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Secrets of Getting the Best Daylight for Your Outdoor Video

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/15/2010

If you think the sun will give you all the light you need for your outdoor video, think again. It may wreak havoc on your video if you fail to observe these tips.

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    Here are tips to prevent poor videos as a result of improper outdoor lighting.

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    Choose the Correct Exposure Preset

    Firstly, adjust the exposure preset of your video camera to the `outdoor’ mode if your camera doesn’t have a manual white balance mode. Refer to your video camera manual for instructions. In most cameras this is known as AE (Automatic Exposure) modes ranging from night shooting to sports mode.

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    Avoid Direct Sunlight

    Don’t place your subject under direct sunlight especially late in the morning or early afternoon. Shooting under direct sunlight results in overexposed shots. More often that not, you end up with a flat video image apart from unsightly shadows under the subject’s chin and dark patch around the eyes. Your subjects will also tend to squint, thus interfering with proper facial expression. The heat may also cause discomfort and affect their involvement in your video.

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    Move To Shade

    To prevent the problem, move your subject away from the sun without losing the benefit of the sun’s light. Move the subject to shade, probably under the shadow of a building or under a tree, where the sun’s light is filtered or softened. Move your subject back into the open if you look up and see a blue sky where the sun’s light is muted. You will get better lighting for your video under a blue sky. Alternatively you can choose a spot where the sun’s light is reflected off a bright building. Building with cream, yellow or orange colours will give a warm glow to your video off the sun’s reflected light.

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    Avoid Back Lighting

    Avoid shooting with the sun shining behind the subject. This only serves to darken your subject. The exception is when you’re trying to create a ghostly effect or interviewing a subject who requests anonymity. Also watch out for uplight. This is light reflected up a shiny floor or sidewalk on to the subject. This unnecessary light will create imbalanced exposure for your video.

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    Choose Side Lighting

    As far as possible have the lighting come in from the sides instead of directly above you, The early morning sunlight or late afternoon sunlight is ideal for getting a warm video quality. Light from the sides creates better shadows and adds dimension to your video.

    Keep an alert eye on the daylight quality around you the next time you shoot outdoors. Use the above tips to get the optimum light for your videos.