One of the best lessons to learn in photography is that your results need to be repeatable. It’s not enough to get a great shot once, you have to be able to duplicate that success consistently, in different environments, and even with tools kinds of equipment. This is easier to accomplish with a deeper technical understanding of why your setup works. In this Adorama TV tutorial, photographer Mark Wallace explains the four basic categories of studio lighting.

The Key Light

does most of the work in the lighting setup and it is, as Mark calls it, ” the cornerstone of every lighting setup”. Every other light in your setup is set in relation to this main light.

The Fill Light(s)

softens the shadows on your subject but, it should not overpower your Key Light. Additionally, the role the fill light has in your setup doesn’t have to be fulfilled by an actual light. A reflector can also be used to soften your shadows.

The Hair Light

adds a highlight to your subject’s hair. It is also called a “separation Light” or “kicker light” because it separates your subject from the background. The power of your hair light should be equal to or slightly brighter than your Key light or else it will be overpowered.

The Background Light

Illuminates your background and, depending on what your needs are, you may use multiple lights. Like the fill light, the power of the background light should be equal to or less than your key light.

Light Ratios

Earlier in this tutorial, Mark mentioned how the power of each light should be set in relation to one another. These were general directions but, he has a more precise method to use. The numbers below represent how many stops of light higher or lower each light should be set in relation to your Key Light (Main Light). Just remember, it’s the ratio and not the exact Fstop that matters as each shooting environment is different.

[REWIND: What Is A Stop Of Light?]

Key Light = 0
Fill Light = -1
Hair Light = +0.3
Background Light = -1.3

Additional Articles on Studio Lighting

If you want to learn more about Lighting, and within a day learn what you need to make lighting second nature, then Lighting 101 and 201 within SLR Lounge Premium is what you seek.