The Standard Three Light Setup Used In Photography
A three light setup is the standard used
in photography to give the photographer as much control over the
illumination of their subject as they need.
By using three separate lighting positions the photographer can control
or eliminate shading and shadows produced by direct lighting. The three
light setup is also used as the standard in other disciplines
as well...such as video, film and some computer generated imagery.
The Key light is the main light that
shines directly toward your subject. This light serves as your main
illuminator. It’s direction, angle, strength and colour determine the
shot’s overall lighting effect.
When shooting indoors, the key light can be a specialised lamp or even
the camera’s flash. When outside, the key light is usually the Sun.
Although this type of lighting is a little bit harder to control.
The Fill light is a secondary light and
also shines on the subject. This light is usually setup at the opposite
side from the key light and sometimes slightly lower…usually at the
same level as the subject’s face.
It works alongside the key light by illuminating shaded areas caused by
the key light or other lighting. It can add contrast and creative
shading across the subject’s face. The fill light is also usually
softer than the key light and less bright.
You can also use a reflector as a fill light if you are working in a
tight space or on a budget. The reflector can be used to alter the
lighting quickly during shooting by simply moving the angle slightly as
the pictures are taken.
The Back light, or Separation
light as it is sometimes referred to, shines on the
subject from behind. It is usually place to one side or the other and
is used for lighting a subjects’ hair or shoulders. This hepls to
separate them from the background and also for highlighting contours