diminishes the outline and clarity of characters. It also minimises the shadows.

It tends to hide detail, so the surface carving is nearly impossible to see.

Lighting Faces

Lighting affects the look of a character, to define or to diminish the facial characteristics of someone and to make their face look attractive or unattractive.

An example of this is in the first Spider Man Film,

Side Lighting

Side Lighting can model the face and bring out more detail if angled carefully. It can also highlight only one half of the face and leave the other half in shadow which could represent bewilderment for example. It can also be used for 2 sided or mysterious personality. It can also be used to create a sinister effect, which is commonly used in many movies.


Premium Beat, No Date

In this shot from the film ‘James Bond:Casino Royale’ in the beginning of the film. In this shot, you can see that there is 2 side, one that is brighter than the other. This could show his humorous side on the bright side, as he likes gambling, he loves his job etc… but that on the darker side, he is someone who can’t be trusted. So using side light shows that he could have a 2-sided personality.

Top and Bottom Lighting

Top Lighting creates deep shadows on the eye sockets and under the nose, which can be threatening. Bottom Lighting shadows and distorts the face to make it appear sinister or evil.


Premium Beat, No Date

In this shot, you can clearly see that light comes from above and nothing else. We can see it because the top of their heads are brighter than the rest of their body. There is also deep shadows on their face.


Palimpsest, 2014

In this shot, bottom lighting is used to give this more sinister effect. As you can see, his face is slightly distorted because the harsh shadows that are imposed on him to create that sinister effect.

Styles Of Lighting

There are 2 general schools in cinematography that have been referred to as naturalism’ and ‘pictorialism’. The first favours of key light that seems to come from a source in the scene or from a naural outside source. The second favours any placement of the key light that gives the most striking visual image.

3 Point Lighting Task

This week we did a practical, where we had to use 3 Point Lighting using artificial light and natural light using a reflector and LED lights to help us with it. We had to take 8 photos, 4 which were inside and 4 whiwsch were outside. The ones inside, we had to take with key light, one with fill light, one with back light and one with all 3 of them.


This was the first one we took. We only used key light for this shot as we were told to. because only key light is being used, it was very effective when the photo was taken. The left half of Elisa’s face was well lit.


In this one, we used the reflector to bounce off the light on the other half of Elisa’s face and to reduce the shadows so that we can use it as a fill light.


This time, the backlight is introduced into the shot. We can clearly see the outline around her shoulders, that we could not clearly see in the recent pictures.


This time,we used all 3 of them on Lydia this time. We can definitely see that the whole frame is nice and clear. You can clearly see that the key light is used, the reflector is used because of that golden patch on the right side of her face and the back light as we can see the outline.

We then went outside to use the sun’s light as our key light. There were some problems to this which is explained below.


This was the first shot we took using the sun’s light as the key light. As you can see, one side as clearly lit by the light and the other has shadows


We then used back light. Although, we cant really see the outlines as it is outside, and the sin’s light is more powerful than the LED light.


For this one, we used to reflector to try and bounce off the light, but did not see to work as well, so it ended up looking nearly the same the picture above.


Finally, we tried to use all 3, but it did not turn out how we wanted it to be because the backlight was not very efficient and the reflector also was not as good because it didn’t bounce as much light

Overall, I think this task helped us to see what effect does it give when we only use of the lights. If we use one, it could tell the audience a different message to what that person feels for example. It also shows how much work has to be put into this to get the lighting 100% perfect as well as differentiating between using natural light and artificial light.

Analysing 3 images based on lighting and colour

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)


Screen Rant, No Date

This shot comes from Dawn Of The Planet of the Apes. I thought this was a good shot because it uses natural light and maybe some artificial light, to light up Ceasar’s face. Although the light on this photo looks bright, the expression on his face looks menacing. Although Natural Light is used, 3 Point Lighting is still being used. You can clearly see that his face is detailed and clear, meaning that there is a Key Light. The soft light on the other side is used because we do not see as much shadows on the other half of his face.Top Lighting could also have been used slightly as there is some form of shadow around his eyes. which makes him look threatening. The colours of this shot were probably tweaked a bit more to give a more crisp detail in the background. There isn’t much shadow being used in this shot, but it still gives you an effect that he is threatening by the dominant colours which are black, white and red. Although the colours are bright, this could mean that he is not as threatening as we all think, but that he is just warning the others that danger could arrive if something is not done.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)


