Using Popular Television to Boost Your Knowledge of Classic Lighting

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A Guest post by Luke Townsend.

Rembrant Collage.jpg

With the ever growing presence of online photo sharing sites like flickr and facebook, amateurs and professionals alike are bombarded with millions of images every day to observe and study.  Photographic masters such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Yousuf Karsh, and Steven Meisel have, for years, been creating iconic images that photographers of all levels have used to study and compare lighting techniques.  It does make sense for a photographer to study photographs to help heighten their knowledge however, taking a more cinematic approach can prove to be not only beneficial but well, relaxing at the same time.  

It’s time to put down the photographs, grab a snack, the remote, and snuggle up in front of the television.  What do I mean?  The entertainment of keeping your eyes glued to the tube for hours on end can often times keep you distracted from noticing the basic lighting patterns that you’re so quick to notice when you pick up a picture, in fact when you start to notice the the different methods used you just might forget to pay attention to the plot.  Make sure you ask for a TiVo for Christmas if you catch my drift.

What to Look For

Classic lighting patterns that photographers of all experience should know have trickled down through world of ancient art, since the days of Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Leonardo Da Vinci.  As we move through the popular TV shows House M.D., Mad Men, and an a blast from the past, Cheers, keep on the look out for the four classic lighting styles:  Short Light, Broad Light, Split Light, and Rembrandt Light.  

Short Light

Short light is when the main light illuminates the side of the face that is turned away from the camera.  In other words the side of the face that is closest to the camera (the broad side) is mostly in shadow and the nose is pointed towards the light.  This tends to be the most popular as it creates drama in a scene by emphasizing the contours of the face but also helps to thin out the face which is most flattering to subjects, especially in women.  

Short 13.jpg

In House M.D., you can see from these cell phone snaps, that doctor 13 (above) is filmed in short light quite often.  Notice how the part of her face that is closest to camera (the broad side) has less light hitting it, resulting in mostly shadow.  Also notice how it creates a thin appearance to her facial structure.  

Short House.jpg

The same applies to doctor Wilson (above) on the left as well as the example of doctor House and Wilson together outside.  Short light was used here to create the drama associated with the night time environment.  Take it a step further and you can see the addition of a separation light, common to studio lighting to give dimension to the subjects, separating them from the background.

S:R 7.jpg

In this dark, dramatic scene of the popular show Mad Men you can see creative director Don Draper (above) short lit as he sits in a dark corner of a restaurant where the presence of a single candle was used as a guide to where the light will shine.

S:R.jpg

Time warp back to 1986 and you can catch Cheers waitress Diane Chambers (above) being short lit at a restaurant where she ruins a nice weekend for bar owner Sam Malone.  Notice again the broad side of the face is mostly in shadow with a small patch of light.

Short Cheers.jpg

Jump forward a few seasons and you will see the new Cheers manager Rebecca Howe short lit.  In both examples you can also clearly recognize the appearance of separation lights outlining the actors figures.

Broad Light

Broad light is the exact opposite of short light where the main light illuminates the side of the face turned closest to the camera, hence the name broad.  Here the nose shadow is cast onto the short side and the nose is pointed opposite the direction of the main light.  You tend to see this light a lot in the fashion industry and is becoming more popular in the heavily cinematic shows.  It tends to add weight to the subject and allows you to see more of the face, which traditionally on a woman is considered to be less flattering.  

Broad House.jpg

You can see in these examples above of House M.D. where doctors Taub and Wilson are both board lit.  Notice how their noses are pointed away from the direction of the light where the most illuminated side of the face is closest to the camera.  As before notice the addition of the separation light opposite the main light helping to define the subject.

Broad MM Ch.jpg

In some instances you can associate this light as a “power” light, dominating the subject as is the case with Mad Mens Don Draper (above, right)  in the beginning of this scene and Cheers’ Sam Malone (above, left) as he awakes from a horrible nightmare.

Split Light

Split light is pretty self explanatory.  In short and broad lighting there is a visible patch of light on the shadow side of the face however, when the patch disappears and only half of the face is lit this is, as it’s name suggests, split light.  Split light is very dramatic and not used  often in portraiture however it has become more popular in film and television.  Some refer to it as the comic book villain light.

