The beauty of well-lit interior situations is when you can’t guess how it was set up or it looks natural, as if the practicals in the room served as light sources. In this lighting tutorial, you will learn how to create a convincing scene of a cozy night interior and a fierce thunderstorm on the outside.
Filmmaker Tom Antos published a very simple but yet effective video showing how he used only three lights to simulate such a situation. He used LEDs, but you can use hot lights too. Two of the most important aspects into lighting that interior is controlling the spill of the key light, which is used to augment the effect of the practical lamp in the scene. When you watch night interiors in movies, it’s almost sure that the existing lamps in the room are just to sell the effect of the additional lights that are positioned outside the frame. The second most important aspect in the tutorial is the fill light. Although it’s almost invisible, it can make or break a scene. The subtlety of the fill light turns the picture from looking “digital” to “cinematic.” Later in the tutorial, you will learn how to convincingly light a subject carrying a candle. This is one of the difficult situations to mimic with artificial lights, but Antos handled that pretty well.
If you’re not a filmmaker, don’t get discouraged, because this tutorial is also for photographers. Light is light, and you can apply that knowledge to photographing stills as well.