Lighting Diagrams

721 615 Tim Breaseale

blog_diagramHave you ever envisioned a photo shoot and got out paper and a pencil to sketch the lighting diagram that you would use?  If you have an iPad, there is a cool app that lets you design your lighting diagrams with ease.  This app is called Sylights, and the best part is that it’s FREE!  I just installed it yesterday and really like it.  You will find your basic lighting modifiers, strobes and speed lights.  You have a choice of cameras and subjects.  The backgrounds only come in what looks to be roll paper in white or black colors.  One of the improvements that I think would be cool is different backgrounds.  I would like to see a wall with a choice of textures.  I would also like to see some basic outlines for props.  Another improvement with Sylights would be the ability to show the diagram from camera position.

If you are setting up a production and have assistants, this app lets you e-mail the diagram.  Being able to e-mail the diagram is very handy for the lighting assistants and set designers.  This makes it easy for everyone to know what lighting is going to be used and how the photographer wants the scene set up.  Below is my first diagram using Sylight.

Basic one light with reflector

One of the cool things about the app is that when you pick your equipment, you can make notes for each piece of equipment.  Like the diagram above, I could say, set the subject mark 2 feet from background.  Place the main light to meter at f/8 (4 feet from subject) and position the reflect to get a meter reading of f/5.6.

Keeping track of your lighting diagrams is also a good way to reference back just in case you need to set up identical lighting for a reshoot or sharing with a friend.  It’s also handy if you have ideas of future shoots your working on.

While playing around with this app, I e-mailed it to myself just to see how it would render in an e-mail.  Below is how the information was sent in my e-mail, above is how the diagram looks.

Sylights diagram – Basic-one light wrap around light


Basic one light set up.  Wrap around light, soft transitions because of large 3-5 foot modifier.



Canon 6D with 70-200 f/2.8 or 24-70 f/2.8


Subject close to the background, 1 foot or closer.

White reflector
Optional for fill

About f/5.6 for main. Rotolux 3-5 foot.  About 1.5′ above head, tilted down about 20 degrees.

White backdrop
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Thank you for using Sylights for iPad. If not already done, you can join us to create diagrams, help strobists, share with the world and discover new ways of fun with your lights on

Another app I played with is Paper.  Paper is a sketch and painting application.  I sketched these out before I found the Sylights app.

Sketch 1Sketch 2

It’s fun to sketch out the diagrams, but it’s also nice to have a neat and legible lighting diagram.  For more information go check out their site Sylights, I recommend this app.