Exercise: Creating depth with lighting

Camera: Sony PXW-FS7
Lens: Sony 28-135mm f4
Lights: Arri 300, Arri 150

The aim of this exercise was to create three distinctly different impressions of depth within the same space.

I took as my starting point for this exercise Blain Brown’s advice that ‘in our quest to make an image as three-dimensional as possible, we usually try to create a foreground, mid ground and background in a shot’ by using backlighting and making the area behind the main subject ‘significantly darker’ than the subject (Brown, 2012:105).

In each of my shots, I created an area of relative darkness in the background and added some back or side-lighting on the main subject. This helped to separate the main subject from the background and create a sense of depth within the shot.

I also made use of the natural light coming in through the roof lights. Particularly in shot 1, in which the window light acted as the key light, illuminating the subject’s face.

Of the three shots, I think shot 2 is the least successful in creating a sense of depth within the space. Although the sidelight helps separate the subject from the background by illuminating her hair, this image still feels flat. This is probably more of a compositional issue that could have been solved by placing something in the foreground to help give a greater sense of depth within the shot.



Brown, B (2012) Cinematography: Theory and Practice. Focal Press.