How to Imitate Window Light Inside a Studio

How do you create soft window light for a shoot in an artificially lit indoor room without an actual widow? Jay P Morgan takes us through the paces, explaining how he did it:

Before we begin let’s talk about window light. Window light is a large natural light source, so it’s soft and produces very little shadow.

Morgan’s shoot is for a kitchen product on a white set for a high key effect. When you throw in the concept of window light, it creates an upbeat, positive mood, which is perfect for a product of this nature.

Key Light

First, Morgan set up a large 12 x 12 shoot-through silk screen.

lighting for a commercial kitchen shoot

This screen is translucent property, which means any light fired through it becomes large and wraps around the corners and fills in shadows.

window light photography

The zoom lights threw an incredible amount of light to fill the 12 foot screen.

Directional Light

Morgan used a third light positioned just next to the silk screen and pointing toward the models.

artificial window light setup

This hard directional light added a bit of highlight to shadow ratio and opened up the models’ faces.

Fill Light

Even with the hard light in place, the lighting wasn’t perfect. So, Morgan brought in an Ultra bounce, which is another 12′ x 12′ screen.

studio lights to mimic window light

But unlike the shoot-through translucent surface of the silk screen, this one is a harder surface designed for bouncing light. It bounced light from the key light.

Light Floor

Light floor signifies the amount of light in the room. In other words, the amount of exposure that exists in the room. It’s easy to create a good exposure when you’re by a window, because there is already a lot of light to go around. But when you’re shooting inside a room with no windows, you will have to create all that light yourself.

window light for photo and video

To bring up the light inside the room, Morgan used a set of Aputure 120d LED lights. Several of these lights were aimed at the walls to bring up the exposure.

how to mimic window light

Rim Light

A rim light (Aputure 120d LED) behind the talent isolated them from the background.

How to Create Window Light

Finally, Morgan used a Silk 210 light as a roving key light. It produces a very soft light, which was moved around to provide that extra bit of punch.

Exposure

Morgan set his exposure to f/4. He wanted an all-white setup. His meter kept telling him that he was overexposing, because it’s programmed to make everything middle-grey. To keep things all white, Morgan needed to expose at least a stop over what the meter told him to—probably a stop and a half to be safe.

light setup for soft high key shoot

Though Morgan used this setup for a video shoot, the same principles apply to still photography. Give it a try!

For further training: Fantastic Fundamental Light Skills at 70% Off

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