Lighting on Location One location, the simple job of lighting is complicated by a large amount of light that already exists, provided by many sources. At the wrong place, from the wrong angle, of the wrong quantity, and probably of the wrong colour! Limited to the items that can be transported, supported, and supplied with power.
Lighting on Location With increasing equipment portability, and the need for reality, more productions now include sections that have to be shot away from the studio. Not only will you have too much light, you may also have too little lighting tools. Treat them as separate issues / problems so as to address them properly.
Lighting Outdoor Soft or hard, cloudy or sunny, daylight tends to come in large quantities, and comes in horizontally. If you can’t remove it, align the camera and subject so the lighting direction is helpful rather than intrusive. The most common approach is to think of the sun as your key light, and where it should come from.
Lighting Outdoor Sunshine gives hard shadows, which if they’re not in the right position for the shot, can be intrusive. Adding diffusion between the sun and the subject can soften the sunlight.
Lighting Outdoor Use a reflector to reflect the natural key light. This fills in the shadow created by the light source. You can also use anything with a reflective surface, e.g. Styrofoam, white board.
Lighting Indoor The most common issue is when an external window is in the shot. The large difference in light levels between the room and the outside view makes it difficult to find the correct exposure. Add more light to the room, or Reduce light from the window
Lighting Indoor Add more light to the room Any extra light you can shine on the subject will decrease the contrast ratio between them and the window. Reflectors can be used if appropriate. Cheat method – switch on the room lighting, though this can introduce problems such as clashing colour temperatures or harsh downward shadows.
Lighting Indoor Reduce light from the window Tape black scrim (a fine mesh material) onto the window. You can see that the background is more manageable through the scrim. If the entire window is in the shot, you need to be careful and discreet with the scrim and find the right fit to the window. It is easier if only part of the window is in shot.
Planning for Lighting As with everything else, organized forethought and planning will help to achieve good lighting results. Here are some of the basic questions to ask when structuring a lighting plan.
Questions Is the shoot in studio or on location?1. Will you have complete control over lighting, or will you have to deal with ambient lighting. How big is the acting area?1. The size of the area to be seen on camera determines how much light you need.2. You need more light to illuminate a football pitch than a coffee table top.
Questions What time of year is the shoot?1. Think of the difference between a day in July (dry season) and a day in December (wet season).2. The difference between Summer and Winter. Which way is south?1. As the day progresses, the sun travels from east to west via south.2. Towards dusk or dawn, there will be significant changes in the angle and colour of light.
Questions What is the weather forecast?1. A cloudy sky gives blue diffused light.2. A bright sun gives warm light, bright highlights, and very hard shadows.3. Rain creates limitless havoc. Will there be any ambient light?1. Not just daylight, but any kind of irremovable, uncontrollable light that needs to be incorporated.2. E.g. Street lamps, neon signs, etc.
Questions Are there any windows?1. Windows let in daylight – your friend or your enemy.2. Where is it? What power supply is available?1. If none is available, then lighting must be battery powered (expensive) or ambient (difficult to control).2. If additional power is brought in (generator), then the total capacity needs to be known so that lighting can be planned within its limits.