How To Produce Stunning Footage and Videos in Natural Light

Are you looking to improve your filmmaking skills or are you experimenting with stock photography? Well, you're in luck because shooting in natural light can be a game-changer in creating great video content. The best part is, you don't need to spend a ton of money on lighting equipment. All you need is your camera and some basic tips, and you're good to go.

Before you grab your camera ready to go outside and shoot some footage, here are a couple of things to consider.

Understanding how light and weather influence your subject is crucial in achieving a great result. Here are a couple of situations. 

For instance, midday sunshine can cause heavy shadows on portraits. If you're shooting under the bright mid-day sun, look for some shade to avoid the harsh shadows.

At the same time, the midday sun is great for making water appear more transparent. Let's see what the pros say.

The Golden Hour, which is the hour before sunset and after sunrise, is ideal for capturing warm hues and long shadows. This horizontal angle of the sun can create perfect light conditions for some amazing shots and footage.

When you shoot videos during the Golden Hour, you can use two different styles: shooting into light for a backlit look or shooting with the light coming from behind the camera to create a more saturated look. 

To be more creative you can use a circular polarizing filter to cut glare from water, glass or other surfaces. This will also help make the sky look more blue.

Play with your exposure settings where you will choose to expose the subject or create a silhouette. Custom white balance will also help to capture warmer colors during a sunset. Let's see more about shooting during the Golden Hour.

Twilight, which is the hour directly before sunrise or after sunset, creates a soft and cool color palette that's perfect for adding a calm mood to your footage.

As we mentioned, the Golden Hour and Twilight are great times for natural light shooting, but it's important to consider other times of day as well. For example, shooting during the blue hour (the hour before sunrise or after sunset when the sky is still blue) can create a beautiful blueish tone to your footage that can add a unique visual quality to your work. Here are more tips:

What about overcast days? These are also great to create greate outdoor footage. The bright, diffused sunlight of a cloudy day imparts a cool tone with low contrast, which brings out great details in portraiture and wildlife. Well, let's see more in this short tutorial.

What should you watch out for?

Before shooting your subject, it's crucial to check your settings, especially your white balance. This will tell your camera what should appear white in your image. It's important to ensure you don't end up with an undesirable color cast. 

You'll also want to check the relative sensitivity of your camera sensor to light (ISO) or called gain in traditional video cameras. A higher ISO/gain may introduce more noise and a lack of sharpness. So adjust your ISO settings too.

The direction of light can dramatically affect the mood and tone of your footage. For example, backlit footage can create a silhouette effect that can be very dramatic, while side-lit footage can add depth and texture to your subject. Understanding how the direction of light affects your footage can help you make more intentional creative choices when shooting.

Sometimes, natural light can be too harsh or create unwanted shadows on your subject. Using reflectors and diffusers can help you soften the light and create a more even and flattering light on your subject. Portable reflectors can be used to bounce light onto your subject, while diffusers can be used to create a soft, diffused light.

Don't forget to wear sunscreen while shooting outside under the sun. Also, keep in mind that there are many other factors to consider when shooting in natural light, such as the direction and quality of light, but these tips should help you get started. Happy shooting!