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Tips & Tricks

An Exemplary Lighting Demonstration | 3 Different Scenes With 1 Small Set

By Kishore Sawh on October 10th 2015


There are countless and rather obvious reasons why going through a really good photography workshop, in person or on your own, with a specific program, is going to be beneficial to your photography understanding and career. As the name suggests, you can get to work through and along with the instructor, and much of the benefit to these tutorial systems are the little things that aren’t the direct purpose of the tutorial.

If you were trying to learn Photoshop or Lightroom for instance (two programs you really need to be adept with today), aside from learning how to do something like frequency separation, the little movements in between teach you how the programs actually work, and how to navigate it. You’ll pick-up shortcuts, and see what’s in which menu, and little hacks here and there.


What I’m getting at is, you see all steps of the process, including seemingly unimportant minutiae, that’s in fact not unimportant at all because it shows you the building blocks. The video herein from German hailing production company, Dugly Habits, is one of a few really, really good examples of this, where they take you through using one room, and building 3 drastically different scenes with only lighting.

Created for the Dedolight International Competition 2015, the company was clearly going to be using and touting Dedolight products such as the Dedolight SPS5E Lighting Kit to accomplish all kinds of lighting. From simulating car headlights to moonlight, to candle flicker light, to morning sunlight, they do it. However, it’s probably not just what they accomplish that’s interesting, as much as it is you see the process of it in building block fashion; One light for the sunlight in the first window, then another for the second room for a sense of depth, then a small grid toward a subject’s face…and on and on. It’s brilliant.



I’m certain it’s going to give many a whole new appreciating of how a scene in a film or photo shoot is lit, and will give you a greater appreciation for the craft, as clearly it is more an art than science. Great teaching isn’t just about having great information to impart, but about finding a way to bring the information across that’s relatable and easy to see. Truly I cannot stress enough how important this is in photography because I see a lot of educators out there who clearly know their craft but don’t understand how to share it. I hope you find this as interesting as I did.

And if it is great lighting tutelage you seek, to be able to take available and studio lights to create what you see in your head, we have a host of great tutorials to do just that which you can find here.  Also, I would be doing you a disservice in not recommending Lighting 101 and 201 and the Lightroom Workshop for becoming as good as it’s possible to be in Lightroom.


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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. David Martirosyan

    That’s a small set?

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    • Stan Rogers

      Honestly, yes. You only build and furnish what you can see. The front “room” is only deep enough for it to appear to have side walls; the rear “room” only has to extend as far as it can be seen through the doorway. (You can also cheat the size of that rear room considerably if you never have your subjects wander into it. 3/4-scale props can save you a lot of space if they’re weell-placed.) And you can get away with utility 2x2s and cheap luan plywood for most of the build-out; it doesn’t need to be expensive at all. Remember, it only has to look good from one side, and often only from one or two angles. Yes, you do need space to create the illusion of space, but if you want the sort of place that would have chandeliers, a baby grand, and a curved driveway, you cant work in something that’s the size of a small bedsit/bachelor/studio apartment.

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  2. Colin Woods

    That was brilliant, thanks for posting it. As always, you know you are in the hands of a master when it looks so simple that you think “I could do that”.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Much agreed Colin, I was actually surprised how well this was done, and just how succinctly. Cheers

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    • Stan Rogers

      The thing about “I could do that” is that most of the time you probably could — if you paid enough attention day-to-day, and thought about the tools you’d need to make that happen if it didn’t just happen to be happening at the moment. A really interesting exercise is to sit down with a handful or two of your own favourite “grab shots” — those pictures we’ve all made where the stars and planets we aligned just so, we had our lucky socks on and were holding our tongue in just the right position, etc., but our own contribution could be boiled down to pointing the camera in the right direction and pressing the button at the right time — and think for a minute or two or a thousand about what it would take to recreate that shot in a studio from scratch (assuming you had adequate set-building and backdrop-painting skills, or that you could hire them).

      The advantage to doing it as thought experiments is that it’s a whole bunch cheaper. Or you could do what Joey L. has done from time to time, and mock the whole thing up with dolls (“action figures”) and dollar-store flashlights if your lighting intuition isn’t well-developed yet or you’re trying to finesse something you can’t quite “see”. (The inverse square law scales nicely with the size of the lights and subjects; you can do tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of full-scale lighting with tens of dollars’ worth of dollar-store junk.)

      It turns out that lots of thought, a ridiculous level of attention to detail, sometimes a lot of hard work and — occasionally — more gear than you ever imagined using at one time is all there is to it. It’s a wonder everyone isn’t knocking pictures and films like that out every day, really. (That was sarcasm.) “Camera operator” is such a small part of the equation, yet it’s the part that gets all of the attention.

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