Film Light Studio Reflections – Weeks 1 & 2

My aspirations for this studio are to be able to understand what it is exactly that I want when lighting a shot, and then to be able to practically implement and realise it.

I want to be able to be able to understand the theoretical and abstract concepts regarding cinematography, as this will help me in the creative sense, and then to learn all the technical knowledge and logistics that must be learned to achieve it. I currently feel as though I am lacking in technical and practical film experience, mainly in the cinematography department, and I hope that this studio will help me overcome my anxieties and shortcomings with cinematography.

The classes in the first week were exactly what I was hoping for in this studio. I enjoyed how we started off just learning how to manipulate natural light, as beginning from this perspective feels a lot more natural and lays a solid foundation into understanding light.

I also like the balance between practical and theory so far. I found the analysis of various scenes and how they were lit to be very informative and eye-opening in many instances and I hope we continue to dissect how scenes are lit.

The interview exercise that we did in the first class was a good introduction into thinking about natural light and how to be resourceful and to use what there is around you. I feel like we did the exercise without putting much deliberate thought into how we wanted to light the shot, instead going more off instincts and what looked nice to our eyes. It was interesting to be able to go through what other groups shot and to break down how their shots were lit.

Then after going through everyone else’s shots it made me want to put more thought into how I light and compose a shot, to try to consider everything.

In this scene from In the Mood for Love, the lighting is very expressive.

The key light shines on Maggie Cheung’s face, coming in from screen right. It covers most of her face flatteringly, but leaves some deep shadows on the side of her face. It appears to be soft light as there are no hard shadows coming from her eyelashes or under her nose. Something that makes the light behave slightly different from a completely conventional shot is that Maggie Cheung’s face is at an angle that is almost in profile but slightly off. This angle allows for the light to wrap around most of her face and for the fill side of her face to be relegated to a smaller area.

Tony Leung’s face is more softly lit, much darker, and the light wraps around his face much more evenly and with less contrast than Maggie Cheung’s face.

The colours of the light are all very warm, making striking uses of deep reds and oranges.

There is a narrow lens being used in this shot, as you can see by how shallow the depth of field is.   


In this painting Cardsharps by Caravaggio we can see a main light source coming in from the left and going to the right of the painting. This strongly illuminates the men on the left and the right, while the man in the back’s face is less affected by the light as he is blocked slightly from the source by the man on the left. Therefore, the man in the background’s face is much more evenly lit as the main light source does not directly hit him like it does the other two. The man on the left having a strong key to fill ratio and the man on the right, being in profile, we are only able to see the side of his face that is lit by the main light source.

There is also an emphasis on where the light is placed on the hands, the man on the right’s left hand is exposed and lit clearly in the middle of the painting, while his other right hand that he uses to deceive the other man is tucked away behind his back, with less light on his right hand, and shadows mainly covering it.

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