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Digital Literacy Concepts: Lighting

Information about concepts related to digital literacy.

Three-Point Lighting

Three-point lighting

A three-point lighting setup can add greater depth and dimensionality to your image by using light and shadow to highlight your subject and make them stand out from the background. A good lighting setup can give a three-dimensional appearance to a two-dimensional image.


Light Sources

As the name suggests, three-point lighting setups comprise three important lights of different types: the key lightfill light, and back light. Although not every situation will require all three for adequate lighting, including each of the following lights will allow for the most consistency and flexibility. 


Key Light

This is the primary and brightest light cast on your subject. The key light is typically placed at the side of the camera at a 45-degree angle. You can achieve a variety of lighting styles by experimenting with the key light in different locations, angles, and heights.


Fill Light

This is typically 50-75% less bright than the key light. The fill light is typically placed on the opposite side of the camera from the key light and is used to fill in the shadow created by the key light on your subject. You can adjust how much light it throws by moving the light further from or closer to your subject. The fill light should not create a second shadow from your subject. If you see a second shadow, the fill light is too bright and needs to be adjusted.


Back Light

This is used to add definition and highlight the outline of your subject, creating a three-dimensional appearance within the two-dimensional surface of the image. The back light separates your subject from its background. It is typically placed behind and above your subject at a 45-degree angle.

Three-point lighting set-up