What Is A Fill Light? Top 7 Fill Lights You Should Know

fill light

What is a fill light?

Fill light is a secondary light that is less powerful as compared to the key light. It is placed opposite the key light to give it a different angle. This angle is aimed at filling the high-contrast shadows created by the key light on the subject’s face. The fill enhances the details in the darkness and creates the type of mood that the photographer desires.

What are key light and fill light?

Key light and fill light are two light sources, As you can tell by its name, the key light is the primary light source that is used to illuminate the subject and is slightly stronger than the former. Whereas, the fill light provides a beautiful lift to the shadows.

What is the 3 point lighting system?

3 point lighting system is the method of illuminating the subject in a setting with light coming from three different positions from different sources. These 3 lights are the key light, the fill light, and the backlight. The key light is the most powerful and brightest light source in the three-point lighting setup. This setup ensures that the subject is evenly illuminated and there are no hard shadows on the subject.

Also Read: 9 Types Of Portrait Lighting Setup

Top 7 types of filler lights

1. Lighting equipment

Fill Light

Your primary choice for a fill light should always be another actual light. It has to be less powerful than the key light. However, if your budget doesn’t allow it, then you may consider other alternatives upcoming in this article.

2. Flash

Fill Light

A flash is another great choice. It can take you a long way and help you eliminate the shadows. A flash can also be used against the Sun if not the key light which makes it more beneficial to be a part of your equipment.

3. Walls

Fill Light

Walls are the ‘no-cost yet effective’ filler light in photography. The walls and ceilings can help you bounce off the excess key light and create a soft and even light effect. It’d be better if the color of the walls and ceilings are white or light shades and they are close to the subject.

4. Reflectors

Fill Light

Reflectors are one of the most important pieces of photography equipment. They are portable, inexpensive, and come in different shapes and varieties to suit your needs. They are among the best types of fill lights alternatives.

They work by simply reflecting the key light back on the subject. A silver reflector creates a beautiful white sheen, whereas, the golden reflector reflects warmer tones.

The white foam boards are perfect for outdoor shootings as they evenly spread the light and create a subtle diffusing effect. If there’s too much light, you can use the black type of “reflector” to absorb the excess light. You can find a good set of photography reflectors on Amazon easily.

5. Fabric

Fill Light

Light fabrics like chiffon or georgette can be used to control the effect of the key light. The light-colored fabrics work as a great alternative by spreading the light and reducing the shadows. You may use long fabric materials, curtains, or bedsheets and use them as reflectors.

6. Spill fill

Fill Light

The next fill is to avoid the spilling of light. During photography or production, the light leaks, or even stray light can ruin a shot. These are called spill fill. Controlling these spills is necessary. Thus, if this can be avoided in the first place, you can have great control over the light source.

7. Negative fill

Fill Light

When you want a fill light that is duller than what natural light provides, you can simply block the ambient light with an opaque or black material mounted on a butterfly frame. This allows you to prevent excess light from bouncing back at the subject. The amount of negative fill depends on how much light you want to absorb. The type of camera, the light source, and the setting can affect the effect of negative fill.

Bonus Read

You need to fill light to remove shadows or prevent dark shadows from affecting the subject. It can be done using various ways. I hope this article explained and helped you achieve the purposes. You may go ahead and try or use them all and decide what works best for you.

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