Split House.jpg

In House M.D., doctor House (above) is very often lit in this method due to his dramatic, vulgar attitude associated with his consistent lying and manipulative trickery.  Sounds like a comic book villain to me!

S 3.jpg

Mad Men’s Roger Sterling (above) is often seen in split light as well during these intense scenes due to the high stress job of being a partner at the SCDP Ad Agency.  The large foreboding shadows set the mood for the viewer.

Rembrandt Light

Rembrandt light, traditionally, is short light where the nose shadow connects with the cheek shadow creating a small triangle patch of light on the shadow side of the face.  Made famous by master Dutch painter himself, Rembrandt, you can see this effect in not only short but broad light as well.  Keep in mind that Rembrandt light can be both short and broad light but not all short and broad light is Rembrandt light.  HUH?  It’s simple.  If the nose shadow does NOT connect with the cheek shadow it’s NOT Rembrandt light.  Another classic rule to this technique is that the triangle patch of light should be no longer than the nose and no wider than the eye.  You can see in the example below all the images in this post that are also of Rembrandt light.  

Rembrant Collage.jpg

In Conclusion

Now that you’ve become more familiar with the four classic lighting techniques and how they’re used in every day popular television and not just photography, next time you plop yourself on the couch to watch your favorite show see if you can spot the different styles.  Keep a close eye on how they’re used in accordance to the environment and mood of the scene.  You might be surprised how often these common techniques show up, and with a little practice how easy they become to spot.  A super quick, fun, and affordable way to train your eye in lighting from the comfort of your own couch.

See more of Luke’s work at his website or Facebook page.

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  • interesting read – First let me shake your hand for the House mentions I love that show and I don’t care what anyone says about this season! 🙂

    Secondly I had no idea how much you could actually learn about photography by watching TV who needs photography school these days…. well I suppose it does help to know what you’re looking for ;0

    Regardless very nice post!

  • Aloha Lopez

    Nice article, very informative. I love how you use Dr.House as an example for split lighting.

  • ScottC

    Great article, I don’t watch much TV but I may never see what little I do the same way again.

    I’m not a portrait photographer, but I guess the same could work for other subjects.

    Maybe this is an example of short light? The darker side mostly faces the camera.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5606268384/

  • Hi

    This is a very interesting article. Learning basic lighting from examining TV is something I really never considered, but now I will have a much more critical eye! Certainly the lighting specialists for broadcast TV are very talented and knowledgeable. I’d also look at Soap Operas, they tend to have some very basic and dramatic lighting as well.

    After reading this I was struck by a picture we took recently to simulate the cast of the popular TV Show called Mad Men. We tried to get a shot where the models were dressed as the characters and showing a bit of “Attitude”

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/madmen-calendar-shoot/

    Regards, Erik

  • bexjarratt

    And where there was once only darkness, there was at once light….

    At last, someone speaking and showing at my level!!!! I’m going to be over analysing every scene now. My husband is going to wonder what all the “hmmm?”ing is about.

  • Really interesting article. I love the split light, I’m never going to stop noticing that now.

  • Kim

    Thank you! I’ve seen short light and broad light talked about, but never really understood them – thank you for simple, straight forward explanations and most of all the several examples of each.

  • yeah true talk, with this i can be an expert in my career.

  • Great tips man….

  • Excellent article! Very informative. I have yet to delve deeply into the subject of lighting (I’m usually shooting outdoors with available light) so this will really help a lot. Thanks for sharing!

    So this would be Broad Light, then, right? Almost Rembrandt but not quite.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/arianasart/5588363517/

    (I don’t know why my pictures never post on these comment threads.)

  • CatWalker

    Great article and quite informative – thank you! I read this yesterday and while watching House last night, I feel like ALL I noticed was the light! I kept yelling out what type of lighting it was, while my husband looked at me like I was a crazy person, haha! I just couldn’t NOT notice it after this.Thank you for changing the way that I see light (and television)!

  • A huge part of being a successful photographer is being able to “see” when not on the job. You should be “seeing” all the time. Whether your on a walk, riding the subway, or being a couch potato. I’m glad this post has helped you all to “see” light differently. Soon it will become second nature and at that point your photography will reach a whole new level, an exciting level!

    http://www.luketownsendphoto.com
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brooklyn-NY/Luke-Townsend-Photographer/115147638565017

  • Great Article on Using Popular Television to Boost Your Knowledge of Classic Lighting.

