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.