Expertise for Lumen Beings: 3-point lighting

Video streaming, photo shoots, film shoots – everyone sees immediately: there are professionals or amateurs at work. But what makes the difference? Is it the camera? Usually not, because even with a mobile phone you can already send very usable streams, take videos or pictures. Typically, it’s the light – the lighting, the way you put a person in the right light. The effect of good lighting is usually underestimated because most of what we see is registered and evaluated in the subconscious. It is a fraction of a second in which the judgement sympathetic – unsympathetic is made. We would like to explain here how we put a person in the right light with the common 3-point illumination.

1. Point – Guide Light / Key Light

Since the beginning, humans have seen their surroundings in the course of the sun. In the morning and evening, we feel most comfortable with the warm colour of light. We also take advantage of this in artificial lighting. On the one hand, we use a warm colour temperature such as 3200K to express well-being. On the other hand, we position a main spotlight at an angle of 45° height and 45° sideways to the illuminated person or object or to the camera, which more or less corresponds to the angle of the sun in the morning or afternoon within our latitudes. We call this light guide light or key light. For this we usually use a Fresnel light like the Cameo F2 T. With its light and 45° positioning, the face is given profile. To ensure that the sensor of a camera or video camera receives enough light, a light intensity of approx. 500 lux on the illuminated person has proven to be effective.     

2. Point – Fill Light

With the Key Light alone, however, we get strong shadows on the nose or the eye sockets as well as under the hair and on the neck. We now want to lighten these a little without erasing the profile created by the Key Light. To do this, we use a fill light or a soft light like the Cameo S4IP. In contrast to the guide light, with the fill light you need a large illuminated area and very diffuse light. With the soft light of the Cameo Softlight S4IP, all the cast shadows of the guide light are lightened and even the shadows under the small strands of hair disappear. We position the Cameo S4IP on the other side of the camera at 45° so that the Key Light and Softlight are at 90° and the camera between them at 45° each.  In the vertical axis you can position the light quietly between 15° and 60°. The brightness ratio between the key light and the fill-in light should be such that the cast shadows of the key light disappear, but the profile of the key light is still maintained. As a general rule, one can assume 50% of the guide light or one f-stop less. As an alternative to the Cameo S4IP softlight, a Cameo F2 can also be used with the optional Cameo SNAPBAG® SOFTBOX accessory. With the foldable Snapbag® softbox attachment for F-series spotlights, a large diffuse lighting area is realised for brightening, just as with the softlight.

3. Point – Back Light

Now we have illuminated the person or object correctly, but a camera image is two-dimensional. To make the illuminated person stand out from the background, we resort to an optical trick. We create a corona of light around the body by illuminating it with a backlight coming steeply from above. The back light, also known as the highlight or back light, is opposite the leading light. Again, we use a Fresnel like the Cameo F2 T. With this light cast, the illuminated person now detaches from the background. The light intensity can be half to twice as strong as the guide light, depending on how much you want to stand out from the background.

Voila and we have conjured up a professional three-point illumination and stand out professionally from productions with simple room lighting.

A good guiding light is achieved with the Cameo F2 Fresnel lens. If you want the light to be even harder, or to work out facial wrinkles even more strongly, a profile spotlight with a harder light such as the Cameo P2 is also suitable.
For the brightening light, the largest possible light surface with diffuse radiation characteristics is required, such as the Softlight S4 IP from Cameo. The backlight is optimally implemented with the Cameo level F2. For the right height of the spotlights, the light stands from Gravity are ideal. The right power connection is ensured by the Adam Hall Cables. So everything comes from one source and ensures a perfectly coordinated shot.

The following products were used:

1x S4 IP
LED Softlight Panel – IP65
2x F2 T
LED Tungsten Fresnel-Spotlight

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