  • JesseAdams

    I know this is putting a spin on this article, but here is a shot I took using the TV as my lighting source (and entertainment for my subject)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/26431673@N04/5671752150/in/photostream

  • Geoff_K

    Thank you. While I have learned many things from your site, this one was spot on for what I wanted to know. It was laid out in a way that made it very easy to understand.

  • I noticed long ago that on CSI they frequently used back lighting to rim the subjects head and seperate them from the background.

  • ed

    If you want to see great lighting watch the old black and white films and shows.
    They were masters of lighting.

  • Thank you for this! I didn’t know anything about it before; I can’t wait to take some portraits and play with it!

  • nice article. informative and unique. thanks.

  • Interesting article! I sometimes have a hard time keeping my mind on a TV show because I’m watching photography techniques, especially composition. This helps me better see how lighting affects mood. I would like to hear more about the separation lights. Are you talking about lights on the background?
    Thanks for the article.
    Charlotte

  • Excellent article, thank you! I rarely watch the mentioned shows, however I have always been admiring the lighting in the movies and “high-budget” TV series such as “The Tudors”, “The Borgias” (Showtime), or “The Boardwalk Empire”, etc. I have also noticed how – most of the time – the subjects on the screen are lit from behind/above to separate them from the background and to communicate different moods. It was good to learn the terms for these approaches and what they are used for. Thanks again!

  • R. Eugene Wallace

    Television historically has been destructive to good photographic lighting effects. The best and by far the highest quality lighting is in the older Hollywood movies. The moves where academy awards were given for photography and it was necessary to be a member of the Academy of motion picture photographers. These old movies are far more dramatic than any television program. These movies are actually taught as examples in the better art and photography schools all over the US.

  • Maria

    So that is why HOUSE is my favorite show it is all about the lighting. I love it.

  • derek

    Great article. I’m a huge fan of the work of professional camera and lighting specialists who work in film and TV. These people are well schooled in their craft and can teach us a lot. For me the greatest pleasure I get out of watching TV is studying the work of these pros. In the above there is a range of quality in the images, some of which are really quite sharp. When I shoot my HD TV I don’t get sharp pics. I wonder how I can do better.

  • sue anderson

    thank you for taking the time to post this, and mostly for sharing your knowledge to graciously……Sue

  • Nino

    I am never going to watch House or any other TV show the same ever again.
    Great and informative article.
    It might just get me to dable in Portaiture

  • Doug McKay

    WOW! Thanks for this one, this is a totally new subject to me. I suppose impressions have be manipulated and I never knew why.

  • Michelle

    Thanks for this article, very timely, I am off to help out on a short film today (yes after 20 years of stills the 5D has convinced me to try my hand at moving pictures) and while I was aware of these lighting techniques for photography I was uncertain how to convert my knowledge for film, so thank you very much, great article,

  • Paul

    I’m feeling dramatically LIT UP myself right now – hands down the most interesting and useful thing I’ve learned about pix, lighting, drama, psychology, painting and aesthetics since I’ don’t know when. Thanks – just a great gift and a real nice post-24-hour internet/cable outage-Friday-just-got-home-from-work treat!
    The best!

  • Shari Brown

    Luke,
    Thanks for sharing this. It’s good to continue learning amazing things from you in a practical manner. You are such a good teacher.

  • Thanks so much Paul!

  • Where oh where did the author of this article come up with those terms. I have experience in both still and film lighting and there are very few parallels in lighting techniques between them. When a person is being filmed (even if they are siting) their head is moving and therefore the lighting is constantly changing. It’s lighting a moving target. As a result those lighting labels go out the window. Also film and video lighting can be much higher contrast. Little or no shadow detail is not an issue when a subject is moving. I guess it’s a matter of your brain telling your eye there is detail in the dark shadow while in a still photograph if there is no shadow detail, there is NO shadow detail. This is fine if you want it that way but for conventional portraiture, fashion or commercial illustration no shadow detail would look like a mistake.
    For years I have been telling my students to watch the morning or evening network news shows if you want to see examples of terrible lighting. These sets have at least fifty 500 or 750 watt fresnel spot lights hanging from the ceiling. They will hit each person on the team with several of them and often you can see 3 or 4 shadows on their neck from their chin. Sometimes they only get one spot light and it’s pretty far away so it’s a really small light throwing a really hard shadow. Just not flattering for any face. The hair and makeup union has a death grip on the television networks so everybody that goes on set has to go through the pancake makeup mill. Single source side lighting with a large white fill wall came in in the 50’s but the network television lighting guys haven/t found it yet. If you want to see great lighting check out the few soaps still on television. These are movie guys and they know their stuff. I stand my ground though about lighting a moving target. It doesn’t work for stills.

