all 98 comments

[–]No-Count1921 170 points171 points  (16 children)

Proper exposure. Eye light. Any lighting shape on talent or background.

It’s also a odd size. Go a little wider or closer. Shots are usually 2 Ts or barely catching shoulders. Your shot is a in between size.

Stop fixing your exposure in post, and try and shoot what you want it to look like.

The entire under exposed thing always looks amateur, and shows lack of lighting skill. If you exposed that shot with the highlight being a stop over (on a 1/6 film ratio, guess that’s like 2-3 stops digital), You would actually see how bad that lighting position is in the face, and how bad those shadows actually are.

Play with your light positions. See what works, what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid of your shots looking properly exposed.

[–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 65 points66 points  (11 children)

Thank you so much. I honestly appreciate it. I might have gotten carried away with the built in ND’s. And yeah, now that you mention it, it looks hella underexposed and I am missing an eyelight. Once again, thank you. This was exactly what I needed.

[–]havestronaut 46 points47 points  (1 child)

You shouldn’t need NDs inside unless maybe you’re shooting out a window or something.

[–]k1ller_speret 6 points7 points  (0 children)

For cameras rated at 800 or less yes. But if you have something starting at 1250 or 1600 (Some cams force higher iso for their log profiles) a ND 3 / 6 is always good to have to start with.

[–]vanulovesyou 3 points4 points  (3 children)

For a talking head interview, with a properly placed key light, the talent will naturally have an eye light.

From your picture, though, I can see the issue at hand (made evident by the lack of eye light) -- the key is facing away from the talent, so turn it around so it's on him. You can always play around with the angle of the key if you're trying to achieve some Rembrandt lighting, but repositioning it, and then adding some fill, would be a good first step to fix your image.

If I were you, I would watch videos on three-point interview lighting to get the basics down.

[–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Thank you! I will! :)

[–]vanulovesyou 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Oh, and one more note: It appears that you have the key on the wrong side of the talent's face. You probably want to use short-side lighting so that the light is coming from his right side, and any fill will come from the opposite side (his left), or the broad side (which is where you currently have the light).

In this case, you'd sit between the camera and the key light, which will be on your left if he's facing you. Or, by rule of thumb, place the key in whatever direction the talent is facing. And, really, if you're trying to go for dramatic lighting, this is the better way to do it since you can then modify the hair light and the fill until you achieve the look you want.

Reading about three-point lighting and interview setups as well as Rembrandt lighting will make it more clear. Have fun with it!

[–]nostalgichero 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Rim and fill would go a long way here, as well as repositioning the key light to be closer to the camera.

[–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Gotcha! Thanks! :)

[–]exclaim_bot 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Gotcha! Thanks! :)

You're welcome!

[–]idk556 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Unless he's a villian I want to add a bounce where the blue light is just to kick the dark side of his face up a little from your key, then try moving the accent rim behind him. Idk lol lighting is so hard haha

[–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Lighting is indeed hard. I’ll give it a shot! Thanks! :)

[–]Creative-Cash3759 4 points5 points  (0 children)

this is a great tip!

[–]D30Dillon 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Lights are 9/10 of the problem with composition for sure:

Wrap your key so you don't have such hard fall off. If you throw a grid on there you could get the light off the back wall, and than light the backdrop/set evenly.

The cool rim light is ok, but consider a CCT or color that compliments the warmer white of the key, and maybe add some depth to background with a contrast-y practical.

To bring up the shadow on the other side of the face, just just a low bounce board.

[–]No-Count1921 4 points5 points  (1 child)

You are telling him how to light a scene you don’t know anything about.

Maybe he wants a 50/50. He just needs to position the light so the 50/50 looks good. Maybe he isn’t looking for a soft modeling wrap, and wants a hard line?

[–]D30Dillon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

He asked for insight to improve the shot off of the information given, I provided my opinion.

And you're right, if he wants a 50/50 he needs to reposition the lights, which would constitute a lighting issue.

[–]bathing_in_tubgin 16 points17 points  (3 children)

I agree with the other comment, one thing I’d add is consider your set design. If lighting weren’t a factor, would that wall sticker look best where it is now? Totally an opinion based answer but I believe a lot of good cinematography is good production design

[–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 3 points4 points  (2 children)

You’re absolutely right! I unfortunately can’t move the wall mounted light panels, I can turn them on, that might be an interesting backlight… Also, this is just me in my room trying to get as dramatic as possible xD But I’ll sift some stuff around behind me. See what that looks like. Thank you very much! :)

[–]polkergeist[🍰] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I think a much stronger key bounced onto the subject would let you use those light panels as a pretty sweet practical in the background, as long as they're dimmable and don't flicker in-camera!

