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How to do Four Point Lighting for a Testimony Video

shutterstock_76770868Testimonies are a powerful witness to God’s miracle working power. Testimonies are a great way to help drive home or illustrate a point in the Pastors sermon. But I’ve been in to many services where the testimony turns into a mini sermon or it goes off onto a bunny trail that has strayed from the original point. Some testimonies have even delivered false theology that the Pastor then needs to discreetly correct. I’ve found that video taping a testimony is the best way to deliver a personal, powerful message and keep it on point. In previous blogs I’ve discussed the type of cameras and lenses that would be best for this type of video. But the right camera equipment is not the only thing necessary for a testimony video. Lighting is essential for a testimony video.

Without the proper lighting the video could be grainy, dark, and the right mood could be misconstrued. Lighting is used not just as a technique to brighten and illuminate the subject but it is a tool for setting the mood. Lighting is a tool like a painters paint brush, an authors pencil or in our case the cinematographers lens. Lighting can be warm and inviting, cool and refreshing or cold, damp and unnerving. Lighting sets the tone and feel for the story. It’s easy to see how properly used lighting can really change, add to or diminish the scene. As for the intents and purposes of  this blog post, I’ll discuss how to properly set up what is known in the studio/production business as four point lighting. Now you’re welcome to use more lights than that, but four is basic and it works very well. I’ll set the scene.

You’ve determined the set, and the position of the talent ( talent being the person giving the testimony) and the position of the camera or cameras. One will do but two cameras can give variety of shots and help when editing. We’re shooting inside so you need to rent or buy a kit that is white light or one that you can alternate. The lighting kits you can alternate are LED lights. They will have a dial on the back that you can switch from one setting to another.  3200 Kelvin is the proper lighting temperature for indoor tungsten  lighting. You will need to set the changeable light to 3200K for indoors and 5600K for outdoors or to emulate daylight. Once you learn the basics then you can play with lighting temperatures. The first light to be set up is the key light.

Key light: This light is the primary light, it is the brightest and meant to simply light the subject. Position this to the right or left or whichever side of the subject is the best side. Position is close enough to adequately light the subject but no so far in that it is overbearing or causes you to have to change the settings on the camera to much. The next light is the fill light.

Fill Light: The fill light is designed to soften the Key light. It is less bright is positioned closer to the subject. The fill light fills in the natural shadows that fall on the face and softens the features. The fill light is the beauty light. The next light is the back light.

Back Light: The backlight puts a dash of light on the back of the head. The back light separates the head and shoulders from the wall behind you. If it is too close to too strong then the subject will look like they have a halo. The well done back light simply cents and sparks the subject. The last light is the background light.

Background Light: You can get away without this one but I like it because it just ads something special to the production. A splash or streak of light on the background brings some real “umph” to the testimony video.

Different Lights

  • Umbrella Lights
  • LED Lights
  • Production Lights

IMG_7723Umbrella lighting is traditionally used for pictures. Umbrellas are used to reflect and throw light wide so that it does not land in one spot. You can still use the umbrella system in video lighting and you can still set it up as described above. You can also rig umbrella lights with a flash for some beautiful shot. I have a set that produces white light which is great for an indoor studio setting. I use mine for video shooting as well as photography.



600-LED-Lights-4LED Lighting is popular videos. LED lights are a broad light usually. LED’s are positioned on a panel that helps throw the light across the room. They also let you turn up the brightness and intensity so you can have more flexibility when shooting. You can get LED lights with barn doors. What’s that? A barn door is an attachment with hinges that can swing in, down or up and help the producers make the light more directional. Barn doors are a great tool to direct and cast light v letting it just spill out everywhere. Barn doors help you be more intentional with your lighting. They can also be used with studio lighting.

alzo_2000_portrait_studio_3lights_600wTraditional Studio lighting is set up with specified lights that come in varying degrees. You might have a light that is 150, 200, 350, 600 and so on. Each degree is a higher intensity. The color of the light is determined by different filters fitted into the front of the light or with gel papers clipped to the barn doors. You can also get covers that help soften, throw and focus light such as in the picture to the left. There are many tools that you can get to go with your right. Just because you have one type of light does not mean you have to keep it that way. Today there are numerous extras to make your lighting set up more desirable to your vision.






