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How and why 3-point lighting can take images to another level

In photography and videography a big piece of creating pleasing imagery arises through your choice of lighting. The size of the light, its color temperature, and how powerful it is are all important technical pieces to the puzzle — but one element that many struggle with is the question of how many lights should be used.

One of the most popular lighting setups is called three-point lighting, and just as the number implies, it involves using three lights to create and direct pleasing light on your subject. The team over at the WolfCrow channel on YouTube has been creating a ton of great educational videos recently involving lighting. In one of its latest videos the group tackles three-point lighting, and more than just the standard lighting configuration, the video addresses the issue of why one would want to use this popular setup.

The reason for making the video, according to the host, has to do with there being so much information out there about three-point lighting and how to set it up, but almost nothing about when or why to use it, or where it originated from – and why we should care.

The video covers all of the basics, touching on the definition of a key light, a rim light, and other popular industry terms for the various light positions/ and styles. Probably one of the biggest things to take away though, is the bit on “motivated light,” and having a reason for each light that you use on your frame, rather than just using x number of lights because that is what you were told to do.

The roughly 12-minute video is a great crash course on basic lighting for anyone who has been interested in improving the look of their images or videos.