Lighting 101

Lesson 15/65 - 5 Common Key Light Patterns


Lighting 101


Lesson Info

5 Common Key Light Patterns

In my book, the first step when it comes to understanding lighting is toe understand the five most common or the five primary ki lighting patterns. Now, the key light is simply the primary light over your subject. You can call it a key light. You can call the main light whatever you wanna call it. It's totally fine. Technically is referred to as a key. Or maybe, but we're gonna do is demonstrate and show you basically what these key light patterns are great for we're going to show you the direction of how the light is coming on to the subject and what the characteristics of the ark is. Each one of them is great for different purposes. So let's, go ahead and start. Now for these we have our lovely real life model olivia. Here. Libby's actually are shoot producer and she's, our wardrobe hair and makeup artist who works with us. And we have her best friend in this shoot too. Anita, let me introduce you all to anita. I need him in a year. Going out. Hello? I don't know. Really how anita so...

unds or what her accent should be. But this is anita. I need a body. I need about a real bad, okay, so he's gonna be our lovely head model, and anita is olivia's practice hair and makeup model that she used to use going through school so thanks to olivia for providing this creepy little head for us to demonstrate to you all I really appreciate it but the great thing about this is that using our little light panel chroma right here I want to show you all kind of the position of the light in relation to the face and you're going to see in the video as well but it's a little bit easier to see if I can shift it back and forth thing is khun see it almost in kind of three d and see the space and exact position and placement and so forth so let's go ahead and start from the top number one we have flat lighting a flat lining is basically where the light is directly coming into the face now this could be from a light that's place behind the camera or it could be just barely above the lens so it's going to come directly in the face like this generally when you are flat lighting you don't want it to come from below the lens you always wanted from above the lens is goingto look unnatural anything we're coming from below will look unnatural so this is what it looks like if I turn this to the side it's this flat light that goes directly onto the face what is flat like good for well flat light has very little shadow. Okay, so if you look at this, it fills in all the shadows on the face. So the great thing about flat light is it's very non dramatic, ok, it's going to create a very flattering look because it's going to fill in all the lines and all the wrinkles and all the imperfections and it's going to really create a beautiful overall look. So we're going to use it for head shots, which will demonstrate like a nice little square lights set up that will give you a beautiful flat light, and we're also going to use it well, when we do our direct flash editorial shots and so forth, it creates a really fantastic look to the images and don't think that just because the light has no direction, it's not a good light, it is it's great for these types of shots. The next one, we're just going to move and adjust the lights in a very subtle way, and we're going to do is get to butterfly lighting, which is number two butterfly or paramount. Now it's called paramount because the actual studio paramount used this type of lighting technique toe light every single one of their celebrity headshots for a long, long time back in the old days of hollywood, so it became known as paramount lighting. But this is basically butterfly light and it's, characterized by this little butterfly that you have right underneath the nose. It kind of creates the wings and the pattern of a butterfly underneath a nose. With that the shadow so that light we move from flat light simply up a little bit, and we angle it down. Okay, so for right here and it's straight over the face. I'm going to turn this to the sign a little. If you guys can see it. This is our butterfly light, and you can see that butterfly shadow just right underneath the nose. Okay, so this is again without diffusion, but it's going to look a little bit different with diffusion. Now, butterfly light is fantastic because similar to flat lighting it's going to come directly onto the face, which means that it fills and wrinkles and it fills and everything. And if you use a reflector underneath which creates clamshell lighting, you get a beautiful phil and it looks fantastic. It's a very flattering beauty type light that's often used for beauty. It's often used her portrait's and so forth it's again, another great kind of similar to flat light, but it does create a little more shadow than flat lighting. Okay, so moving from butterfly, we get toe loop now loop is basically where we take the light and it's again above the subjects had a little bit, but we move it off camera or just off angle a little bit by around twenty five say fifty degrees so if this was where our paramount light was, loop is going to be right about here where around twenty five to fifty degrees we're starting create just a little bit of a shadow that comes off the nose and you can see that it's just a little bit of an edge there so it's a great light because it creates a slightly more dramatic look as it creates a little more shadow on the face with flat light with butterfly light it's very much kind of shadows especially when we're using a lot of phil and so forth there's really not a lot of shadow which makes it very flattering but it's not a very dramatic style of light once we get in the loop has a little bit more drama to it it still is covering most the face and light but with the direction why would get a little more shadow on one side and if ah subject has a good versus a well I want to say if more flattering side we might want to choose loop or even rembrandt lighting to kind of light into the side of they might prefer so it's getting slightly more flattering look overall okay so from that now we have loop which is twenty five degrees say this is paramount here we got loop and don't mind me kind of changing the direction this is just for these purposes so if we're to look off to the side here is loop right here so that's where it looks like in position to the head okay let me make sure that that's the right shadow and then we go into rembrandt now rembrandt's basic when we pull this off even mohr directionally and what we end up getting is we get this little we get a lot of light on one side of face and we get a split highlight just right over the eye and under the cheek of the eye okay on the other side the face but most the faces in shadow so if I turn this to the sign again this is kind of what it looks like from the side is going to come up high and we get that little split right they're leaving half the really a good part of the face in in shadow with exception the I in that cheek okay again rembrandt lighting you're getting more and more dramatic as we add an introduced mohr shadow into our portrait we're going to get a more dramatic look which for this type of a shot isn't necessarily the most flattering thing but still we can diffuse it because this is still a direct light not defused we have pretty sharp shadow edges when we diffuse it a little more flattering but typically it's not used for beauty it's used for drama it's used when you want to show you no more shadows and more edge to an image all right, so I wouldn't use it when you want to like create a very flattering portrait your your subject might be a little angry with you that they kind of look like wise it looks so serious and they won't know what even if they're smiling okay lastly we have split so rembrandt was more angled loop so here we have loop okay, so loop was about right here rembrandt was over here and the split is basically right after the side where were basically splitting the light so it's coming directly from the side where you get the split right down the nose okay, so leaving half the face and shadow and half the face lit up so if you're gonna light it from lissy I want to do this far to switch hands the light is essentially just directly behind well it's not too behind but to the side of their face. So from here to hear now again if rembrandt is to be kind of directional and to create more drama then your split lighting is going to create even more drama okay it's going to leave half the face and shade but it's heavily directional, so it makes it really fantastic for, say, athletic portrait's and so forth. We use a lot of rembrandt and split lighting when we do our athlete portrait, because we want that heavily directional light not only the dramatic. It also draws a lot of definition across their their muscle features and so forth. So these two, I'd say our kind of mohr on the dramatic side and based on what we have here in this in this lighting setup. But if you notice as we go to this sign, we end up with less shadows. Less shadows means less drama, and as we go to this sign, we ended with more shadows, and more shadows means more drama. So those are our five common key light patterns of five primary key light patterns. Let's, go in the next video, and we're going to show you what these key light patterns look like with diffusion, because the change it's actually quite significant between these with direct light, without diffusion and with diffusion and phil.

