Lighting – Learning The Basics

In most of my shoots I try to light the scene as best and as natural as possible while maintaining the look I’m going for

I usually turn off all the lights in the location, look where the natural light is hitting and work from there.

If the natural light is too dark I will then try to create more light making it as natural as I can

I also look to see what the practical lights in the location are doing

Do I need them on?

Are they helping the shoot or causing more hassle?

There is a lot to learn about lighting, it’s an art

There is also a lot of different style of lights….

Fresnels, LED, HMI, Kino Flo’s

I will go over some tips that works for me and hopefully helps a few people out

Lets get started!

Location Shooting

As I mentioned above, when you get to a location turn off the lights first and start from scratch.

Find out what works and what you need to add

Below is some behind the scenes of some scenes I set up

Just behind this arch way I hid my 1×1 Bi-Color K4000 panel

(a bi-color LED Panel from F&V)


In the corner of that same wall I hid a Z180 bi-color panel on the floor, inspired by the floor lights in the location before I turned them all off

(also a brand from F&V)


Then at the back of the room, the client liked her bird cages…

So I hid another Z180 facing up hitting the back of the cage while also creating a nice shadow


Then the floor in the room felt a bit flat so I lit the room with the Joker Bug from the same direction as the window

(Think the Joker Bug was an 800)

Creating a nice shadow on the floor creating some shape


I left my RED Scarlet powered up to quickly go back and view what was happening on camera


Here is what it was looking like when I nearly finished

You can see on camera left I also hid another 1×1 panel in the hall at the back

I felt the wall needing some shape as it felt a bit flat

I made that one a bit more tungsten to separate that the light source is coming from the hall


I was going to light through the window but the property back there wasn’t part of the location

Lighting From Memory

Sometimes when you are just relaxing, you pick up on what Natural lighting looks like

from winter to summer just in your living room

So on a typical dull English winter I wanted to create a sun set in my living room

See the dull light below:


Now the same day but using my Rayzr 7 300B Light

It’s a LED Fresnel Light equivalent to a 750w Arri Light

It is also bi-color

Allowing you to change the light temperature from 5600 Daylight Kelvin to 3200 Tungsten Kelvin


Before bi-color lights, to change the temperature from a 5600k Daylight balanced light

You would have to put a CTO (Orange) Gel on the light, changing it to 3200k

For a 3200k Tungsten balanced light, you would have to put a CTB (Blue) Gel on the light

Making it a 5600K Daylight balance

Here are some behind the scenes of this set up:


Here are a few more examples of creating sunset looks with this light:

Natural light from the window & practicals


Now with the light set up


Here is a behind the scenes set up for the scene


As you can see in the picture above I cut out some blind shapes

This gives me a look of sun shinning through the window that has blinds up

You can get black card from any fabric/craft store

I got mine in Hobby Craft

You can also cut out leafs/tree type shapes to create another look

Maybe add a fan & place it by the card

This will give the illusion of a tree outside with wind

Here is a video version of everything above:

Creating A Moody Look

Sometimes a piece needs a less natural look

Something a bit moody

Lots of music videos or dark dramas use shards of light coming through windows

To create this look you do need a powerful light

Something like a 4K HMI

You also need a Hazer to help shape the light beams coming through

Below I tried to create a similar look using the Rayzr 7 300B and a can of Haze

Here are some behind the scenes pics of the set up


Bounce. Diffusion. Negative Fill

As I mentioned at the start and in my 1st video in this page

There are many ways to light

These are some of the most common ways to use light

The techniques can also be used with direct sunlight outside

Negative Fill:

Using black card as Negative fill to get rid of sun or shape the light with more control


Using bounce or a reflector to bounce sun back on your subject if you are shooting into the light


Using diffusion from the Sun

Sometimes the camera settings can be spot on

But if the light is too harsh on the subject, diffusion is great to make it more flattering and softer

Using this technique inside is the same

Throwing the light on walls or ceilings is a good way to light to room without direct lighting talent or objects


Pointing the light on a bounce card or sheets is another way to do this


Diffusion the light with diffusion or cheap sheets is a nice way to soften light on the subject


With the two above

I don’t recommend doing this with anything other then LED Lights

Otherwise the power and HEAT from the light will BURN straight through the sheets and cause more damage

Time & Budget For Lighting

Sometimes you don’t get time or the budget to light well

So owning a few LED panels can go a long way for some quick set ups



If you don’t get time to scout the location

Try and find out what lighting is like before travelling up to the location from pictures online or from the client

Then you should know what you will need to bring

If you don’t own or use LED lights, running anything powerful may be tricky

As this is when Generators come into play

Do you need a Generator ?

Can I place a Generator anywhere and will it cause audio issues?

Sometimes shooting Cafe’s/Restaurants might have separate power so ask that in advance



So depending on the piece..

Using LED Lights come in very handy


Panels are great for quick set ups and subject lights

I use F&V K400 Bi-Color and Z180 for smaller hidden places


I also use Rayzr 7 300B for light shaping and creating more stylised looks with more control


Hope this helps some people out

My Gear!

My Main Camera (Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6K)

B Camera (Panasonic GH5)

C Camera (Sony A6500) –

Favorite Lens (Sigma art 18-35mm 1.8) –

2nd Favorite Lens (Sigma art 50mm 1.4) –

Gimbal (Beholder/Ikan MS1) –

Lav Mic Kit (Sennheiser EW100 G3) –

Boom Mic (Sennheiser MKH 416) –

Camera Slider (Kessler Crane Stealth) –

Tripod (Sachtler ACEL) –

Lighting (Rayzr 300B) –

Lighting (F&V LED K4000B) –

Filters (Formatt Hi-tech IRND) –

Storage / Hardrives (G-Technology)  –

Editing Software (Adobe Premiere Pro CC) –

My Computer (Apple iMac 27inch 2010) –


Music –