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At Mygirlfund we are constantly amazed at the innovation, and quality of the media that the young women produce on a daily basis. You can take a glance to the left to see the Tumblr photo contest for many examples of this.

The winners of our contest often are not using the best DSLR’s, or even fancy point and shoots. We have had cellphone pictures take first place! The common denominator in all of our first place entries is lighting. It really does make all the difference.

Instead of giving you a bunch of science about exposure values, lens apertures, and ISO ranges, we are going to give you one simple diagram that you can adapt for your own purposes in your unique situation. Using and adapting this lighting scheme for your own purposes will make your pictures improve drastically.

Basic lighting setup you can adapt for camming, and photography

First lets talk about the back light. Notice how the light is NOT aimed directly at the camera, but rather off to the side about 45 degrees. This will serve as a hair light, and help your outline stand out against your background, as well as dimming the room behind you, making the focus fall on you, instead of your background.  By focus we mean this quite literally. If your cam, camera or DSLR lens auto-focuses, this will improve its speed and accuracy by 100%. The contrast that the back-light provides should not be ignored for either photography, or video production.

You do NOT need professional lights to make this work.

A simple lamp can serve the same purpose! Just try and make sure that all of your lightbulbs you are using are the same kind and color. This is important especially for post production white balance corrections etc.

Next lets talk about the key light, pictured on the left. This will be your brightest light, and if you are camming or doing a video this light can be blinding, so make sure it isn’t pointed directly at your eyes, to avoid squinting. Aim the middle of the light somewhere just off to the side, above or below your face.

Your fill light pictured on the right is there to control shadows. You don’t want big rings under your eyes, or a large shadow under your chin or nose. The fill light helps tame the harsh side effects of bright lights. Use the fill light wherever you are seeing too much shadow, or a lot of grain in your photos. You can add more than one fill light where you need it, but make sure that your brightest single light remains your key light. If you use 60 watt lightbulbs in your lamps, then buy one lightbulb that is a higher wattage, but the same color light. Make sense? With a simple trip to the light bulb aisle at your grocery store, you can set up a 3 point lighting scheme that will give you flawless, soft lighting that is versatile enough for any application.

Want more lighting tips, or media production tips like this? Leave a comment and let us know!