Three Basic Lighting Techniques That Apply to Anything

Lighting is equal parts art and science. The science part often comes in understanding how different surfaces absorb and reflect light and how that impacts the setup you'll require. This great video shows you three general situations and the unique considerations you must make in each of them to properly light your subject.

Reflective, transparent, and neutral surfaces all behave differently when light strikes them, and as such, it's important to understand these properties so you can design your lighting appropriately to match them. In this helpful tutorial from Director and Cinematographer Matthew Rosen, you'll learn about the three types of surfaces and be given good general guidelines for how to light each of them properly. The key really comes down to understanding incident and reflected light and the idea of absorption. Once you can read what type of surface you're working with, understanding the basics of how to light it is simple. While this won't show you the finer details of how to light for all the shadows, highlights, contouring, etc., it will give you a firm basis that will allow you to read how the rays will interact with your specific subject and devise the lighting.

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2 Comments
Indy Thomas's picture

Great video with a solid explanation of the basics. Great starting point for the photographer to begin their own exploration.

benpearse's picture

That's a very cool explanation