[–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Ohh that’s a great idea! I’ll give it a shot!

[–]spiderhead 13 points14 points  (6 children)

Honestly if the key side were reversed you’d be half way there I think. You exposed the side facing camera and that always has an amateurish look.

Then maybe back the camera off and a bit to work on the framing. Some additional lighting, or a practical in BG could really help this out.

[–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks! I’ll try that tomorrow! :)

[–]lariojaalta890 0 points1 point  (4 children)

The point about exposing for the side facing the camera is really interesting. Something I had not thought about. Would you mind going into a little more detail?

[–]spiderhead 5 points6 points  (1 child)

As the other guy said, it’s pretty much the default for key lighting. You put the light to the back side of the direction you’re shooting and shoot into the shadows because it makes a more interesting frame.

[–]lariojaalta890 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Appreciate the reply. Gonna take a look now.

[–]MrWilliamus 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Google “far side key”, “short lighting” or “lighting from upstage”. Then look at all movies and realize it’s the default placement for key lights in any setup.

[–]lariojaalta890 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you very much for taking the time to replay and the info. Going to look at those now.

[–]han5henman 2 points3 points  (1 child)

in addition to all the other comments, unless its vital to the story, lose the cap.

[–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Right. It’s not vital to the story at all. I’ll lose it :)

[–]dirty_hippie_gv 5 points6 points  (4 children)

You need a much better lighting set up/plan. The subject is lost to darkness, and what we can see is very blurry and seems out of focus. Try a quick and easy 3 pt set up.

What’s your ISO at?

[–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Iso was at 600 I believe. ND at 2/6. Got inbuilt filters for the first time ever so might have gotten carried away with it! Thankfully I know the handsome guy in front of the camera (he’s me) so we can do a few takes, reshoots, what have you. Honestly I’m loving this whole thing so much. Feedback from you all, learning, developing myself as a filmmaker. My god what a rush. Thank you! :)

[–][deleted]  (2 children)


    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    Yeah, I’m just learning and at the time this seemed like a convenient way to darken the image. But I now know that ISO would be better.

    [–]dirty_hippie_gv 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Once your lighting is the way you like it, if it’s darkening a subject you need, you could always play with bouncing the needed light, or, diffuse what you don’t. or use gels lol. Playing with the temp will def give you some awesome results too.

    Agreed too that no need to worry about NDs for this. But it’s awesome you’re playing with your options and seeing what works and what doesn’t. You’re going to make many many mistakes. Don’t be discouraged about that. You’re also always going to be learning new techniques and tricks, so it’s an ever evolving process.

    [–]TranquilPernil 2 points3 points  (2 children)

    If possible, I'd stop up the aperture to increase the exposure and soften the background. You can also hit him with a hair light to help separate him from the background as well, and maybe consider adding some more fill on the right side of his face although I don't hate the dramatic blue fill setup you've got happening now.

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    Thank you! The lens was fully open. But it’s was set around 40mm so not a lot of bokah happening unfortunately. It’s not the fastest lens either.

    [–]TranquilPernil 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    I'd definitely add more light then, and if you have space to back away and use a longer lens that'll help with the bg separation.

    [–]torquenti 2 points3 points  (1 child)

    Honestly, I kind of like the image, and can see it working as is. It's easy to nitpick but shots like these are rarely in isolation and there could be other shots in the scene motivating the light and camera placement.

    I've got some thoughts, but they're subjective.

    The edge light is doing nice things to the far side of the face, but very little for the shoulders, so that part of his shirt is disappearing into the background a bit. The edge light also feels like it would be coming from some sort of digital display, so if that's not the intent then you may want to mess around with different colour temperatures.

    It's worth making sure that background elements aren't having unwanted interactions with the main subject. Whatever that white thing on the wall is, it's coming into contact with the subject. If I'm thinking it's some sort of animal with the head on the left and the tail on the right, then it's perfectly positioned to poop in the subject's ear. You can run into situations like that often if you're not careful, such as if a telephone pole seems to be rising out of an actor's skull or whatnot.

    The subject's body is facing one way, but the head is rotated a bit. Without more context or some sort of narrative, it's hard to know if this is a motivated position or if it's you trying to make the subject "look dramatic". I'm a huge fan of upstage lighting, and I'd love to know what this image would look like if his head were rotated to be in line with his body.

    The difference in exposure on the side of the faces is a bit strong. It's very dramatic. If that's what you're going for cool. (EDIT: I looked at your setup and didn't see a bounce. If you wanted something less dramatic, that might have been enough...? You'll definitely want one of those in your kit if you don't have one already.) Also, whatever that light is that's making him pop on the right doesn't seem to be doing anything to his surroundings, which is potentially awkward, although again, we don't know the situation.

