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Lighting 101 -- Part 2: The Fill Light

Make sure your subject isn't lost in the hard shadows created by the Key light By Stephen Schleicher
Welcome to the second installment of our on going series relating to lighting. The last installment discussed placement and purpose of the Key light. This time we’ll soften those really hard shadows with the Fill light.

To make sure your subject is not lost in the hard shadows created by the Key, you need to have a way of lightening those areas while still preserving the shadows. In our last discussion I mentioned that shadows create depth and texture on the subject. Without shadows the subject appears flat and lifeless.

Take a look at the first image. This shot is using no other light than the Key. The hard shadows produce a feel to the scene that may not necessarily convey the message that was intended. The Key light has been placed in the 7:00 position for maximum light coverage.

No Fill used in this shot

The Fill light does exactly as the name implies, it fills in the shadows created by the key. The conventional placement of the Fill light is directly opposite from the placement of the Key. Instead of being at the same vertical angle, the Fill light is positioned at a slightly shallower angle.

In the next image, a Fill light has been added that definitely decreases the shadows in the shot. Be careful that the Fill light is not too bright that it begins to cast shadows on the subject as well. When using a Fill light you should never have it so bright that it begins to compete with the Key.

The Fill light lightens the shadows created by the Key light

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  • Lighting 101 -- Part 2: The Fill Light by DMN Editorial at Aug. 03, 2004 11:32 pm gmt (Rec'd 2)

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