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Shooting Outside

It’s one thing to configure lighting in a dark room where you have absolute control. But the rules become much more slippery when you’re filming outside, where the sun and clouds can change the lighting from moment to moment. No matter where you’re filming, you can make choices that take advantage of the weather.

  • Avoid shooting in the middle of the day when the sun is directly overhead. A key light from above casts shadows down across the face, which obscures a person’s eyes and can give the appearance of a hung-over Frankenstein (Figure 4.7).

    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7 Shooting in the middle of the day can create sharp shadows.

  • Clouds are your friends. A good layer of cloud cover is an excellent diffuser of sunlight, providing a more even level of light in your scene. Coupled with a few well-placed bounce cards and a fill light, a typical cloudy day can provide warmer tones than you might expect.
  • Shade is also your friend. Again, you want to minimize high-contrast key lighting and enhance the balance between shadows and fill light. Move to the shade of a tree (which can also provide its own unique shadow textures, depending on the tree) or to the side of a building.
  • To maximize natural light, shoot early or late in the day, when the sun is near the horizon. The light isn’t as harsh, you can get some very intriguing shadows, and the color of the scene is generally warmer and more inviting.
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