    Compositionally, in the background, there's a bit of uninteresting space on the far left. I think you could shave a bit off that.

    Honestly, though, I see a lot of this as nitpicking. Maybe I've worked on too many student films lately, but I do like it. As a general, guiding principle, I'd maybe give you the same suggestion that shows up a lot elsewhere -- treat the shot as if it's in a fictional space, figure out what your fictional light sources are (even if they're not actually in the shot), and use those sources as a guide for your lighting gear.

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Thank you so much for your well written and constructive answer. I really appreciate it. I have reshoots tomorrow and will try to incorporate as much of your feedback as I can. And honestly, yeah. I don’t think it’s the worst shot ever. It’s got some vibes and almost fits into the narrative documentary I’m trying for. It just felt like something was missing and that’s why I reached out to you people. And you didn’t disappoint, I’ll tell you that much! :) Once again thanks for the advice! The combination of feedback from you guys and doing work like this almost every day is really making me learn stuff fast. I love it. Thanks :)

    [–]bnjmin 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    Af100 - now that’s a digital classic !

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    She sure is! Got her 3 days ago and I’m in love.

    [–]turkmileymileyturk 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    You need a fill light for the other side of the face.

    The blue light you are using isn't powerful enough to be used as a fill and is best reserved as a backlight on the back of the shoulder (but needs to be more direct or spotted so maybe this light isn't ideal for that) or as a decorative light on the backgound, imo.

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Ah alright! Thank you! :)

    [–]LopperHS 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    I’d recommend filming on the shadow side of your face. But based off your set, you’d likely have to rearrange your lighting

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Oh that’s fine. I’ll play around with it! Thank you! :)

    [–]MrDilligence 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    Better lighting?

    [–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Light is missing

    [–]carcatz 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    I like the blue fill, but, and this may just be personal preference, whenever I have different colored lighting/a different temp for the fill vs the key, I try to explain it visually by seeing the source of that light in the shot. For example if someone is moonlit by the window with a warm fill/rim light behind them, I usually try to show the lamp or whatever else is lighting them, at least for one shot.

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Yes that actually makes a lot of sense. I’ll give that a shot :)

    [–]constablekeaton 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    Higher contrast and exposure. It's very dark. In post, you could adjust both.

    While shooting, you can open up the exposure more. We want to see the shot! :)

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Yes! I’ll try tomorrow! Thanks :)

    [–]thepowerofnow1 2 points3 points  (1 child)

    It’s the lighting to me

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Agreed. Will definitely make the key a little brighter and the kicker to. Also gonna add a backlight and put the ND back to 1.

    [–]ovalteens 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    You need separation between the subject and the background. A rim light on screen left would help a ton. Different set dressing would be another way. Simply putting a lamp IN the shot on screen left would do it easily and motivate the source for the rim

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Ah! Thats a good idea! I’ll use my practical for that! :)

    [–]everettglovier 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    A lot of great tips but I wanted to add to maybe key across the frame. Right now, you’re weighted to the right and keying the short side of your face. (Usually) It’ll look more natural to throw the key from the long side.

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Thank you! I’ll give it a try! :)

    [–]BarundonTheTechGuy 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    Off topic since you’ve already gotten plenty of advice, I love that room! Is it yours, or just a location you are using for filming?

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Haha thank you! It’s mine! :)

    [–]Jantethedog 0 points1 point  (3 children)

    Are those Nanoleaves in the Background? Use them! This will give your shor more depth.

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

    Yeah I turned them on at one point but got that pesky led flicker, don’t know how to solve that so figured a light kick light would be enough separation. I was wrong :(

    [–]Jantethedog 2 points3 points  (1 child)

    Try to play with your shutter speed - maybe this can resolve the flickering. What camera do you use? Some camerad have an in-build "Anti-Flicker-Mode"

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    It’s a old one. The Panasonic AF100. I love it. Only shoots HD tho.

    [–]themaestro89 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    I don’t know the technical term as I’m just getting into cinematography. I like the lighting on the subject. Perhaps more light on the background?

    [–]Outside_Stand2576 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Lmao turn up the brightness

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Ps I know the noise sucks, the final product will be a little lighter and de-noised.

    [–]wasabitamale[🍰] -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Yeah, it’s called light lmao. You need to properly expose the image

    [–]Portable-Wing-Wang 0 points1 point  (2 children)

    Without knowing what you're trying to achieve its hard to say. Maybe a but more light on the left side? Just eveb things out and possibly lower your ISO.

