High Key Commercial Lighting the Right Way Tips for shooting a High Key commercial

In this funny yet informative tutorial Thomas Manning from light Epic Light Media, an Arizona based award-winning creative & film production company looks at how to shoot a mock bright and airy and what you need to do to shoot one yourself.

Getting that high key commercial style look might look difficult to chive but if you pay attention to some guidelines you might be able to pull this one off yourself. First, you need to work with the natural light and not against it (that is if you are shooting in an area where there is natural light). In the example, Manning shoots the model is sitting on a couch (make sure you choose one where the model isn’t sinking in), with a large bright window behind her. To get the correct exposure you will need a lot of light in a backlit situation like that and you also need to remember to light with the existing light so Manning placed his lights to the right of the model where there is another large window.

Manning used 3 different lights going through a huge umbrella (you can use other types of diffusion but this type of giant umbrella (mostly used in Photography and not videography) is actually really easy to set us and carry with you on location.

Another trick Manning uses in this shoot is to put a practical – in this case a lamp next to the model to help emphasize the model’s blond hair. Thus is actually done with a tube light with warm color as the lamp itself doesn’t produce enough light to make any real difference (the tube is located just above the model from behind. In our eyes Manning should have used some sort of light in the lamp as it looks turned off in the frame).

Now we are getting to the really important part. You will need to light the scene brighter than it needs to be and use an ND filter. Shooting some of the clips zoomed-in (not zooming in in post but using optics – either with a longer lens or with a lens that can actually zoom to at least a short telephoto) will allow you to get a better-looking bokeh as well. To get the same bokeh as the wider shot Manning actually changed the aperture from T2 to about T4 or T5.6 (without the ND). As much as possible try and shoot with enough depth of field to get your whole subject’s face in focus.

You can watch more HDSLR and video techniques on our dedicated HDSLR channel here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of LensVid.com. He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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