Class Description

Lighting 101 follows in Photography 101's footsteps. Photography 101 takes students up through Manual Mode mastery and provides a foundation in natural light techniques and modifications. Lighting 101 picks up by teaching all about flash and light modification. But, just like Photography 101, we want Lighting 101 to be the most accessible lighting course available. So we teach you everything about flash lighting, light modification, ambient to flash balance, lighting patterns, off-camera lighting and even multi-point off-camera light setups. But, what makes Lighting 101 truly special is that we do all of this with nothing but your on-camera hot shoe flash. Every image shown and created in this course was created with a DSLR and just a single on-camera hot shoe speed light. 


1Chapter 1 Introduction 2Why Just One On-Camera Flash 35 Reasons to Use Flash 4Common Flash Myths 5What Makes Flash Challenging? 6Chapter 2 Introduction 7Flash-Strobe vs. Ambient-Constant Light 8Flash vs. Ambient Light Exposure 9Flash vs. Ambient Demo 10Flash and Ambient Balancing for Natural Effect 11Flash and Ambient Balancing for Dramatic Effect 12Flash and Ambient Balancing for Creative Effect 13Understanding Flash Duration 14Chapter 3 Introduction 155 Common Key Light Patterns 165 Common Key Light Patterns w/ Diffusion & Fill 175 Common Secondary Light Patterns 183 Primary Subject Patterns 19Light Qualities 20The Inverse Square Law 21Inverse Square Law in Practice 22Corrective White Balance 23Creative White Balance 24Chapter 4 Introduction 25On Board vs. Hot Shoe Flash 26Full Feature vs. Manual Flashes 27TTL vs. Manual Control 28TTL vs. Manual Recycle Times 29Flash Power & Zoom 30HHS vs. ND Filters 31FCS vs. RCS 32Chapter 5 Introduction 334 Tips When You Must Use Direct Flash 34Bare Bulbing Done Right 35Grid Snoot + Direct Flash 36Mini Beauty + Direct Flash 37Ring + Direct Flash 38Understanding Modifiers 39Direct Flash + Shutter Flash 40Chapter 6 Introduction 41Ambient vs. Direct Flash vs. Bounce Flash 42Silver Bounce 43More Light Silver 44Soft White Bounce 45Overhead Bounce 46Overhead Bounce + Fill 47Event Bounce 48Chapter 7 Introduction 49Natural vs. Dramatic Light 50Filling and Refining Existing Light 51Coloring Light for Corrective Effect 52Coloring Light for Creative Effect 53Chapter 8 Introduction 54Case Study 1 - Dramatic Sunset 55Case Study 2 - Desert Sunset 56Case Study 3 - Sinister Headshot 57Case Study 4 - Family Portrait 58Case Study 5 - Athlete Portraits 59Case Study 6 - Working Angles 60Case Study 7 - Drag + Composite 61Case Study 8 - Less is More 62The Good Karma Jar 63Favorite Feature Flashes 64Favorite Manual Flashes 65Favorite On Camera Flash Modifiers



The best class for understanding light and lighting there is bar none. Pye is an excellent teacher and the quality of the material provides for a rich and very informative experience. Pye breaks down the fundamentals in easy to digest packets and then elaborates as needed. If there is one class that you watch this is it! Worth purchasing and saving for future use. I would also HIGHLY recommend downloading the saving the PDF of slides that accompany the videos. Again, and can't say it enough, this is THE BEST video to lighting on Creative Live. A must watch for the novice and the expert.


AMAZING course. Great information for people just starting out with using a flash and manipulating light. Pye has a great sense of humor so he keeps you interested but still explains everything really well.


I love watching Pye Jirsa teach. He really knows his photography and he is an excellent teacher. Also, I like that Pye is very well prepared and he does not "wing it". Great course!