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Light Glossary

absorption of light
    The fate of non-reflected, non-scattered light. the reason why black suits are difficult to light (and hot to wear) is that they absorb most of the light and convert it into heat. surfaces that ab...
accent light
    Any source from almost any direction which is used in addition to more basic lights to call attention to an object or area - not the lighting.
aims of lighting
    To enhance mood, atmosphere, and drama; to illuminate the story; to separate planes; to suggest depth; to direct attention; to reveal character; to convey time of day; to enrich and, occasionally,...
ambient light
  1. The general (and often undesirable) illumination surrounding the shooting or projection area; not exactly the same as available light or natural light. tip: use the term to ward off meddling c... iluminación ambiental;
amp calculations
    Formula: amps = watts ÷ volts. tip: when the no-nonsense electrician asks: "how many amps will you need at 120 volts?" just divide the maximum watts you expect to use by 100 (it...
angle of light
    The angle formed between the light/subject axis and camera/subject axis is probably the most important aspect of light in determining mood, modeling, and "message." both the horizontal a...
aperture (light and camera)
    The camera, projector, or printer opening that controls the size and proportions of the recorded image - the frame. see: aspect ratio. the area from which light is emitted from a fixture is also a...
apple box
    A rectangular wooden box used to support people, props, or equipment at any of three different heights. thinner half-apples offer other options, alone and in stacked combinations.
arc light
  1. A very large, near-daylight, carbon-arc source that was used to shoot hollywood blockbusters - now rivaled by hmi and msr lights.

  2. A high-intensity light source produced by an arc, u... luz de arco;
artificial light
  1. An ambiguous term that refers to light produced by electricity as opposed to a natural source and to illumination introduced to record images. depending upon how it is used, it looks either ar...
attenuator (optical)
    A continuously graduated color or neutral-density camera filter used to tame snow, enrich sunsets, and perform absorption magic more subtly than can be done with a graduated filter.
attributes of light
    Every source has five main attributes that affect the quality of light emitted and the overall lighting-look: 1) hard or soft (or in between); 2) intensity (the amount of light); 3) direction (in ...
available light
  1. Light of almost any sort which exists and has not been introduced to record images. its use is sometimes fast, cheap, and even beautiful. tip: the more you understand lighting technique, the b...
available light phobia
    The morbid fear of uncontrolled lighting situations.
  1. The light meter`s arithmetic mean of all the light it "gathers."

  2. In light metering, where the light is read from most of the viewfinder frame then averaged to yield an ove...
axial or axis lighting
    Illumination from the lens axis using light reflected from a partially mirrored glass angled 45 degrees in front of the lens. used primarily for medical and scientific recording where access or sh...
back light
    Back light separates subject from background, saints from sinners, and one pro from another. angle: toward the lens from above and behind the subject, or above, behind, and slightly to the side of...
back light addiction
    The uncontrollable urge to smother subjects under deadly doses of back light.
back light phobia
    The unreasonable fear of violating the motivation principle by using even tiny quantities of the substance.
backdrop lighting
    The even illumination of a painted or photographic background or backing, seen through the windows or doors beyond a set.
    A front-of-the-light device having two or more pivotable black panels used to shape the beam and shade the camera lens or scene.
base light
    Diffuse, overall set illumination intended to keep video electronics quiet. this characterless illumination has been going out of style thanks to improved camera performance and skillful lighting ...
beam pattern
    Includes beam angle, beam shape, and any realistic or abstract patterns introduced into the beam. see: finesse.
big nose/small ears syndrome
    The "comic," and mostly unattractive, appearance of a face shot from extremely close through a wide-angle lens. see: distortion and perspective.
boom or mike shadow
    A frequent and unwelcome (especially when it moves) part of early television which is still with us on occasion. solutions: a large, soft key or bounce light; a high-angle key that is sharply cut ...
booster blue
    Various blue gels or rarely, glass, used to increase the kelvin of a source - such as: 1/8, 1/4, or 1/2 daylight blue.
booster light
    The fixture or illumination that helps to balance out-of-balance exterior light.
bounce light
  1. A super-soft source produced by reflecting lights off white (or at least color-neutral) panels or walls. also, the terminal treatment of lighting kits by belligerent or under-tipped baggage ha...
breaking the motion barrier
    The challenge still photographers face when they cross over into video and film and deal with time and movement as they affect lighting. see: consistency of lighting; moving lights; and moving sub...
burning up
    Overly bright, washed-out parts of a scene or subject, often as a result of subjects moving too close to an intense source. see: moving subjects, graduated scrim, and floater for remedies.
butterfly lighting
    A slightly high-angle, slightly diffused source, cen-tered on a (frequently female) subject`s face to minimize nose shadow, skin texture, and double chins and emphasize cheekbones and beauty. see ...
c clamp
    One of several ways to attach a light to a ladder, for example.
    The arrangement of light and dark areas in a composition. a term infrequently invoked on the job.
chicken coop
    A six-lamp fixture, with or without diffusion, hung over a set for broad, down illumination.
chip chart (video)
    A chart of gray tones ranging from black to white used to set up electronic cameras.
cinematic license
    Allows holder to use unmotivated back light, elevate short actors, and transform day into night.
close-up (stills)
    A shot requiring a supplementary lens, bellows, extension tubes, or macro lens to bring the subject into focus.