3 Point Lighting

Lighting 101

3 Point lighting

3 Point lighting is the standard definition of lighting setup for photgraphic work. There are actually normally 4 lights defined, but only 3 of them are on your subject (that is illuminating your subject).

Key light # 1 or # 2, are used in the primary lighting format wanted, see out previous article 7 Single Key Light Patterns; Then the other Key light is used as a fill light. The relative intensity of the 2 Key lights is the lighting ratio. Normally you start at 2:1 ratio till you get familiar and use to working with this.

The back light or hair light is used to illumuniate the back of the head or person, which increases the separation and the backdrop light is to give a lighting effect behind the subject of the wall or backdrop behind. Some lights are not used in some situations again according to the effect desired.

That is very simply the lighting setup, then people move and add lights according to the effect they are trying to achieve. And the lights are changed according the effect desired and often according to the equipment available. The lights can also be adjusted for height and position as well as intensity. Reflectors, gabos, and surfaces are aded to achieve different results. The props such as chairs and sofas and the like are also added. It is perfectly normal also to consider natural light from a window or even through a hole to act like a window to produce different results.

4 Point Lighting
4 Point Lighting

Often photograpahers will utilise the natural lighting to get these effects as well. So they will put the setting sun behind a subject, then fill their face with a light source such as a strobe or a reflector. Spot metering the subjects face to ensure it is a good exposure and trying different things till they get the effect they want. The difference experience makes is that this process is faster! 😉

There are many resources available on the internet to teach you now the details, however these basics are what you need to have in your mind to understand them and what they are doing! I will share some resources that I have found good to study and enjoy yourself. Lighting is as much about using what you have available and the tools are just that tools for putting the light where you want to have it or to get the effect you are wanting to have.

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