Tip #1028: 4 Tips to Better Natural Lighting

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1028: 4 Tips to Better Natural Lighting

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Natural lighting does not mean “hands-off.” It just means “unplugged.”

(Image courtesy of pexels.com.)

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This article first appeared in MotionArray.com. This is a summary.

The capabilities of digital cameras today make this style of shooting easier than ever because of their high sensitivity. ISO 800 has become a standard rating for most cinema cameras, and some are pushing even further, like the Panasonic Varicam which has dual native ISO’s of 800 and 5000. At 5000 ISO, you can likely get a proper exposure with simple street lamps.

But just because you can get a proper exposure doesn’t make it good lighting. Here are some things to keep in mind as you set up for your next scene using the sun as your primary light source.

  1. Maximize the Natural Light with Tools. There are lots of tools that can help you harness or shape the light you have. Bounce boards, reflectors, and diffusion frames can all help soften a source or redirect it.
  2. Location, Location, Location. A DP friend once said that 90% of his job is a good location. An interesting location can make simple, straightforward lighting look amazing, while the most interesting lighting in the world won’t save you from a drab or blasé set. When it comes to natural or available light, you should have three concerns: exposure, depth, and quality.
  3. Time. Available light is ruled by the time of day. If you’re shooting outdoors, midday can be very difficult; the light is generally softer and more even in the “golden” hour after sunrise or before sunset. On the other hand, shooting indoors with window light can be a lot better in the middle of the day simply because the light coming through the window will be stronger, giving you a better exposure inside. This all means that shooting with available light is an exercise in patience and scheduling.
  4. Use LED Fixtures. Okay, so this one is a bit of a cheat. But thanks to LED technology, it’s getting easier and easier to sneak relatively bright sources into a scene with just a small LED panel/strip and a battery. Even if you can’t set up a “regular” light, it might be a good idea to rig up a couple of battery-powered LED fixtures and use them to accent your available light.


The article, linked above, has more details, examples and links.

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