Nicholson Ren | Cinematographer & Colourist

What's Left Production Diary

Shot Breakdown - Low Budget Lighting Set ups

This page will show the different lighting set ups which I used to light the houses which we shot the past scenes in. For some I had to fake day for night and night for day. The equipment I had available remained the same for every set up so I had an interesting challenge to use what we had to create something unique each time. 

Lighting equipment for this project consisted of: 2x 672s Aputure LED light, 3x Red heads, CTO/CTB gels, reflectors and diffusers.

Episode 1


Ep 1.1 light breakdown.jpg

For the majority of the shots in this bedroom I had only one practical to motivate all the lighting choices I had to make. I used an Aputure LED with 1/2 CTO as a side light for little Brittany and highlight her brother's face. The blinds were fully drawn to block out any daylight spillage. One mistake I made here was not using a cutter to block the light spill on the cabinet - you can clearly see the shadow of the knobs made from the LED light.


Ep 1.2 light breakdown.jpg

The moonlight was made from one redhead with a full CTB gel pointed down at the final position of the actress. I had to position the blinds so that they faced the actress as she made her way across the room from A to B. I raised the light above the ceiling to mimic the position of the moon and to prevent direct light shining into the camera. The small lamp in the corner was fitted with a 1/2 CTO gel but it wasn't powerful enough to make a difference to the scene.

Episode 2

Day for Night


We shot this scene after sundown and I had to fake day for night. I bounced a red head with 1/2 CTB into the top corner of the room to bring up the levels and then directed a small LED with a diffuser onto the cupboard to soften the light as much as possible in front of the actors to just highlight their faces. Another redhead with 1/2 CTB was directed into a reflector from a high angle to simulate the direct sunlight that would've been coming in. This became one of my favourite set ups from the shoot because of how simple the shot looks without guessing that it was a day for night fake. 

Episode 4



This set up was slightly more complicated than it probably should be but hopefully the theory makes sense. I firstly blocked out the bottom half of the door windows so that the natural light comes in as if the sun was up high. I enhanced that sunlight by bouncing a redhead into the ceiling in the same position. This created a softer backlight for the dad, separating him from the background and also brings up the ambience in the room. The sunlight also acted as the keylight for little Mercedes. To balance out the sunlight I bounced another redhead into the back corner to fill the dad who's facing away from the light. I also blacked out the 2nd floor window to darken the stairway which Mercedes would run up to. This would help to focus the attention onto the characters in the foreground and in order to add more detail into the background I had a 1/2 CTO placed into a table lamp but closed off the curtain to prevent light spilling into the room.

Episode 5

Dorm Room

Ep 3.1 breakdown.jpg

The lighting set up for this room isn't my best work. I had the idea having moonlight coming in from the balcony window and highlighting the couple on the bed but our lights weren't powerful enough. I was aiming for a hard light to bounce off the back wall and light them up from there but because it didn't work out I had to increase the ambience in the room through a red head bouncing light off a corner. The table lamps and it's pattern were too classy for the scene, they created an atmosphere that seemed above the dorm room setting which the scene was supposed to be in. 

The red heads outside were a full CTB with 1/2 white and a 1/2 CTB with 1/2 white. The red head in the corner was just left as is. Looking back, the blue colour of the moonlight is now much too strong without it affecting the scene. If I couldn't have gotten it to reach the middle of the room I should have lowered the intensity and tried to cast a softer light onto the window instead.



The bathroom scene was shot with just the existing bathroom lights. The light bar was made up of just 4 naked bulbs that leaned more towards the left side of the room, it was an interesting set up which I decided to keep. I had to block out the bathroom window with a black plastic picnic blanket so that no extra light would leak through since we were shooting day for night. It was one of the most simple set up that was pretty effective.

Nicholson Ren