What is Fill light and how can it help your lighting design?


Fill light and key light work together to highlight the details of your scene. Fill light intensity is typically half of that of key light. Fill lights do not always have to be actual lights; a reflector can often suffice.

We’re excited to share our latest blog, “What is Fill Light, and How Can it Help Your Lighting Design?” Here, we explore the world of videography and photography, exploring the concept of the fill light and its importance in creating stunning visual results.

Fill light is the extra light used in photography and film to brighten up a subject or reduce harsh shadows. The fill light is often used in conjunction with a key light and the main light source to separate the subject from the background.

The lighting design is crucial to any successful photo or film project. Lighting can make or ruin a shot. It’s also essential to produce a visually pleasing and professional-looking final product. Lighting can add character and mood to scenes, making them more interesting and engaging.

What is Fill light, and how can it help your lighting design?

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What is a Fill Light?

A fill light in photography or cinematography is an additional light source that brightens a subject to remove harsh shadows.

The fill light works with the main lighting, which is the predominant light source. It also works with the backlight to separate the subject from the backdrop. Fill light is used in order to add extra light to darkened areas of a photograph, creating a more natural and balanced image.

You can use it to make a photograph appear more alive and three-dimensional and to remove harsh shadows and highlights, creating a balanced and pleasing exposure.

Photographers and videographers need to use fill light, which can be either natural or artificial. It is an essential tool that allows them to create stunning visual effects.

What is the purpose of a fill light?

Calculating your contrast ratio (the difference between your lightest and darkest area of your shot).

Fill light is a technique that adds extra light to darkened areas of a photograph, creating a balanced and more natural image. By reducing harsh highlights and shadows, it gives a picture more depth and dimension.

Fill light is essential in videography and photography to create a visually pleasing image. Fill light can be used to create different moods and ambiances, from romantic and delicate to dramatic and cinematic.

By understanding how to use fill light, you can create spectacular visual effects in your lighting design.

Fill Lights in Different Lighting Setups

When creating a YouTube or commercial lighting setup, your fill light will be secondary to the key light. It should, therefore, be used to counteract the shadows created by your key lighting rather than build its own. When deploying the fill light, you must consider three factors.

There’s also the question of quality. Fill lights are usually diffused and soft to avoid shadows. You can use a diffuser if the shadows from the main light are too strong and competing with them.

The intensity of your fill light should also be considered. The key/fill or fill light ratio is the ratio between the amount of light coming from the key and the amount of light coming from the fill. The key light is always stronger than the fill light. However, using more filler will produce a shot that’s brighter and more softly illuminated. Less fill light will result in an image with more contrast and defined highlights.

Start with a ratio of 2:1, where the key light is twice as bright as a fill light. This creates a soft lighting effect, with fewer shadows and less contrast.

Lighting fixtures

Fill light is often a light less intense than the key light. If you are using an umbrella or softbox as your key light, you can use another lower-intensity light as your fill.

You can use a ringlight as a filllight. Try using something practical to give the fill light an organic feel. This could be anything, from a table lamp to a mobile phone or tablet.

Bounce Cards and Reflectors

It has been stated that your fill light doesn’t have to come from a lighting device. Bounce boards and reflectors work well for fill lighting. A mirror will help you fill in shadows when shooting in natural light.

However, they are not limited to shooting on location. You can use them in the studio or set if you don’t need a powerful light source. A reflector will bring out the details in a scene without sacrificing contrast.


The key light will reflect softly off walls that are white or pale. This is a great trick to get the most out of your set. Just make sure that your subjects are in the right place so the light can fall on them and lift the shadows as you desire.

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