Effective Use of Ambient Lighting For Videos (Link Roundup)


If you have shot many videos in the past, then you probably already know that it is difficult to control the lighting conditions in some venues, specifically the ones that are outside of a studio. Shooting a professional looking video can be a bit of a challenge. Internal locations can also be places with poor lighting (examples are convention centers, hotels and other internal settings).

If you must shoot a video in adverse conditions, then it would be best to bring your own lighting. If in case this is not an option, then it’s time to study how you can use ambient lighting in recording video footage.

By definition, ambient light means light that can already be seen in a setting prior to the addition of any kind of light. This often refers to natural light (light coming from the sun or moon) or it can also be the artificial room lights.

Ambient Lighting – Friend or Foe?

Ambient lighting can either work for or against you. Clearly, this is important in video and photography since most shots are wholly shot using ambient lights. Unfortunately, this kind of light can also be a nuisance when it conflicts with what the video producer is trying to achieve.

Ambient lighting could provide the wrong light direction, temperature or color intensity. Should this be the case, the videographer can opt to block out the existing light and replace it with an artificial one. Doing this isn’t always practical, though. There are moments when compromises have to be made.

But if you will have the chance to look back at history’s greatest videos and films, you will find that most were shot with only ambient lighting. Unusual lights can turn regular shots into pictures or videos that are so powerful, they can captivate and inspire. 

Finding the Best Light for Poor Lighting Conditions

Finding the best light means looking for the best possible location for the video shoot. Be sure to position your subject at a point where you can see the catch light right on his or her face. Never position your subject in front of the light. If you see that the light is reflected on the subject’s eyes, then you have just found the best location with perfect lighting conditions.

Meter the Scene

Generally, the method used for exposure is through the camera’s exposure meter. When shooting a video using a compact camera, be sure that you determine the exposure and the camera’s shutter speed, aperture and, in some cases, the ISO.

In metering a scene, the light meter usually averages the scene to about 18% gray. A scene with many bright areas could lead to a misreading, thus, the camera could compensate for this by reading a dark exposure. In order to fix this, choose a wider aperture. For darker scenes, go the other way.

Use the incident light meter in order to get an accurate reading.

A major part of ambient lighting is exposure as well as color balance and color of the light. Your major source of light is the sun while those commonly found in homes include fluorescent or tungsten light.

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