How to Create Shafts of Light for Photo and Video

We have all seen the amazing and dramatic images that have shafts of light streaming through a window. The look seems really easy to reproduce. You buy a fog machine, fill a room with smoke and create amazing images. But like most thing in life, it’s not that simple.  In this video we see some key points in how to really make this look work.


1. Atmosphere

The first thing you need is atmosphere. This can come from a variety of sources such as dust, steam, smoke, or a fog machine. The point here is that you need something in the air for the light to reflect off of.

2. Angle of light

Like most lighting scenarios, the angle of light plays a key role. The best way to see the light reflecting off the atmosphere in the air is to have the light pointed toward the camera at about a 45 degree angle. Also, the closer you have your light to the subject, the more the shafts of light will become apparent.

3. Quality of light

In order to get the shaft of light, it’s best to have a hard focused light. When you have a large spread of light, you get a lot of light bouncing around the atmosphere, which just leaves you with a hazy image. When you focus the light, you get that nice stream of light we are after.

4. Shaping the light

This is a good way to focus your light and also a way to create multiple streaks of light from the same source. There are a ton of way to shape light; such as windows, leaves and branches, and even homemade flags. Anything that will cut the light down into nice stream.

Have you ever used this technique? What have you done to get the best results? Share your work in the comments.


Log in or register to post comments
1 Comment
JAZZY's Photography®'s picture

Awesome article