Light and lighting – Basics


 Below is a brief introduction to light and lighting.

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Light can simply be defined as a natural product that helps the eyes to see.

  • Light is one of the most important things we can’t live or do without, it helps us to see details or full information of whatever is around us, be it  living thing or non living thing.

There are different types of light and light is majorly classified into two group, which is the natural light and artificial light.


Natural light can simply be defined as a God made light.

There two basic types of natural light which are the sun and the moon. Even the stars can be used as an example of natural light but they are not as strong and effective as the sun or the moon.


  • Sun
  • Moon


Artificial light can simply Be defined as a man-made light. This refers to a light that is designed, created and tested by man for a particular reason or purpose.

  • There are so many companies out there that are known for producing different kinds of lights and there are different types of artificial light out there which people buy everyday.


  • Light bulbs
  • Glow sticks
  • Candles
  • Torchlight
  • Fireworks
  • Lighter
  • Lamps
  • Christmas lights
  • Redhead light
  • LED light

And so many others out there.



There are so many definitions and explanations of lighting from different professionals across the world but in order to make it simple and easy;

Lighting is the art and science of manipulating or using lights in order to achieve a particular goal. 

  • Lighting is basically done in filmmaking, photography and in events.
  • It helps to beautify, bring out texture and add depth to things around us.
  • It plays a very big role in cinematography and photography. The camera  does 60% of the work while the application and manipulation of light does 40% of the work.

There are different lighting techniques which every photographer applies, we see the results on some pictures (Edited and unedited).

There are different filmmaking companies out there who also in the aspect of cinematography or production have their favourite lighting technique and style, such as paramount, DC, marvel, Disney world and so many others.

Introduction to light and light


There are so many types of lighting or lighting techniques for both cinematography and photography but there are three basic ones which involve the use of the key light, fill light and back light.

  • Key lighting
  • Fill lighting
  • Back lighting


 This is called key lighting because it involves a key light which is simply   the strongest and major light on set of a production.

The key light helps to show or bring out true texture. it can be placed on any side of the subject depending on what needs to be achieved. This technique is called key lighting.


This lighting technique involves the fill light which is a soft light that is placed opposite the key light in order to remove or reduce the harsh shadow that has been created by the key light.


This involves the use of the backlight which is placed behind the subject in order to separate him from the background. This lighting technique is known as back-lighting.

The other types of lighting are as follows;


This is the style of lighting that involves the use or manipulation of natural lights that appears on location. example; Bulb lights, TV light, lanterns or lamps. Sometimes these lights are intentionally fixed and arranged to achieve a goal or to set an atmosphere.


This is the style of lighting that is placed one side of the character making it brighter and the other side looking darker.

This is intentionally done to show the character’s shape and from one side creating depth. It is used to introduce characters in many cinematic films.


This is a very strong and harsh light that is placed on the subject or object casting a harsh shadow in order to capture the viewers attention  towards the character.

This lighting Technique creates a harsh shadow of the character or a silhouette effect. This lighting is not done most of the time but is sometimes used for cinematic purposes.


This lighting technique is done by placing a very soft light in any direction towards the subject to reduce harsh shadows and to smoothen the subject’s skin bringing out his smooth texture. Soft light is used to beautify a scene during a production.


High key lighting is a lighting technique that is done to achieve clarity, making everything on set or in the scene bright without a single sign of shadow, it makes the picture sharp.

This style of lighting is usually used in different adverts on T V  and most especially in Zee world and Telemundo films.


As the name implies, it is the opposite of high key lighting. This is a low lighting style that creates a darker look  withing the characters’s environment in order to create a horror or romantic atmosphere.

it creates suspense too by making the audience wonder or try to figure out something in a particular scene.


This is the style of lighting that is done by using artificial lights to create the natural light texture or look of mainly the sun and the moon.

it is used to replace or emulate natural light and how it operates.


This type of lighting deals with making good use of  any natural on set light that appears on the location in order to support the shooting and beautify the character’s environment.

This light can be a street light, billboard light, sign board lights and can be the sun or the moon.


This is a lighting technique that is done by bouncing or reflecting light from a strong light source on the character or location in order to make it bright, clean and balanced.

Reflectors and ceilings are mostly used to spread light everywhere or to a particular direction .


  • One of the major importance of lighting is that it helps to set the mood and atmosphere of a scene be it a romantic scene, scary scene or action scene.
  • Lighting does a lot to cinematography and photography so it is good to understand lighting on it own as a course.


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