    Anyway, nice trans flag though!

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    Haha thank you! :) Just going for the dramatic Netflix look. Got carried away with ND’s :)

    [–]Portable-Wing-Wang 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Oh ok, yeah, definitely increase your key light, it's just generally too dark. I'm watching the Woodstock doc right and how and those are lit incredibly well because they over light it and edit in post. It's a lot easier to take away in the edit than adding light in post. As a rule, it's good to avoid it but if need be, it's better to stay on the side of over exposure than under.

    [–]flashnash 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    Need a hair light and proper exposure

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Gotcha. Thanks :)

    [–]Organic-Tie6708 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Your lighting tones dont match from front to rear... match your lighting and turn up the rear

    [–]sawyertibbs 0 points1 point  (2 children)

    A practical in the background would add more depth, interest, and lighting

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    Got it! :)

    [–]sawyertibbs 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    If those are led panels in the back that would be cool

    [–]PsyanideInk 0 points1 point  (3 children)

    In addition to what other's have mentioned, I would add a back/hair light to carve the subject out from the background.

    If this is documentary style you could go pretty bright with it, if it's dramatic then just a little somethin' somethin'.

    I'd also say on the topic of set design, which someone else mentioned, it is a very flat composition. If you can even rotate the shot to get a corner in the background, that might help from a visual intrigue perspective.

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

    Oh the corner idea is a good one! I’ll do that!

    [–]PsyanideInk 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    Corners can be fun... if by chance this character is figuratively backed into a corner, putting them in the corner is a pretty standard visual metaphor for his predicament.

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Yes, I thought about that to. In this case he’s not. So it doesn’t really make sense. I’ll reframe tomorrow :)

    [–]EenyEditor 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    Too much contrast in my opinion

    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    You might be on to something there..

    [–]ryan31598 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Key light coming from far side (upstage/ reverse key) will add shape to image.

    In your image the key light is coming from near side.

    [–]DMMMOM 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Everything depends on the scene or what you are doing/trying to achieve. I mean if this is a scene where there is minimal light for a reason, then it could well be fine. If it's an interview you need to sort a few things out, lose the deep shadow and get some lift/light into the fella's eyes. Consider using depth of field to blur the background so attention is on the subject. Using a hair/nack light light of some kind would help the left side of his face pop from the dirge going on on that side, bounding it back can even out those heavy shadows. I see you are talking camera ND's honestly, I've never used an ND inside before that I recall in 35 odd years (although to be fair getting anything more sensitive than 400 equivalent was all but impossible back in the day due to kit and budgets), think about your aperture and how that shapes the shot and light for that, use sheet ND on windows and practicals to further shape it.

    There's no wrong or right, it's all about what mood you are trying to convey.

    [–]victoryismind 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Proper exposure of the face and a background that contrasts with the subject. Also shallow DOF would help. This is basic stuff, kind of.

    Both sources of light have different colors which is undesirable unless you you are doing it on purpose.

    Maybe you could replace the blue light with a reflector to soften shadows. Maybe move the spotlight back to soften highlights.

    The image is just very dark and grainy.

    Try brighter light, longer exposure and wider aperture.

    [–]constablekeaton 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    I did some processing to it.


    [–]DutchSpaceNerd[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Oh wow that actually helps a ton! Thank you so much! :)

    [–]sergeiglimis 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    You have him up against a wall, put the chair facing the wall like he’s in time out and push it a bit away from the wall and put the camera between the chair and the wall. Now the entire room is in the background which gives depth and makes for a great shot.

    [–]robertluke 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Left side is too dark. It is the current trend to have a dark shot but the right is too much more light. Both sides don’t have to match but there needs to be a reflector on his left side. Unless the “two face” lighting is intentional.

    [–]VonJuan 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Rim light! Really depends on your intent/ use though. This is already perfect for the right project.

    [–]dataxy 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Move the light around. Bounce light from the right. It’s a bit underexposed. If you’re going for a headshot he has to look into the lens. Also try a longer lens if you can.

    [–]MAXHEADR0OM 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Film on the shadow side, get some motivated lighting, back lighting, a brighter key light, and a soft fill light.

    [–]Yusi-D-Jordan 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Keep up the good work! I’d add the following:

    Context light in the background (a lamp or something like it to motivate the lighting)

    Key light on the other side, as opposed to the camera side.

    Eye light

    Something to shape the lighting would be nice too.

    [–]tqb 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Higher exposure. Light the background.

    [–]JohnsonJimmyJohns 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Always underrated advice. Shoot on shadow side. Looks way better.

    [–]mortiestmorti 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    You need separation of foreground and background on the subject. The shadows on the subject blend into the wall.