Lighting – Revisited

Standard directions of light:

  • Rembrant (45 degree light)
  • Side lighting
  • Top lighting
  • Back lighting
  • Rim lighting
  • Front lighting

Lighting qualities: 

  • Hard – Casts strong, well defined shadows. When hitting a textured surface at an angle, hard light will accentuate the textures and details in an object.
  • Soft –  This refers to light that tends to “wrap” around objects, casting diffuse shadows with soft edges. Soft light is when a light source is large relative to the subject.

Other terms:

  • Broadside – A pattern the shadows the rear.
  • Shorts side – The shadowed side of the face is closest to the camera.
  • Key – The main light to the subject.
  • Fill – Used to defuse the key light.
  • High key – Reduces the light ratio.
  • Low key –  Used to show off dark colours and shadows.
  • Motivated lighting – Light such as a lamp to create intentional light on the subject.
  • Cold – Blue tones that make the shot look cooler
  • Warm – Orange tones to create a warmer and open feel to the shot.
  • Bounce – Used to bounce the light to show the highlights of the subject.



Backlighting is the term used for lighting behind the subject. The light gives the subject a glow around their head.  The angle of the light can vary from below the back of the subject, directly behind or above. Backlighting is usually used to create a dramatic effect on the subject. The light casts a shadow on the eyes and mouth, this makes the character look mysterious, not allowing the audience to read the features. Another technique used in back lighting is bouncing the light off the floor, this makes the light more contrasting and this then bounces off to the camera creating lens flares for other effects.



Top lighting

Top light is where a light is placed above the subject creating shadows and blocking out main features. In three point lighting it is used to defuse the key light to give a softer feel, it is also used for the illusion of daylight.



About kaylalaisby

My names Kayla and I'm a film student. And this is my blog. This is where I will be posting short films, music, photographs and other inspiring things to help me on my current college course. Enjoy!
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