For this weeks Wednesday class we had to complete an exercise where we attempted to light a scene that looked like a darkened study. We ended up using a Dedo light to simulate the light coming from a lamp, by bouncing it off white core-board and cutting any of the excess spill light. Overall the lighting ended up looking quite realistic and also lit our actor Kerry quite well. After completing this exercise I became interested in how other people attempt to light dark scenes for film, so naturally I consulted Youtube. From here I acquired a number of tips for lighting a dark scene, that I intend to use within my own film projects outside of uni.

Tips for Lighting a Dark Scene:

  • Don’t bump up the ISO to compensate for lack of light as the image will get grainy.
  • Use a ‘fast’ lens that can stop down to a lower number, to maximise the amount of light hitting the sensor.
  • Rather than use direct light, bounce light off a wall, ceiling or other nearby surface. This will help you replicate ambient diffused light, thats often found in dimly lit situations with no strong light sources. If you want greater control of this bounce use a core-board or other movable object.
  • Bouncing light from a ceiling will create a down light effect, which often won’t simulate naturally found ambient light such as that from a window or under a door. So think about the ambient light your attempting to mimic, before choosing where you bounce the light from.
  • The colour of the object upon which you bounce the light will control the colour and intensity of the light.
  • You can add contrast to a darkly lit image by having your subject in front of a light coloured background, such as a white wall.
  • Add further contrast to the image by adding a dim fill light. Potentially using a blue gel to simulate moonlight, or a piece of brown cardboard for a more subdued fill light.

Until next time,

Louise Wilson