  • Where oh where did the author of this article come up with those terms. I have experience in both still and film lighting and there are very few parallels in lighting techniques between them. When a person is being filmed (even if they are siting) their head is moving and therefore the lighting is constantly changing. It’s lighting a moving target. As a result those lighting labels go out the window. Also film and video lighting can be much higher contrast. Little or no shadow detail is not an issue when a subject is moving. I guess it’s a matter of your brain telling your eye there is detail in the dark shadow while in a still photograph if there is no shadow detail, there is NO shadow detail. This is fine if you want it that way but for conventional portraiture, fashion or commercial illustration no shadow detail would look like a mistake.
    For years I have been telling my students to watch the morning or evening network news shows if you want to see examples of terrible lighting. These sets have at least fifty 500 or 750 watt fresnel spot lights hanging from the ceiling. They will hit each person on the team with several of them and often you can see 3 or 4 shadows on their neck from their chin. Sometimes they only get one spot light and it’s pretty far away so it’s a really small light throwing a really hard shadow. Just not flattering for any face. The hair and makeup union has a death grip on the television networks so everybody that goes on set has to go through the pancake makeup mill. Single source side lighting with a large white fill wall came in in the 50’s but the network television lighting guys haven/t found it yet. If you want to see great lighting check out the few soaps still on television. These are movie guys and they know their stuff. I stand my ground though about lighting a moving target. It doesn’t work for stills.

  • R. Eugene Wallace

    Mr. Langley is correct on all counts. Only the young, impressionable students are impressed with television lighting. It is comical at times to watch the color schemes and the moving colors that turn the evening news into a circus of garish lights. But, that is the way our society is going and few, if any photographers alive tolerate the styles of today. I grew up in photography when you had to apprentice with a master photographer in order to get the lowest of darkroom jobs. Then one day, the master let me load his camera and watch him do a portrait. This was my first job although I had been a photographic instructor in the US Army for three years and an avid amateur for years before that. It’s called “paying your dues” and watching television is never going to count for anything. It is the worst medium for teaching purposes including, acting, photography, lighting, etc, etc. I heard a new one today, it’s called subtractive lighting technique, where one uses black reflectors near the subject to absorb the light from hitting the subject. Go to the public library where they have real books on photography and find the oldest, dog eared book and read about real lighting technique. You can probably get a great job in the television industry as a lighting engineer.

  • Hey guys, if this was a blog for the professional videographer it would be a whole different matter but take a look at the audience. I’m just trying to help newer photographers learn solid techniques in a different ways. Thinking out of the box and going to a source you normally wound’t think about is a good exercise for anyone. My first apprenticeship was with a photographer in Kansas who was an apprentice to Yousuf Karsh in his younger days so I do have a very firm grasp on the techniques associated with lighting. Through out my years of studio managing in NY I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the best in the industry and if you place a light up and as that model moves her head and body she’s going to fall into different light…one minute it’s broad, the next short. That subject is moving too, and regardless of if you pre lit for short what is captured in that one frame is what the light is wether or not it stayed a short light. The point is to get folks to think about how the different mediums can essentially utilize the same techniques. I agree with you on the point about the news but none of these examples are from a news desk and I can guarantee you the lighting technicians on the set of these shows aren’t just throwing up lights half ass and hoping it will turn into something interesting. There is thought and purpose behind it all.

  • hahaha this is awesome! I watch the Discovery, BBC, nature, space, and science shows to do the same. Watching the lighting of landscapes, the dof of animals ect…

  • Sorin Ovidiu Bîrdac

    nice!