Trapword, No Date

This shot is taken from Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2.In this particular shot, 3 Point Lighting is also being used in this shot. Key Light is used, this time on the left side of Harry Potter as you can it on the photo. There is soft light being used, but the light itself for it is very dim, to keep that shadow on the other half. Back Light is used in this to show the outline. Although there shadow in the left  side of his face, there is still a bright side on his right, which could mean that he might not truly die after all, that there is still hopeThe colours used in this makes the atmosphere darker. Because this scene is seconds before his death, the colours in that shot really creates the atmosphere of fate and that darkness takes over. It is mostly blue kind of colour, which could represent sadness, that Harry will die in the hands of Voldemort. Most of the light is focused on him, so that the audience are drawn on him. But the rest of light reaches behind him to show the forest. The bruises on his face clearly shows that he has had a very tough day, because he was in the middle of a battle in Hogwarts.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)


Milners Blog, 2016

This shot is taken From Star Wars Rogue One, which came out in December 2016. This shot is particularly striking in terms of how mysterious he is positioned. The way the lighting is used in this shot is very well done. There are glimpses of shadows around his cloak and his face. Top light is probably being used in this shot than the 3 point lighting. This is because we do not see his face being brightly lit on one side of his face. Top light could have been used to create shadows on his face, to make it look menacing. Back light has also probably been used, as in the background, there is the planet, so in real, back light must have been used to see the outline to bring out that detail around his cloak. The colours used in this shot is very effective. We can clearly see the white fr0om his clothes, and the colour of his skin, that they have both been  made a bit darker to show the audience his darker side of him.

Lighting Task

For the visual task, we had to choose one photo of our favourite film from those that have analysed and reproduce it in terms of the lighting being used and to get it close to the real photo.


Milners Blog, 2016

I thought of choosing Krennic from Star Wars Rogue One because of the lighting being used which I thought would be quite easy to reproduce. I had to make sure that the lighting on both LD lights we used, were soft as Krennic does not receive hard light, otherwise there wouldn’t be that many shadows. So I had to use soft light on both to try and get this shadow on the body and the face. This was the result to the best photo taken that is comparable to this one:


From all the photos taken to try and get it as close to Krennic’s photo in terms of lighting. I thought this worked well as there is that shadow on my face, but not too much, so that it does not fully hide part of my face. There is a good soft light on the rest of the body, which is also really good. The things which I think could be better if I had to do it again, would be to add an extra soft light on the left side so that my left-side of my face is lit up a bit. By doing this, it will hopefully work better this time as there are 3 ‘soft’ light. The other thing I would also add is a back light, to get a back light as well so that I can get the outlines, as in this one, it is not very clear.  I wanted to use a diffuser gel in front of the light, to soften the the beam to reduce the intensity of the light. This worked effectively as you can see on the photo. I thought of using a diffuser because I thought that it could have been used for Krennic’s photo.

Social Media Analysis

For week 3, this time, I had a few more feedbacks which was better. Here they are as follows:



From this positive feedback, it clearly tells me that I have done quite well in the audio pratical that I have done. She didn’t hear any background noises which is really good to hear. If there was no improvement she talked about, then it means that I have done a really good job on it in terms of the editing and the recording themselves.


By reading this, I think he liked the final product which I have made. He liked the way I have fitted the music with the Narrator’s last few words which fitted perfectly apparently. He said that I timed it just right. He also tells me the things which he thinks I should improve on. One of the things I should improve on is the transition between the ambient sound and the narration. I should add a fade effect at the end, because without it, it was too sudden. By putting a fade effect at the end of the ambient sound, it will make people think as to what is happening.


A Richardson Photo, No Date, Available at:, Accessed on

Behance, 2014, Available at:, Accessed on 23/01/2017

Combi Boilers Leeds, No Date, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2017

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DV User, No Date, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2017

Jcatibogdmu, 2012, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2016

LinkedIn, No Date, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2016

Milners Blog, 2016, Available at:, Accessed on 26/01/2017

Media College, No Date, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2017

Mr Williams 987, 2010, Available at:, Accessed on 24/01/2017

No Film School, No Date, Avaiable at:, Accessed on 25/01/2017

Palimpest, 2014, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2017

Premium beat, No date, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2017

Pixc, No Date, Available at:, Accessed on 26/01/2017


Tasiamenaro,2013, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2016

Reel Deal Film School, 2015, Available at:, Accessed on

Screen Rant, No Date, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2017

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Techradar, No Date, Available at:, Accessed on 24/01/2016

Trap Word, 2011, Available at:, Accessed on 26/01/2017

Weavings, 2012, Available at:, Accessed on 25/01/2017