Lighting at InFocus Film School


Lighting is a crucial part of the filmmaking experience. It gives films a special look and style that can be unique to the piece in question. It affects the tone, mood, and can subconsciously control the audience’s emotion as well.

Understanding fundamental lighting is extremely important. Whether you are a lighting expert, or stepping in behind the camera for the first time, here are 3 tips you MUST know as a cinematographer.

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Larger Light Sources = Softer Light

Pictures just look naturally better when they’re taken outside on a bright day because the sun is your primary, albeit MASSIVE light source when shooting outside. A golden rule to always remember is the larger the source, the softer the light and shadows.

If you have a small light, you can emulate the feel of big ones by moving it closer to your subject, or adding diffusion.


Be Smart. Use Smart Side Lighting


Smart-side lighting requires you to put your light source on the same side a character is looking. Placing your key light source on the same side of the camera can make your image look flat. Smart side lighting is placed opposite of the camera, adding depth and making things more visually interesting . This technique is also known as “reverse key lighting” or “far side lighting.”


Book Lighting

Book lighting is the act of pointing your light at a bounce board, and having that bounced light go through diffusion. It will turn hard light into soft light which is ideal for faces. Knowing how to book light is valuable because the setup doesn’t take a lot of real-estate, which is perfect for shooting in tight spaces.



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InFocus Film School extensively covers cinematography in our 12-month film production program.  Learn from industry mentors and get guidance along the way. Click here to speak to an advisor about our program!