chapter  13
18 Pages

Lighting and composition

The many influences on composition already discussed, such as invisible technique, choice of lens/position, perspective, visual design elements and style, are all created or influenced by light. The most important element in the design of visual images is light. Apart from its fundamental role of illuminating the subject, light determines tonal differences, outline, shape, colour, texture and depth. It can create compositional relationships, provide balance, harmony and contrast. It provides mood, atmosphere and visual continuity. Light is the key pictorial force in film and television production. The basic requirement to provide adequate light for an exposed

picture with the required depth-of-field can fairly easily be achieved with contemporary film stock. Video cameras are sufficiently sensitive to provide an acceptable exposure under almost any found lighting condition. But whereas the technical requirements of exposure, appropriate colour temperature and contrast range may be readily satisfied, the resultant image may be a muddle of competing areas of light and shade that do not communicate the intended ‘visual message’ of the shot. The control of light to guide the audience’s attention and to communicate production requirements plays a crucial part in the creation of any film or TV image. In almost every situation, visual communication can be more effective by choosing the camera position or staging participants with reference to found light and usually by adding some form of additional direct or reflected light. Production lighting does a great deal more than simply enabling the

viewer to recognize the content of the shot, but usually the first basic technical requirements are to supply sufficient light for the required exposure, at the appropriate colour temperature, and to help modify or create a suitable contrast range for the subject in order to meet the requirements of the recording medium. Using light as a set of techniques to create tonal differences, outline,

shape, colour, texture, patterns of colour, and to define and develop

the space of the shot requires an understanding of how we perceive light, the nature of light and the contrast range of the recording medium.