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Tactic Three: Cheat The Sun

If you insist on venturing into the bright sun, mount a spotlight on your camcorder and use that for the key light. Face subjects away from the sun, using it as backlight, and provide fill with a bounce board. If the camera has a Spotlight mode, which desaturates pixels at the center of the frame, turn it on to tone down the spot and avoid blowing out the highlights.

You can see a good example of this technique in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones when Luke returns to Tatooine. Even though this big-budget HD production no doubt had the luxury of all the movie lights they needed to provide fill, notice that the sun is always at the actors' backs when they are in the bright afternoon sun on desert sand.

Another useful technique is to avoid dressing your subjects in dark-colored clothing. This helps narrow the contrast range. In many of Episode II's scenes, notice that most of the costumes have about the same medium-toned grayscale value. Distinctions between characters are made instead with color—dressing the stars in the warmer tones so your eye is drawn to them.

For more lighting tips and techniques, see Chapter 6, "Lighting for DV," on page 135 of Real World Digital Video Second Edition and visit our Web site at Send your questions and comments to Gerald at

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