2 May 2021

How to create natural light: A guide to shooting stunning videos with no extra gear

Natural light is one of the most powerful light setups in filmmaking; it can take your cinematography from good to great. 

However, when using a natural resource, there are limitations. You can do a few things to ensure that you are in the best position when shooting your video in natural light.

Filming this way is exciting, creative, and unpredictable. The best mix for producing some fun YouTube videos with friends or your latest indie feature film!

This article will look into the top tips for shooting video on natural light, how you can make natural light, and how you can add more light into the room.

Top tips for shooting video on natural light

Here are our top tips to use when shooting with natural light to allow you to capture intricate and stunning imagery.

With such a powerful light form comes a lot of responsibility. When shooting video in natural light, you have to make sure you're incredibly well prepared and that your setup is inch-perfect.

Let's check the top tips out!

Using the sun as your backlight.

Using the sun, your backlight is incredibly important. Not only will you want to avoid direct sunlight on your actor/object, but you will also want to avoid creating ghastly shadows.

By having the natural light as the backlight of your shot, you will avoid creating large shadows, but you will produce a nicely lit, even shot that will help you create space between the backdrop and your subject.

With the natural light as the backlight, it will perfectly light up your shot and give you the crisp, cinematic shot you desire. 

Choose the right locations. 

Location is key. When using natural light to shoot video, you need to ensure your location has enough natural light coming through.

For example, if you plan on shooting video with just natural light in a house, you must make sure beforehand they have large windows or a skylight to get enough light into the room.

You will need to make sure that there aren't any obstacles outside blocking the light, such as large trees, or front-facing tower blocks. That is why location is key, and you must scope out your location in advance to make sure it has the right resources for you to shoot video in natural light.

Choose the correct camera.

You must choose a camera capable of dealing with natural light that has a lot of range. Whilst shooting in natural light, you will want the camera to deal with the more shadowy areas in the shot to ensure your footage's detail is top quality.

There's nothing worse than getting back to start post-production and playing back the raw footage to see grainy patches in your film's defining scene. It's devastating, so it's a must you choose a camera that's the right fit for the shoot. 

Select a lens capable of capturing quality video in natural light.

When shooting in natural light, you will need to have a lens capable of recording in these conditions. When inside and outside, you will want to have a lens that has wide primes and picks up low contrast.

This will allow you to pick up clear and pristine footage - perfect for editing within post-production.

Prepare, prepare and prepare!

This point covers absolutely everything that links all of the above, and that is preparation.

Preparation is essential. When shooting in natural light, you must prepare carefully for the shoot. Before shooting, it's best to have a schedule in place so you make the most of your shoot.

You will want your crew prepared and ready to go so you can capture your shots meticulously, and plan which angles you want to capture when shooting during the Magic Hour.

Check out our video on shooting stunning videos in natural light over on YouTube.

How can I make natural light?

Making natural light is a tough ask, but it is possible to create the effect of natural light when you lack it. "How to create natural light" is asked often, and this can be for a variety of reasons, you may be shooting in a room without windows, or you may be shooting at an absurd hour in the morning to get the film finished, and there's a need for natural light to peer through a window.

Here's how to create natural light.

  1. Use a big white sheet. It can be a table cloth or a bedsheet, preferably plain white.
  2. Grab some powerful LED lights. These will essentially be your "sun".
  3. Hang up the white sheet where you want your natural light source to come from. Be mindful where you place the white sheet, as you want it to creep in naturally and spread the light evenly across your frame. 
  4. Position your LED lights. You will want to position your LED lights directly behind the white sheet and ensure the light source is diffused correctly.
  5. Add another sheet. If your light is still a little too harsh, add another white sheet to diffuse your light source. This will now give the feel of natural light within your frame.
  6. Ensure your camera settings are correct. Ensure your color temperature settings in your camera match the temperature of your lights.

How can I add more natural light to a room?

Something many filmmakers need help with when looking to shoot only using natural light is how to add more natural light to the room. Here are a few tips you can follow to add more natural light into a room.

  1. Use reflectors and flags. Natural lighting can be reflected a long way, so if you're filming with natural light in a room that needs a bit more, simply reflect the light into the room you are shooting in. Using the reflectors and flags, you can divert the light directly onto your subject and light them subtly. 
  2. Naturally, diffuse the light. By diffusing the light, it allows a softer light setup and the light spreads across your shot evenly, lighting the subject up naturally. It will create depth to the shot and enable you to shoot footage with a natural feel.
  3. Light furniture. Adding light or reflective furniture in the shot can help boost natural light levels in the room. Add a mirror somewhere that will subtly reflect the light into your shot. Light-colored pillows will reflect light too. Depending on your shot's setup, think of different items you can add that are light in color or reflective to boost natural light levels.

We hope this article on how to create natural light was helpful to you. You can check out our latest posts down below.

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