Tricks to Use Outdoor Available Light to Get The Best Video Shots



Some of your shooting assignments will require you to do the job with minimum lighting equipment.

You may have to make do with the light available at the scene of the shooting.

If you find yourself in such a situation, then here are a few tips that can help you do justice to your video project in terms of lighting.

Preparation
If you're shooting in a new location unfamiliar to you, visit the location in advance and study the lighting at about the same time you'll be shooting.

Gauge the amount of lighting available. Is it good enough to shoot well in it? Would you need additional lighting equipment?

Camera Settings
Sometimes it's not the lighting at the location which determines the exposure quality of your shots. If you find that what you see in viewfinder doesn't translate to the footage, then you may do well to tweak your camera exposure settings.

So, it pays to really familiarize yourself with your camera settings from the day you get hold of it. Do test shots before your main project to study the effect of different exposure settings. Thoroughly read your camera manual and be very knowledgeable about how to override your camera's automatic settings so that you're prepared when the situation demands it.

Equipment Preparation
Always be ready with some backup lighting equipment even if the available light in the shooting spot is excellent. You don't know when the situation will change. So, it's wise to prepare yourself for such an eventuality by having on standby fill lights and extra reflectors just in case your camera settings don't help.

Daytime Available Light  

If your video assignment requires you to shoot spontaneously without a proper lighting set up as in a documentary, you would have to pay attention to where your key light is.- you want to check the direction of the sunlight.

As a general rule avoid shooting with the key light behind your subject.  You could do well to shoot your subject with the key light shining from the from left or right. 

Also use reflectors to get bounce lighting for softer effect and to reduce unnecessary shadows.  

Generally speaking the best condition would be an overcast day as it provides diffused light and you don't have to worry about shadows.

If the sun is shining brightly then avoid shooting between 11am and  3pm. This is the period when the sun is high up in the sky and its flat overhead lighting produces shadows with deep contrast.

If you have no choice, then you may want to put the subject under a tree  to diffuse the harsh sunlight.   

Shooting With Available Light At Night
What are the available light options available if you're shooting at night. If there's a porch light available, try to shoot away from it by bouncing the light on to the subject. 

Also, be careful not to place the subject directly under the light. You may end up with shadows under the eyes, nose and chin.

If there's no other lighting source available, then you can use car lights.  But these light are hard and give the effect of spotlights. But then you can cleverly bounce them off to create a good lighting effect. It will be trickier to do this and you'll have to use all your creativity to get a good lighting effect.