Camera Video Lights

Lighting a subject for video photography can be done in one of two ways, either with an on-camera light which is popular with reporters, or a three-point lighting system with a backlight, key light and fill light.

Lighting is used to 'light' a subject for the camera and illuminate a subject should there be insufficient natural light.

On-camera video lights

An on-camera light is useful when lighting is needed quickly or it is not possible to set up a three-point lighting system. They are light in weight, intense and sturdy. They can be used anywhere in any location and are able to produce well-lit videos. They are also used in photographing wildlife and can be used to decrease the contrast between light and shadow.

However, small camera lights can create a harsh light and hard shadow edge and will enhance every feature of the subject's face. Most camera mounted lights sit in the centre above the lens so a hard light will glare into the eyes of the subject causing them to squint and create a 2 dimensional flat space when it should be 3 dimensional, which can be unflattering. A piece of material across the front of the light will soften and spread the light. Offsetting the camera will also minimise the harshness of the centre-mounted light.

Some on-camera lights offer a very narrow output and others a wider coverage. Increasing the distance from the subject will reduce the harshness of the light. Balance the use of on-camera lights with ambient light and adjust the camera setting so the natural and camera light have matching exposures. Some on-camera lights have a dimmer control. Alternatively, it is possible to manipulate the balance using the camera-to-subject distance function.

Each on-camera light model differs in output colour that varies from tungsten-balances to daylight, and most lights include conversion filters that can adjust back to tungsten or daylight. Filters can be used for more than correction, and the colour may need to be adjusted slightly.

Three-point lighting

To use a three point lighting system for video production, you will need a backlight, a key light and a fill light.

The backlight is situated behind the subject and provides light on the head and shoulders. Its function is to separate the subject from the background. The key light is the main light and provides the dominant lighting for the subject. The fill light is a supporting light for the key light and mirrors the key light at a lower intensity, filling the shadows created by the key light.