How to Shoot in a Dim Light Setting

Sorry it’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve been very busy with other projects. But I’m back now and excited to get going again on this adventure. As always let me know how I can further and better serve you! Now on to the main post.


How to shoot in a dim light setting? Most likely when you’re shooting at your church setting the lights are dim in the auditorium or sanctuary. This obviously is for atmospheric and mood lighting. Usually the only lights on are on the stage. As the photographer in your church how do you accommodate for this hard to shoot in lighting setting? There are a couple of variables that will determine that.

  • Are you shooting for your churches print material such as a magazine or for advertisement cards?
  • Are you shooting for the web advertisement?

If you are shooting for print then it’s necessary to shoot at an ISO under 3200 and preferably at or under 1600. Why is that? The reasoning here is because images that are shot at or above 1600 can be grainy or noisy when printed. What is grain or noise?

Noise acording to Adorama.com:

In digital photographs, “noise” is the commonly-used term to describe visual distortion. It looks similar to grain found in film photographs, but can also look like splotches of discoloration when it’s really bad, and can ruin a photograph. Noise tends get worse when you’re shooting in low light.

From a technical point of view, noise is the visual manifestation of a lower signal-to-noise ratio, which is measured in decibels. While the amount of noise that you may consider acceptable may be different from what the next guy might accept, but most professional photographers want to see photos with at least a 30dB signal-to-noise ratio.

Images look like they are made of grain or sand is the short answer. Everyone has seen it at some point and its a photographers worst nightmare. Once you have grain there is no saving it in post production. Many things can be rescued in post, but grain is not one of them. Now that being said, if the image being printed is going to be super small, like a few inches on a page then you can probably get away with a 1600-3200 ISO setting. For example something smaller than a 4×6 image should be safe. A 2×2 head shot will probably be just fine. Why is this? The pixels are compressed, creating a sharper image.

If you are shooting for a web advertisement then you can most definitely get away with shooting 1600-3200 ISO. Web uses less pixels than print. That’s why it’s safer to shoot 3200 for web. Print materials will use a higher resolution image, whereas a web image is not as high a resolution. The image is already being scaled down and reduced, making it grainier anyways.

Moving onward there are some other rules to consider. The shutter speed is important to consider. The faster the shutter speed the less blurry the image. This is a great rule and knowledge for sports but sports are generally outdoors.  For shooting the band or pastor you won’t need to have too high a shutter speed. Most activity on stage will be minimal. A more aggressive band will have higher speed activity and energy so you may want to consider moving your shutter speed up. But again be careful the higher the shutter speed the darker the image. Not a good thing in a dimly lit setting. A general rule could be this: set your shutter speed at the same ratio as your focal length. For example if your lens is set at 50mm then set your shutter speed at 1/50 a sec. However there are variables to that rule. If you have a lens set at 10mm, I’m sure you won’t want to have a shutter speed at 1/10 a second. That is really slow and your going to get a shaky blurry image since most likely your shooting hand held at church. Also remember that your going to have to shoot your aperture at the lowest setting since it’s dim lighting. For example a setting of f3.5 is much wider and thusly your image is going to be brighter than a setting of f8.0. For shooting in dim light settings you’ll need to set it on the lowest possible setting. If you have a lens that will shoot at f2.8 or lower that will be the best! But remember the lower the aperture setting the shallower the depth of field. Meaning that you may only have two members of the band in focus. The back three members of the band will surly be out of focus. Maybe that’s ok and you can deal with that. I’m just saying that it’s a good possibility.

Photography is give and take: More ISO and the more grain. The more aperture the darker the image or vise versa you’ll have a shallower image with less in focus. You need to decide what’s important and what’s necessary. But my hope is that this article will give you some guidance and thinking points when when shooting in low light settings. Let me know if this is helpful to you. Thanks!