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Why Do We Use a Far Side Key? - Shooting at an Office in Denver

Office location shoot in Denver Colorado
Lighting Diagram by Tyler Kaschke, Denver Colorado Gaffer

Why is the far side key a “rule” in lighting?

The goal is to add as much depth and visual interest to an image with light and composition. Shooting into the shadow side of your subject gives the frame that extra little bit of texture to make it more appealing. Areas of light and dark alternate in the frame to give your eye room to wander, but lead back to the subject.

That’s why the result of front lighting a scene feels flat. You’ve just lost your special details in the shadows and there’s nothing for the eye move around. There are occasions where front lighting is necessary for the blocking. And that’s ok.

Photographers do it all the time and make some beautiful images. If you’re forced into a situation where front lighting is necessary, just do what you to shape the face and keep the background interesting without distracting from the subject.

Pointing the camera into the corner of the room gives you more depth and leading lines. You’ll notice that theme repeated in *almost* every nice looking image you’ve ever seen. Wes Anderson is known for breaking that “rule” and shooting flat against a wall. It’s part of his distinctive style. He creates depth with symmetrical styling and light.

This scene was rigged up for a whip pan so no stands on the right side of frame! A 1200D blasting across the room with siders and a bottomer to control spill into a CRLS diff 4 rigged on a Speed C with a solid underneath to keep the light from smoking the desk. Two Astera Titans with Snapgrids for back edge. Two Nanlite 60C’s and an Arri 150 for little hard hits in the background. Everything wirelessly controlled through a RatPac AKS+ and Cintenna receivers into Blackout.

The only lighting changes between the first two images were intensity, color temp, and softness of the key (CRLS diff 3-4) Otherwise they were the exact same.

There are a lot of great office locations to shoot commercials in Denver, Colorado. This one was at a WeWork space downtown.

Director @baffoos

Swing @tongkatt

Art Assist @leahvogel

Art Assist @gaia.0

Tyler Kaschke is a freelance gaffer with G&E and grip truck rentals based in Boulder, Colorado and serving Denver, Golden, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs.

For more information about lighting tips and shooting commercials in Colorado, follow me on Instagram @colorado_gaffer


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