Directional lighting emulates sunlight from any one direction. It casts in a single particular direction, everywhere, and can be controlled on an axis.
Ambient lighting shines in all directions from a source. It simulates a bounced light, but it’s a cheat method that doesn’t look good, don’t use it.
Point light emits from all angles, wherever it is. It’s like a lightbulb.
A spotlight is a light that emits in a cone angle from a particular point. Best type of light. Spotlights can also be blended together, which is useful.
Area light physically creates an area that can be controlled, and that can emit from a particular area, like a window.
Volume light provides light effects based in lights in atmosphere eg fog or smoke. Volume light acts as a 3D object that fills a physical volume.
Light intensity is the strength or brightness of light alreted by distance frpm light source to target.
Light colour is saturation of any colour present in a light
Light linking is used to link a light with surfaces so that only a specific surface or surfaces can be illuminated
Cookies are a device for casting shadows or silhouettes to produce patterned illuminations, like tree patterns. Mostly used to create shadows of something that doesn’t exist, like a stencil.
Three point lighting is a technique which uses 3 different light sources. It contains a key light (the main light source), a fill light (brightens up the shadows) and rim/back light (creates a highlight). Manually controlled.
Depth map shadows are low memory shadow, made once, that won’t change and can be saved as a texture file that is limited by resolution. Can blur the edges
Ray traced shadows produce soft and transparent shadow. Ray traced shadows are physically accurate shadows, which are real time. Their best use is on things that would be difficult to make a solid shadow of, like ones for transparent surfaces, and can make soft edges on the shadows. They are real time and use a lot of memory.
Maya software renderer is the basic renderer available with Maya. They give good results, but other renderers give higher quality rendering.
Mental ray renderer produces higher quality rendering, useful for things such as refractions and reflections.
Arnold renderer is a 3rd party renderer adopted by Maya that makes higher quality results.