Light is the most important element in photography. Even the term it means "writing with light" or “Light Writing”. Light determines how your photographs will look. It will define texture and structure of your subject. Creative use of light will allow us to add three-dimensional feeling to the flat, two-dimensional world of the photographic medium. Even light it can be the subject of a photographic image. By understanding the impact of light, you will be able to have a more creative approach to your photography. The quality of light refers to direction, character of the source (directional or soft / diffused), and tonal value (color). Directional light of a bright, sunny day will bring out the texture and form of your subject. However, direct light will also increase contrast by enhancing bright highlights and deepening the shadows. It will define sharp edges in your images and produce a three-dimensional feeling to the image by creating the illusion of depth.

Getting the right amount of light, from the right direction, at the right time, has always been a fundamental concern of photographers. With natural light, the photographer must choose his viewpoint carefully, perhaps moving the subject or returning at another time of day or under different weather conditions, to take the best advantage of the lighting effects. Otherwise, the photographer must supply and control the light; and controlled lighting may be divided into three parts: key, fill, and effects.

Contrast is one of many things in photography that is easier to recognize than to define. One scene may have tremendous extremes of brightness, yet not seem particularly contrasty because there are no light and dark. Another may have quite a low overall brightness range, yet seem very contrasty because of dramatic juxtapositions of light and dark. In the transition to the final print, the scene with the long brightness range and low apparent contrast may benefit from rather more print contrast than the one with the short brightness range and high apparent contrast. The aesthetic side of contrast is something that can only be developed by practice, but the technical side is susceptible of rather easier control.

Three-point lighting is a standard method used in visual media such as video, film, still photography and computer-generated imagery. By using three separate positions, the photographer can illuminate the shot's subject (such as a person) however desired, while also controlling (or eliminating entirely) the shading and shadows produced by direct lighting.

A typical three point setup with a shoulder or back-side lamp to create contrast between the background and center object so as to give a three dimensional appearance

The key light is the first and usually most important light that a photographer, cinematographer, or other scene composer will use in a lighting setup. The purpose of the key light is to highlight the form and dimension of the subject. Many key lights may be placed in a scene to illuminate a moving subject at opportune moments. The key light can be "hard" (focused) or "soft" (diffused), and depending on the desired setup can be placed at different angles relative to the subject. When part of the most common setup—three-point lighting—the key light is placed at a 30–60° angle (with the

camera marking 0 degrees). In addition to the horizontal angle, the key light can be placed high or low producing different effects. The most common vertical position for the key light is at a 30° degree angle (i.e. slightly above the eye line; the nose should not cast a shadow on the lips) The key light does not have to directly illuminate the subject: it may pass through various filters, net, or reflectors. Light passing through tree leaves, window panes, and other obstacles can make a scene more visually interesting, as well as cue the audience to the location of the subject.

In television, film, stage, or photographic lighting, a fill light (often simply fill) may be used to reduce the contrast of a scene and provide some illumination for the areas of the image that are in shadow. A common lighting setup places the fill light on the lens axis, roughly perpendicular to the key light. The fill light is often softer and, by definition, less intense than the key light. The ratio between light and shadow depends on the desired effect. For example, a fill light that is a small fraction of the power of the key light will produce very high-contrast or low-key lighting, while filling with half or more of the key light power will produce a high key, low-contrast tone. An alternative to using a direct light source as a fill is to re-direct or "bounce" the key light towards the subject by using a reflector.

In the context of lighting design, backlighting refers to the process of illuminating the subject from the back. In other words, the lighting instrument and the viewer are facing towards each other, with the subject in between. This causes the edges of the subject to glow, while the other areas remain darker. The back light is sometimes called hair or shoulder light, because when lighting an actor or an actress, backlighting will cause the edges of his or her hair to glow if he or she has fuzzy hair. This gives an angelic halo type effect around the head. This is often used in order to show that the actor or actress so lit is "good" or "pure". In television this effect is often used in soap operas and has become something of a cliché of the genre. It is also sometimes called the kicker or rim light.

Note: If somebody asks about 4-point lighting then it will include on more additional light i.e BACKGROUND LIGHT The background light is used to illuminate the background area of a set. The background light will also provide separation between the subject and the background. In the standard 4-point lighting setup, the background light is placed last and is usually placed directly behind the subject and pointed at the background. In film, the background light is usually of lower intensity. More than one light could be used to light uniformly a background or alternatively to highlight points of interest. In video and television, the background light is usually of similar intensity to the key light because video cameras are less capable of handling high-contrast ratios. In order to provide much needed separation between subject and background, the background light will have a color filter, blue for example, which will make the foreground pop up.

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