Some Older Comments

  • Luke Townsend May 11, 2011 11:46 am

    Hey guys, if this was a blog for the professional videographer it would be a whole different matter but take a look at the audience. I'm just trying to help newer photographers learn solid techniques in a different ways. Thinking out of the box and going to a source you normally wound't think about is a good exercise for anyone. My first apprenticeship was with a photographer in Kansas who was an apprentice to Yousuf Karsh in his younger days so I do have a very firm grasp on the techniques associated with lighting. Through out my years of studio managing in NY I've been very fortunate to work with some of the best in the industry and if you place a light up and as that model moves her head and body she's going to fall into different light...one minute it's broad, the next short. That subject is moving too, and regardless of if you pre lit for short what is captured in that one frame is what the light is wether or not it stayed a short light. The point is to get folks to think about how the different mediums can essentially utilize the same techniques. I agree with you on the point about the news but none of these examples are from a news desk and I can guarantee you the lighting technicians on the set of these shows aren't just throwing up lights half ass and hoping it will turn into something interesting. There is thought and purpose behind it all.

  • R. Eugene Wallace May 11, 2011 07:22 am

    Mr. Langley is correct on all counts. Only the young, impressionable students are impressed with television lighting. It is comical at times to watch the color schemes and the moving colors that turn the evening news into a circus of garish lights. But, that is the way our society is going and few, if any photographers alive tolerate the styles of today. I grew up in photography when you had to apprentice with a master photographer in order to get the lowest of darkroom jobs. Then one day, the master let me load his camera and watch him do a portrait. This was my first job although I had been a photographic instructor in the US Army for three years and an avid amateur for years before that. It's called "paying your dues" and watching television is never going to count for anything. It is the worst medium for teaching purposes including, acting, photography, lighting, etc, etc. I heard a new one today, it's called subtractive lighting technique, where one uses black reflectors near the subject to absorb the light from hitting the subject. Go to the public library where they have real books on photography and find the oldest, dog eared book and read about real lighting technique. You can probably get a great job in the television industry as a lighting engineer.

  • David Langley May 11, 2011 06:40 am

    Where oh where did the author of this article come up with those terms. I have experience in both still and film lighting and there are very few parallels in lighting techniques between them. When a person is being filmed (even if they are siting) their head is moving and therefore the lighting is constantly changing. It's lighting a moving target. As a result those lighting labels go out the window. Also film and video lighting can be much higher contrast. Little or no shadow detail is not an issue when a subject is moving. I guess it's a matter of your brain telling your eye there is detail in the dark shadow while in a still photograph if there is no shadow detail, there is NO shadow detail. This is fine if you want it that way but for conventional portraiture, fashion or commercial illustration no shadow detail would look like a mistake.
    For years I have been telling my students to watch the morning or evening network news shows if you want to see examples of terrible lighting. These sets have at least fifty 500 or 750 watt fresnel spot lights hanging from the ceiling. They will hit each person on the team with several of them and often you can see 3 or 4 shadows on their neck from their chin. Sometimes they only get one spot light and it's pretty far away so it's a really small light throwing a really hard shadow. Just not flattering for any face. The hair and makeup union has a death grip on the television networks so everybody that goes on set has to go through the pancake makeup mill. Single source side lighting with a large white fill wall came in in the 50's but the network television lighting guys haven/t found it yet. If you want to see great lighting check out the few soaps still on television. These are movie guys and they know their stuff. I stand my ground though about lighting a moving target. It doesn't work for stills.

  • David Langley May 11, 2011 06:39 am

    Where oh where did the author of this article come up with those terms. I have experience in both still and film lighting and there are very few parallels in lighting techniques between them. When a person is being filmed (even if they are siting) their head is moving and therefore the lighting is constantly changing. It's lighting a moving target. As a result those lighting labels go out the window. Also film and video lighting can be much higher contrast. Little or no shadow detail is not an issue when a subject is moving. I guess it's a matter of your brain telling your eye there is detail in the dark shadow while in a still photograph if there is no shadow detail, there is NO shadow detail. This is fine if you want it that way but for conventional portraiture, fashion or commercial illustration no shadow detail would look like a mistake.
    For years I have been telling my students to watch the morning or evening network news shows if you want to see examples of terrible lighting. These sets have at least fifty 500 or 750 watt fresnel spot lights hanging from the ceiling. They will hit each person on the team with several of them and often you can see 3 or 4 shadows on their neck from their chin. Sometimes they only get one spot light and it's pretty far away so it's a really small light throwing a really hard shadow. Just not flattering for any face. The hair and makeup union has a death grip on the television networks so everybody that goes on set has to go through the pancake makeup mill. Single source side lighting with a large white fill wall came in in the 50's but the network television lighting guys haven/t found it yet. If you want to see great lighting check out the few soaps still on television. These are movie guys and they know their stuff. I stand my ground though about lighting a moving target. It doesn't work for stills.

