In The Whys of Lighting, Mark explores the fundamental goals of lighting. By holding these in mind, we can make better lighting decisions. The Whys are: Exposure, Modelling, Depth, Mood, and Effect.
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- It's a common misconception that modern digital cameras are so good you don't need to do any lighting anymore. Now while it is possible to record images without doing any lighting, very rarely are we presented with a scene to photograph that is just perfect the way it is. Usually some kind of manipulation of the lighting is necessary both to effectively record the subject and to make it look as good as possible. The first why of lighting is exposure. At the most fundamental level, you need a certain amount of light to record images.
Just because there's enough light to see by doesn't necessarily mean there's enough light to film by. By the way, when I use the verb to film in this course, or anyone does anywhere anymore, it doesn't necessarily mean we're talking about shooting on film. Just as you can do theater in spaces that aren't theaters, you can film on other media besides film. I think of film as more of an art form than as an actual flexible medium covered in light sensitive emulsion. By the same token, when you're filming with your digital camera, you still say you're rolling even though your camera has no moving parts.
Nothing is actually rolling in there. Data is just being written on a memory card, but I digress. Just as film has a certain sensitivity or ASA, the chip in any digital camera is designed to perform best with a certain amount of light hitting it. We control the exposure of the whole image with the iris or f-stop of the lens. If there's not enough light to get an exposure with the lens all the way open, you can increase the sensitivity of the camera. But when you do this, the image can become noisy and ugly.
Sometimes we just need to add light to a scene to make it bright enough to photograph. Beyond exposure, we also use light for modeling. The quality of a light source and where we put it relative to a subject can have a strong effect on what the subject looks like. A light shone from right above the camera can flatten out a subject while the same light coming from the side can show the shape and reveal more the detail. The direction of a light reveals the shape of the subject and we can control the apparent shape of it by moving the light.
Along the same lines, lighting can also be used to create depth. It's always a challenge to simulate the three dimensional depth of reality in a flat video image. By using backlight, we can separate the subject from its background and make it more prominent. We can also light something in the deep background of a shot to draw the eye back, enhancing this feeling of depth. We also can light for mood. Lighting can effect the emotional impact of your imagery. An image that's very bright with all the shadows filled in is gonna have a much cheerier feeling than a dark, contrasty image with lots of shadowy mystery.
By being conscious of the effect different levels of shadow have, you can create the correct emotional tone for what you're shooting. The fifth why of lighting is effect. With lighting, we can completely change reality. You can shoot at night and make it look like day, or day and make it look like night. You can create the impression of an off-screen window where there is none, or simulate moonlight, fire, television, or any other environmental lighting source that fits what you're doing.
You can make an office look like a disco or vice versa. Though that goes a bit beyond the scope of this course. So those are the five basic reasons for film lighting. To have enough light to record an image. That's exposure. To show shape. Modeling. To create depth in a flat image. To suggest an emotional state or mood, and to create an effect or an illusion of a different time or place. There's obviously a lot more to it, but these are some of the basic concepts that I keep in mind when I'm lighting a scene. We'll get into the techniques we use to achieve them in the rest of this course.
In this course, Mark W. Gray teaches the fundamentals of portrait lighting, including standard three-point lighting setups, how to light for specific subjects, and how to deal with the challenges of location shooting. He shows you the effect of big and small lighting changes, including angle, intensity, and color temperature. He discusses the various types of lighting equipment available, providing both professional options and affordable options. Mark also demonstrates how to go beyond the standard setup to achieve a variety of outcomes.
- Lighting fundamentals including shape, quality, color, and direction
- Understanding when to implement specific lighting techniques
- Controlling the quality of light
- The basic 3-point lighting setup
- Shooting outdoors and controlling sunlight
- Understanding color temperature and making correct color choices
- Finding budget-friendly lighting solutions
- Staging your shots for maximum quality and minimum effort