When researching lighting as a whole, I found many examples and descriptions of the term itself. I chose to post other scholar term definitions here to reflect back on.

Yale University: The intensity, direction, and quality of lighting have a profound effect on the way an image is perceived. Light affects the way colors are rendered, both in terms of hue and depth, and can focus attention on particular elements of the composition. Much like movement in the cinema, the history of lighting technology is intrisically linked to the history of film style. Most mainstream films rely on the three-point lighting style, and its genre variations. Other films, for example documentaries and realist cinema, rely on natural light to create a sense of authenticity.

Studentnet: Lighting plays an important part in creating the atmosphere in a film. The amount of light and the direction of the light source can give meaning to the viewer of the film. For example, lighting is used to indicate the time of the day.

EICAR International Film and Television School Paris: The use of various light sources, both artificial and natural, to achieve some aesthetic or practical effect while illuminating a scene.

Dictionary.comthe act of igniting or illuminating; the arrangement of lights to achieve particular effects:

Structure of Essay

The structure of my essay is not really easy to write on the blog.

The way I go about writing my essay is a make a mind map, highlighting particular topics that interest me and jot down notes. I then gather all my information and write paragraphs at a time finding research along the way. I tend to use the internet a lot and over consumption of film viewing as well as peer reviewed articles and journals from the RMIT library.

I hope to start my essay based on these topics

  • the emotions of lighting
  • how lighting alters and reflects how we think and feel
  • how lighting is important
  • film examples
  • lighting techniques
  • etc.

Issues of Investigation

Lighting can be a fairly tricky topic in terms of investigation. For one I noticed people have different names for certain lighting techniques and two it defiantly reflects on personal emotions which some viewers may not feel the same way.

For example: Red lighting can be seen as a horror, blood, creepy representation, but to others it can just be seen as a strong, bold colour creating the visuals of “dominance”. This can be seen in advertising as well.

I think for lighting there are many issues, I can talk about the techniques and I can talk about the emotions, or I can simply just talk about how I feel watching a particular scene and how lighting is reflected on it. But you see the issue with this is this essay is not a reflection on my own emotions, it’s an overall reflection on lighting as a whole and how these emotions and representations are perceived.

So, I hope through research and further development I can find some interesting information.


Methodology – Why I chose lighting

I chose lighting because I believe this is a key component in film development. It can change and alter the way we see things, which I feel can impact the entire film itself.

I hope to explore in more depth lighting through my essay as I know not only through techniques and representation, lighting can effect emotion as well.

Through further development of lighting I may use examples from filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, as he uses backlighting, harsh lighting and internal lighting such as lamps etc to the extreme and Wes Anderson, as I believe he uses colour to enhance his lighting and changes the way we see and feel them.

Methodology – Lighting Techniques

There are many types of lighting techniques used in film that impacts the way the characters and the setting are represented, and here are a few examples.

Backlighting, where the main source of light comes from behind the character. This can create a very mysterious mood. Commonly seen in horror films and detective/crime shows to enhance the use of shadows.


Cameo Lighting, also known as a spotlight. This is where only one light from above or highlights a single person. Which I’m sure most of you have seen in the intro to Mr Bean.

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Natural Lighting. It’s a common technique that filmmakers use in order to be as realistic as possible. It is this particular lighting I wish to look deep into as it can come across in many ways as positive and negative depending on the structure of the film. The clip in my previous post from “Shawshank Redemption” is a great example of this natural lighting.


Methodology – Shawshank Redemption

This particular clip shows various lighting techniques. From the audiences perspective the only light source seems to be coming from the single window above in Andy Dufrenes cell.

The light is very harsh through the window and creates a very hard back light on the warden. This lighting as I mentioned before in my other posts is commonly used in horror and crime films, as it can be a rather intense and dramatic view on the character.

The wardens character himself is considered hard and tough so this lighting fits perfectly in his characters. When we look at the lighting positioned to the other characters it is very bright and well lit with a slight shadow from the corner. This lighting can create a sense of vulnerability as each of the officers are conflicted and are unsure of the problem.

Methodology – Black and White Lighting vs Colour Film Lighting

This here to me is a topic that I could explore in more depth. Its something that people consider hard to see which is better than the other.

Yes, black and white is amazing for shadow use and mystery. Using the example of the film Psycho things can be interpreted in many ways, but then again they used music as a way to enhance these image responses.

psycho images janet-leigh-shower-scene-psycho


Colour films was a revolution in my eyes to the world of lighting. You can use coloured lighting and you can use bright colours to depict happiness and dark to depict the opposite. Sometimes they can do the complete opposite and use bright colours and had images, it’s a way to mess with the audiences minds. Sometimes even natural lighting can change the way it is all perceived. But yes, I think this is something very useful to explore in my essay for the future.

wes-anderson-15 grande-hotel-budapeste


The images I have places above are all from Wes Anderson films. Anderson is an artist when it comes to colour palettes and lighting. My favourite of the images is the woman in yellow. Yellow in terms of colour is considered a happy colour and very positive yet her body language and emotions indicate the opposite. Also if you look into more detail she has a small window behind her head with natural lighting depicting daylight, yet she has two lamps on in her room. Small things like these interest me, which i hope to explore.

I think Wes Anderson has a lot of lighting techniques I hope to use as examples for my film essay. Especially Moonrise Kingdom, where most of it is filmed outdoors.



Methodology – Why an Essay, you say?

To me making films as a learning experiment and for educational purposes just doesn’t seem fun anymore.

Doing TAFE for 3 years of constant practical work I just felt in my final semester it would be good to test my skills at writing an essay. I came into this degree for one purpose to get better at my analytical thinking and observation skills. Ive started taking a book to each film I go and see and just write my thoughts as the film is being played and then at the end of the film critiquing it. It gives me a better understanding on how I overall felt and that way I can review my opinions at a later date

I learnt so much during practical work though filming, sound, editing, motion, visual effects, lighting, staging that it has just become very repetitive and I found that going out on my own, to research my own information has given me a chance to explore a topic in more depth.

It is here I hope to help myself in this learning curve and understand my own writing as well as improve on it as well. It’s a big task I’m going here as I have now ended up with 4 final essays to end my university education. In terms of further study, haha I guess this is just mentally preparing myself for thesis writing.

Methodology – First Thoughts

When someone asks me “what’s the first thing I think of when I hear lighting?” I think of the opening shot of the Mr bean TV show, not the cartoon the original.

It begins with a spotlight on him so bright you can only see his character and nothing else in the background. This particular technique was used as a way to show the object or the main character to the audience. In this instance mr bean is the main objective.


Methodology – Differences

Can lighting effect our mood? Previously I researched how lighting can alter our emotional response. I think that lighting in an image can defiantly do this. The lighter the image may be the happier and more positive. The other way round with darker images, to the audiences perspective can be seen as scary and unknown which can cause uncertainty in how their overall response should be.

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