  • Luke Townsend May 8, 2011 05:56 am

    Thanks so much Paul!

  • Shari Brown May 7, 2011 11:34 pm

    Luke,
    Thanks for sharing this. It's good to continue learning amazing things from you in a practical manner. You are such a good teacher.

  • Paul May 7, 2011 08:41 am

    I'm feeling dramatically LIT UP myself right now - hands down the most interesting and useful thing I've learned about pix, lighting, drama, psychology, painting and aesthetics since I' don't know when. Thanks - just a great gift and a real nice post-24-hour internet/cable outage-Friday-just-got-home-from-work treat!
    The best!

  • Michelle May 7, 2011 08:23 am

    Thanks for this article, very timely, I am off to help out on a short film today (yes after 20 years of stills the 5D has convinced me to try my hand at moving pictures) and while I was aware of these lighting techniques for photography I was uncertain how to convert my knowledge for film, so thank you very much, great article,

  • Doug McKay May 6, 2011 10:29 pm

    WOW! Thanks for this one, this is a totally new subject to me. I suppose impressions have be manipulated and I never knew why.

  • Nino May 6, 2011 03:11 pm

    I am never going to watch House or any other TV show the same ever again.
    Great and informative article.
    It might just get me to dable in Portaiture

  • sue anderson May 6, 2011 07:39 am

    thank you for taking the time to post this, and mostly for sharing your knowledge to graciously......Sue

  • derek May 6, 2011 07:24 am

    Great article. I'm a huge fan of the work of professional camera and lighting specialists who work in film and TV. These people are well schooled in their craft and can teach us a lot. For me the greatest pleasure I get out of watching TV is studying the work of these pros. In the above there is a range of quality in the images, some of which are really quite sharp. When I shoot my HD TV I don't get sharp pics. I wonder how I can do better.

  • Maria May 6, 2011 04:21 am

    So that is why HOUSE is my favorite show it is all about the lighting. I love it.

  • R. Eugene Wallace May 6, 2011 03:39 am

    Television historically has been destructive to good photographic lighting effects. The best and by far the highest quality lighting is in the older Hollywood movies. The moves where academy awards were given for photography and it was necessary to be a member of the Academy of motion picture photographers. These old movies are far more dramatic than any television program. These movies are actually taught as examples in the better art and photography schools all over the US.

  • constv May 6, 2011 03:06 am

    Excellent article, thank you! I rarely watch the mentioned shows, however I have always been admiring the lighting in the movies and "high-budget" TV series such as "The Tudors", "The Borgias" (Showtime), or "The Boardwalk Empire", etc. I have also noticed how - most of the time - the subjects on the screen are lit from behind/above to separate them from the background and to communicate different moods. It was good to learn the terms for these approaches and what they are used for. Thanks again!

  • Charlotte May 6, 2011 02:31 am

    Interesting article! I sometimes have a hard time keeping my mind on a TV show because I'm watching photography techniques, especially composition. This helps me better see how lighting affects mood. I would like to hear more about the separation lights. Are you talking about lights on the background?
    Thanks for the article.
    Charlotte

  • josh May 6, 2011 02:15 am

    nice article. informative and unique. thanks.

  • BunnyKissd May 6, 2011 02:12 am

    Thank you for this! I didn't know anything about it before; I can't wait to take some portraits and play with it!

  • ed May 6, 2011 02:11 am

    If you want to see great lighting watch the old black and white films and shows.
    They were masters of lighting.

  • Dave May 6, 2011 02:03 am

    I noticed long ago that on CSI they frequently used back lighting to rim the subjects head and seperate them from the background.

