Lighting Tutorial: Basic Single-Light Techniques

Introductions to basic lighting don’t get much simpler or better than this. You could call it Lighting 101, and whether that light is coming from a window or an artificial light source, the info here qualifies as “must know basics” for anybody with a camera in hand.

The video was put together by YouTube channel Film Riot, and while it’s aimed squarely at videographers, it’s quickly making the rounds on the photography Web because of how applicable these techniques are and how well Ryan Connolly manages to explain them. From broad, to short, to side, to backlight, to Rembrandt lighting and beyond, several of the most popular one-light orientations are covered.

Each style is quickly demonstrated and paired with examples from famous films to really drive home the technique and show you what it looks like in practice.

You can see an example of Rembrandt lighting on Edward Norton’s face in this screen from the movie Fight Club.

Beyond one-light setups, they also dive into fill lighting and (more applicable to film, but still useful) cross lighting two subjects facing one another. There’s also a brief mention of how to separate your subject from the background, but, of course, we already covered that this month.

If you’re a lighting expert, this video probably won’t contain any new information, but you might find some inspiration in the clips Connolly uses to illustrate his point. If, on the other hand, you’re a novice, this is about the quickest introduction to basic lighting techniques you’ll find online.

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