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Don't Fight the Sun

Videographers on a budget, however, can do a respectable job of shooting outdoors by using the sun rather than fighting it.

First, remember the three elements of classic, three-point lighting:

  • Key light is the main highlight on the subject. It's usually hard (casts sharp shadows) and comes from above and in front of the subject.

  • Fill is area lighting on the opposite front side of the subject, usually a soft light that fills in shadows cast by the key light (thereby reducing overall contrast range and flattering the subject).

  • Backlight comes from behind the subject and helps separate it from the background, giving the illusion of depth.

Assemble Your Tools

Besides the sun, you'll also need:

  • Bounce board—a large white card (such as foam-core) to reflect soft light—used for the soft key and fill

  • Shiny board—a bounce board with an aluminum-foil surface to reflect hard light—used for the key light (pro boards are two-sided—shiny and dull)

  • Flag—an opaque panel, usually black felt, for masking light

  • Silk—a panel of translucent white cloth or plastic, used to filter and soften a hard-light source

A production assistant can hold and position a panel during a shot or you can mount the reflector or mask on a C-stand (heavy-duty, all-purpose, hold-everything tripod used by movie crews).

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