May 3, 2015

lighting cinematiographyblog

This week we’re going through lots of lighting setups, focusing on the way that we can use lighting to tell a story.


In the second part of the ‘Storytelling with Cinematography’ series, we’re taking a deeper look at the different aspects of lighting, and how they affect an audience. Stay tuned for the rest of the series, where we’ll


cinematography storytelling


PART 1: Looking at the deeper meaning behind cinematography choices, starting with framing and composition.



lenses blog


PART 3: How can we use lenses creatively? This week we’re looking at depth of field, focal length, field of view and aesthetics.



camera movement blog


PART 4: How can we use sliders, jibs and tripods creatively?



visual storytelling


VISUAL STORYTELLING: Looking at the ways we can tell a story visually, rather than always relying on dialogue to explain things.





al5280Aputure HR 672S al5280 Aputure HR 672S
al5280Aputure HR 672C  al5280Aputure HR 672C
fast flagsWestcott Fast Flags 24×36 fast flagsWestcott Fast Flags 24×36
c-standKupo C-Stand Kit cstandKupo C-Stand
lightstand3x Lightweight Light Stand lightstand3x Lightweight Light Stand
swivelManfrotto Swivel Head swivelManfrotto Swivel Head
reflector5-in-1 Reflector (43″)  reflector5-in-1 Reflector (43″)



setup1 lyse
SETUP1 BTSHere I used just one light, the Aputure HR 672S and literally hid it in the cross beams of the roof. I then rigged up the diffusion panel from a 5-in-1 reflector with the help of a C-Stand. The results are a fairly soft light that also has a lot of direction, meaning that the background stays nice and dark.


setup2 lysesetup2 BTS

For this setup I had two Aputure LEDs side by side for maximum power, and then a diffusion panel from the Westcott Fast Flags Kit to soften the light. I was able to position the flag as close as possible for maximum softness by rigging it on a C-Stand. As someone who’s used the round diffusion panels from 5-in-1 reflectors a lot, the Fast Flags are so much easier and more precise to position.

setup4 lyse

setup4 BTS
This night scene is based off a relatively strong backlight (labelled ‘1’ on the picture above) which is fairly common as far as light placement for night scenes. Lighting from the front in night scenes generally makes it look quite ‘lit’. Backlighting lets us keep most of the scene in near darkness, and is motivated by the detail in the background (thanks to the light labelled ‘2’). The light on the leaves in the background really helps sell the backlighting, while revealing the full outline of our silhouette. The last thing we want is a solid black background, which tends to make things look as if they’re shot in a photography studio.


This is part one of a three part series which demonstrates so much about lighting. I honestly cannot recommend this video enough, I love how detailed it is. The other two parts can be found on their channel.

I’d encourage you to look out for how motivated the light is in this montage. Deakins has a brilliant way of making the light work for the emotion of a scene, while still being fully justified and motivated.

This really does demonstrate the power of light placement. It’s amazing to see how different she looks with even a subtle change in the lighting.


Simon Cade

Filmmaker, and host of DSLRguide. Since I was making my first film age 11, I have always been fascinated by the way films are produced, and the effect it can have on the audience.

  • Nur

    Great job with the tutorials.

  • Aray

    Keep up the great job!
    Thanks for this and keep the tutorials coming.

  • Gal Ziv

    You great, keep bring more stuff on lightining

  • BakerBrotherTV

    I’ve decided to buy a shower curtain to act as a light flag. It should be a lot cheaper than the $200 kit.

  • Pingback: The Essentials of Motivated Lighting for Cinematography — Westcott University()

  • leo_oz

    Thanks for sharing! Could you please let me know which focal lengths you used for the different setups?

  • CaptainScao

    Awesome stuff, could you tell me how you are not getting any noise at all? We were filming at night, the only light source was the street light, what lens were you using?

    • CaptainScao

      And that’s without editing