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How to Shoot DV Outdoors Without Movie Lights

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It's not always possible to use fancy movie lighting when you're shooting your amateur videos. Thankfully, there are ways to work with natural light to provide quality video lighting for your digital videos. Find out how in this article by Gerald Everett Jones.
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How to Shoot DV Outdoors Without Movie Lights

DV—or indeed, any video, whether analog or digital—is particularly difficult to light outdoors. The problem is the limited contrast range of the sensors (CCDs) in video cameras. In video, the range between the lightest and darkest pixel values can't be much more than five f-stops. Outside that range, the lighter values all register as blown-out (100 percent white) and darker areas are either muddy or just black.

Shooting outdoors in bright sunlight is a worst-case scenario. If you stop down (decrease the exposure) so faces and highlights don't blow out, you'll lose all the detail in the shadow areas and even medium-toned clothing will appear way too dark.

Film can reproduce a much wider range of values—showing detail in both the lightest and darkest areas. But that doesn't mean cinematographers like shooting in the sun. Deep shadows are unflattering and will not look good on any of your actors—unless you've hired them to appear menacing and frown a lot.

So when a feature crew shoots outdoors, they take along some of the biggest lights they have to "overpower" the sun and fill in shadows. That's expensive. High-powered lights and related gear are costly in themselves and you'll need a big crew to transport, rig, operate, maintain, and strike them.

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