Lighting Design: It’s Not the Light, It’s Where You Put It

In general, you want your fixtures to be placed at a 45-degree angle from the subject. Higher than this, and you will end up with unflattering shadows.

Lighting Design: It’s Not the Light, It’s Where You Put It
In general, you want your fixtures to be placed at a 45-degree angle from the subject. Higher than this, and you will end up with unflattering shadows.
Lighting Design: It’s Not the Light, It’s Where You Put It
In general, you want your fixtures to be placed at a 45-degree angle from the subject. Higher than this, and you will end up with unflattering shadows.

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Technology Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, May-June 2017
The May-June 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine includes a series of recent articles that appeared on the Worship Tech Director website over the last few months, as part of a special edition, first made available to InfoComm 2017 attendees.
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For many churches, lighting often gets the last of the resources. Audio, video, and environments are usually the first things that come to people’s minds when they think of technology and what to improve.

What many churches miss out on, though, is that lighting is equally as important to effectively communicate the message.

We often think that as long as someone is illuminated, we’ve accomplished our job.

If the pastor is dark, shadows are harsh, or colors are distracting, people can be distracted from the message we are trying to communicate. That’s why even though our lighting setups may be simple, how they’re set up can make the difference between bad light and good light.

That’s why our lighting positions matter.

We often think that as long as someone is illuminated, we’ve accomplished our job. But, the reality is that just as there’s more than one way to mic a pastor, there’s more than one way to light them as well.

Front Lighting Placement

In our house of worship contexts, you will always need, at minimum, front light. At the ground level, the purpose of our lighting is to illuminate that which needs attention drawn to it. If the pastor, baptistery, or soloist is left in the dark, people will be left glancing around the room wondering where the sound is coming from.

We’ll move on to using multiple fixtures in a moment, but what do you do if you just have one light?

What is our formula for success?

In general, you want your fixtures to be placed at a 45-degree angle from the subject. Higher than this, and you will end up with unflattering shadows. Lower, and you will blind your subject and wash out your background. Still, this will get you a fairly even wash on your light that generally everyone will find acceptable, albeit with some harsher shadows under the chin and nose.

Even more ideal than one light, however, is two lights. This is the best way to illuminate someone from the front, and gives you complete coverage of the subject, while allowing you to create more dynamic looks using shadows across their face and body. Here, 45 degrees is still our magic number. We want to position our lights 45 degrees to the left and right, and 45 degrees up. Again, these are just general numbers, and are subject to change according to your venue. This is the most natural way to illuminate somebody from the front, giving the subject a more three-dimensional look, and eliminates all the major shadows.


More About Greg Saffles
Greg Saffles is the Creative Director at Shoreline Church in Knoxville, Tenn. He has a passion for using environments in the local church to display the glory of God. Previous to Shoreline, he spent four years as lighting designer at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. During this time, he discovered a passion for using production to bring glory to God, the use of technology within the church, and for the creative process as a whole.
Get in Touch: [email protected]    More by Greg Saffles

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, May-June 2017
The May-June 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine includes a series of recent articles that appeared on the Worship Tech Director website over the last few months, as part of a special edition, first made available to InfoComm 2017 attendees.


Article Topics

Technology · Lighting · Visual Arts · Lighting Design · Angle · Illuminate · IMAG · Lighting Design · Measurements · Placement · All Topics

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