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Add Drama to Your Lighting Setup with Negative Fill

Caleb Ward

Embrace the darkness: Learn how a negative fill can quickly change the overall tone of your scene.

In any basic lighting class, including those found here on the PremiumBeat blog, you’ll likely hear a lot of talk regarding 3 point lighting. In a 3 point lighting setup you have three basic lights: a key, a fill, and a back light.

When lighting a scene, you’d be right to assume that you’ll likely be using some sort of variation of 3 point lighting. However, the following video tutorial shows the power of diverging from the norm through the use of a technique known as negative fill.

negative fill example

As the name implies, a negative fill is the exact opposite of a fill light. Instead of filling in the shadows with light, a negative fill will accentuate the shadows by minimizing any additional light that may be trying to bounce onto your subject. The results can be extremely dramatic, making this concept great for narratives and emotional interviews.

There are a number of ways to create negative fill, but the most basic is using a simple black sheet. You can get black sheets for as cheap as $3.99 on Amazon.

The following video tutorial, created by the good folks at Indie Cinema Academy, shows us how to quickly and easily create a negative fill light.

This video was first shared by Indie Cinema Academy. Thanks for sharing, guys!

If you want to learn more about creating a negative fill, check out a few of the following resources:

Have any experience with working with negative fill? Please share in the comments below.