How To Use a Fill Light for Perfect Photos
Have you ever tried taking a photo of someone and ended up with a silhouette, instead? Then it’s time for you to learn about using a fill light. As the name implies, it fills the dark areas with light, so you end up with a correctly exposed image.
What Is the Purpose of a Fill Light?
Do you keep getting silhouettes in your photos even when it’s bright out? Well, it’s most likely because you’re back lighting. In other words, you’re taking pictures where the light is behind your subject. The light may hit their back, but not their faces. As a result, your model ends up looking dark in your images.
It could also happen in other lighting situations where there is only one light source. Often, it’s not enough to illuminate the entire subject. A secondary light source is necessary.
Fill light photography is that second light source. It helps fill in shadows and balance the exposure.
What Is a Key Light and Fill Light?
Before we dive into the details of fill light, we first need to define key light and fill light.
The key light is your main light source which could be the sun or artificial lighting. Meanwhile, the fill light is that additional light source that “fills” in the dark areas on the subject.
In general, the fill light needs to be less bright than the key light. That way, you don’t end up overexposing or washing out the details on your subject.
How Do You Use Fill Light in Photography?
There are many ways to create fill light. You may use a flash, strobe, continuous light, or reflector.
Flash and strobes produce extra light in addition to the key light to create a balanced exposure. Meanwhile, a reflector bounces the available light back to the subject.
And where do you put a fill light? In most cases, you place it in front of the subject or beside them. Its purpose is to eliminate the shadows on your model’s face and body.
Generally, you’ll need to place your fill light opposite the main light source.
If the light is behind the subject, you’ll need to position your fill light in front of them.
And if the light is beside the subject, you’ll need to move your fill light to the side.
How Do I Use Fill Light in the Studio?
Apart from using fill lights outdoors, it’s also a useful technique indoors.
In a studio setting, most photographers use fill light in a technique called 3 point lighting. Lighting 3 point requires a key light, fill light, and rim light.
So how does it work? Usually, the key light illuminates one side of the face, and the fill light illuminates the other side.
Meanwhile, rim light illuminates the back of the head. People also call it hair light because it highlights the person’s hair.
Most people place the flash a few feet directly behind the subject. Others prefer positioning it at about 45 degrees behind your model, away from the camera frame.