Lighting and Shooting Tips



In “The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video,” located at, in chapter 7 Tom Schroeppel discusses lighting. Lighting is different outside and inside. Outside the most common source is the sun, which may be a hindrance because it is always moving and when it is high it can cast shadows on the face of characters. Subjects should face the sun, so the sun lights their faces. If that is not possible, and sun is behind the subject as a backlight or on the side as a sidelight there will be shadows on the subject’s face. To fill them in you can use reflectors. A reflector can be anything that reflects light, including a board covered with silver foil or paint, a white wall, a white poster board, or a piece of canvas. The reflector bounces sunlight into shadows as needed. To get out shadows, you can also use any light as a fill light outside. Make sure that it puts out daylight colored light and matches the brightness of the sun. Another downside is that it requires electricity. 


The basic setup for lighting is to put the key light or main light to a side of the camera at a forty-five-degree angle directly above the subject. This should be the brightest area in the frame. Put the fill light on the other side of the subject. This light should fill the shadows from the key light. There should still be some shadow on the character’s face to give a sense of depth. The backlight should be placed so the light is behind the character’s head and shoulders which separates them from the background. A background light can also be used to light up the background, adding depth. Shooting subjects away from walls and keeping lights high can avoid shadows. Also, dark-colored walls help hide shadows.



Shooting a Sequence

In chapter 9, Schroeppel suggests planning before shooting. Scripts and storyboards can be used. Shoot everything several times from various angles: wide, medium, and close-up. Shoot cutaway shots. Use slates and camera logs for identifying your shots; this will save time when editing. Scenes can also be shot out of order if they will use the same camera position and lighting.


What lighting and shooting tips can you offer for a video project? Let’s talk about it…

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