Posted May 12, 2015 by Gavin Hoey in Videos

Making The Most of Motivated Lighting

Motivated light is a term that’s more normally used in the world of the movies but there’s no reason for us stills photographers not to be aware of it and use it to create some great effects.

So what is motivated light? Put simply if you can see (or think you can see) the source of the light that’s illuminating the scene, you’re looking at a motivated light. But there’s a bit more to it than that.


Usually I go to great lengths to avoid seeing my lights in the shot, especially if the light is directed towards the camera lens. Even a tiny edge of light in the frame can play havoc with contrast and flare. If I have to see a light I can minimise flare by turning the power right down but then it doesn’t produce the light needed to get the exposure right. So how can I have the motivated light source in the scene and keep control of the exposure?

The answer is… I cheat!

In the video below I’ll look at two ways to create motivated light. The first way is in camera by teaming a low powered flash with a high powered flash that’s out of shot but in the same direction. The second way is by creating the effect in Photoshop.

Of course motivated light doesn’t have to be done like this and by definition motivated light can be something as simple as a window or room light that’s in the shot. So the chances are you have used motivated light in the past without even knowing it.

Model: Kerry Allingham
Make-Up: Anna Matos

Gear used in this video

Canon 5D Mark III www.adorama.com/ICA5DM3.html?KBID=67338

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens www.adorama.com/CA24105AFUC.html?KBID=67338

Flashpoint Light Stand www.adorama.com/FPLS9.html?KBID=67338

Black Rapid RS-7 Strap www.adorama.com/BRRS7.html?KBID=67338

Flashpoint StreakLight 360 Ws Creative Collection www.adorama.com/FPLFSL360K2.html?KBID=67338

Sekonic L-308S Flashmate www.adorama.com/SKL308S.html?KBID=67338

Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Manual On-Camera Flash http://www.adorama.com/FPLFSMZL.html?KBID=67338

Gavin Hoey