  • Geoff_K May 6, 2011 01:49 am

    Thank you. While I have learned many things from your site, this one was spot on for what I wanted to know. It was laid out in a way that made it very easy to understand.

  • JesseAdams May 6, 2011 01:32 am

    I know this is putting a spin on this article, but here is a shot I took using the TV as my lighting source (and entertainment for my subject)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/26431673@N04/5671752150/in/photostream

  • tayo May 5, 2011 11:54 pm

    Great Article on Using Popular Television to Boost Your Knowledge of Classic Lighting.

  • Luke Townsend May 4, 2011 07:27 am

    A huge part of being a successful photographer is being able to "see" when not on the job. You should be "seeing" all the time. Whether your on a walk, riding the subway, or being a couch potato. I'm glad this post has helped you all to "see" light differently. Soon it will become second nature and at that point your photography will reach a whole new level, an exciting level!

    http://www.luketownsendphoto.com
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brooklyn-NY/Luke-Townsend-Photographer/115147638565017

  • CatWalker May 4, 2011 06:59 am

    Great article and quite informative - thank you! I read this yesterday and while watching House last night, I feel like ALL I noticed was the light! I kept yelling out what type of lighting it was, while my husband looked at me like I was a crazy person, haha! I just couldn't NOT notice it after this.Thank you for changing the way that I see light (and television)!

  • ArianaMurphy May 3, 2011 11:52 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/arianasart/5588363517/

    (I don't know why my pictures never post on these comment threads.)

  • ArianaMurphy May 3, 2011 11:52 pm

    Excellent article! Very informative. I have yet to delve deeply into the subject of lighting (I'm usually shooting outdoors with available light) so this will really help a lot. Thanks for sharing!

    So this would be Broad Light, then, right? Almost Rembrandt but not quite.

  • tayo May 3, 2011 08:28 pm

    Great tips man....

  • tayo May 3, 2011 08:22 pm

    yeah true talk, with this i can be an expert in my career.

  • Kim May 3, 2011 11:28 am

    Thank you! I've seen short light and broad light talked about, but never really understood them - thank you for simple, straight forward explanations and most of all the several examples of each.

  • tutness May 3, 2011 06:12 am

    Woha! terrific article (I even reblogged it on my photography blog), made for a good educational, informative read - and there were samples! yeay :)

    I'm just now starting my way in photography and I recently posted a that used broad-light. I knew when I took it why I like the lighting conditions and instantly saw the appeal, but now I also know it's called broad light :) (maybe even on the verge of split-light, except my subject does not look like a villain, ha!)

    I will definitely keep an eye out for these type of lightings on TV (and elsewhere) ^_^=

  • Niki Jones May 3, 2011 05:01 am

    Really interesting article. I love the split light, I'm never going to stop noticing that now.

  • bexjarratt May 3, 2011 04:43 am

    And where there was once only darkness, there was at once light....

    At last, someone speaking and showing at my level!!!! I'm going to be over analysing every scene now. My husband is going to wonder what all the "hmmm?"ing is about.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck May 3, 2011 02:20 am

    Hi

    This is a very interesting article. Learning basic lighting from examining TV is something I really never considered, but now I will have a much more critical eye! Certainly the lighting specialists for broadcast TV are very talented and knowledgeable. I'd also look at Soap Operas, they tend to have some very basic and dramatic lighting as well.

    After reading this I was struck by a picture we took recently to simulate the cast of the popular TV Show called Mad Men. We tried to get a shot where the models were dressed as the characters and showing a bit of "Attitude"

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/madmen-calendar-shoot/

    Regards, Erik

  • ScottC May 3, 2011 01:52 am

    Great article, I don't watch much TV but I may never see what little I do the same way again.

    I'm not a portrait photographer, but I guess the same could work for other subjects.

    Maybe this is an example of short light? The darker side mostly faces the camera.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5606268384/

  • Aloha Lopez May 3, 2011 01:46 am

    Nice article, very informative. I love how you use Dr.House as an example for split lighting.

  • John Davenport May 3, 2011 12:59 am

    interesting read - First let me shake your hand for the House mentions I love that show and I don't care what anyone says about this season! :)

    Secondly I had no idea how much you could actually learn about photography by watching TV who needs photography school these days.... well I suppose it does help to know what you're looking for ;0

    Regardless very nice post!

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