5 Lighting Techniques for Dark and Moody Cinematography

Though many shots are properly exposed from corner to corner, there are times where you want a darker scene, particularly if you're simulating nighttime. Here are five techniques for doing just that.

Lighting is crucial to good photography and cinematography, and being able to create varied setups is important. In this video, Aputure takes you through a behind-the-scenes video shoot and explains all of the lighting decisions as they are made. As you will see, objective number one, no matter how you plan on lighting your scene, is to control the light. That often means taking away natural light or the real lights being used in a space and replacing them with your own lights, which rather confusingly, will mimic the original lights but in a more controlled way.

I love shooting darker, moodier looks and I usually have to do it during the daytime. I do this in much the same way the shoot in this video does it: I reduce all artificial and natural light coming into my scene, and then I relight the scene with a blue hue. The nighttime often looks blue to our eyes, even if it isn't, and that's perpetuated by cinema. From that tonal basis, I will start adding in different lights to flesh the scene out. It's great to see videos like this that show cinematographers doing it on a more comprehensive basis, but don't be put off by the amount of equipment being used or the value of it; this can be done with much less.

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T Van's picture

A couple sticks of incense nearby will create just enough smoke to add some additional atmosphere and make it even moodier.

Dave McDermott's picture

Very interesting to see the different types of lights used.