- Video Lighting Techniques: Natural Lighting
- Video Lighting Techniques: Hard Lighting
- Video Lighting Techniques: Soft Lighting
- Video Lighting Techniques: Key Lighting
- Video Lighting Techniques: Backlighting
- Video Lighting Techniques: Practical Lighting
- Final Thoughts on Lighting Techniques for Video
When creating high-quality video and photo content, lighting is crucial. Whether you are a vlogger filming videos for YouTube, an influencer creating digital content for social media, or a director making documentaries or short films, lighting can make or break your projects.
In this lighting guide, we share six cinematic lighting techniques that will dramatically improve the quality of your videos and that you can also use when taking photos. From natural lighting to soft/hard lighting to practical lighting, you will learn what they are, how to create them, when to apply them, and more.
Additionally, we recommend a one-of-a-kind piece of videography gear you can use when practicing all the lighting techniques covered in this article - StandDaddy. As you can see above, StandDaddy allows you to quickly and easily stabilize your tripod without bulky, messy sandbags in the way. More on that later, though…
Now, without further ado, it’s time to dive in and discover six game-changing video lighting techniques guaranteed to help take your video and photo skills to the next level!
Table of Contents
Video Lighting Techniques: Natural Lighting
Check out the video above by Aidin Robbins to learn how to shoot great video footage in natural light.
If you are lucky enough to be filming outside or in a place with good natural lighting, take advantage of it! Nature light is free, doesn’t require heavy/expensive equipment, and perfectly mimics real life. Moreover, it’s extremely flattering on skin tones and faces, making it ideal for filming people.
The problem with natural light is that it’s unpredictable and not always available. To combat this, you can prepare for your shoots by location scouting in advance and looking at the sun/weather forecast. Moreover, bounce boards, diffusion screens, and flags are fantastic ways to manipulate natural light in your favor.
Video Lighting Techniques: Hard Lighting
Check out the video above by Brady Bessette to find out how to make hard light look beautiful when filming video.
The signature features of hard lighting are its harsh shadows and heavy contrast. Although you will typically want to avoid these two things when shooting video and taking pictures, hard lighting looks gorgeous in a handful of situations. Examples include creating dramatic silhouettes/highlights and guiding attention to a particular area or subject.
The best way to create hard lighting is to use an artificial light source and point it directly at your scene or subject. To ensure your light doesn’t change when recording, we recommend stabilizing your lighting stand using StandDaddy’s innovative stabilizer system.
It’s a one-of-a-kind stabilization system that is practical, easy to set up, and affordable - just place a barbell weight over the tripod leg, add StandDaddy below it, and you’re all set!
On top of that, you can use StandDaddy with lighting stands, boom stands, and more. The StandDaddy is more effective and cheaper than traditional sandbag weights, with an 8-pack costing $96.95 and a 4-pack costing only $57.95.
Video Lighting Techniques: Soft Lighting
Check out the video above by FXhome to learn the difference between soft and hard lighting.
In contrast, soft lighting eliminates shadows, replicates natural lighting, and creates tender and emotional moods. It is flattering on the skin, gives people a youthful appearance, and frequently reduces or hides wrinkles and other unwanted blemishes.
Technically speaking, soft lighting doesn’t refer to any specific light source. When creating soft light, you want to use large light sources, avoid spotlighting, and diffuse the light as much as possible.
Video Lighting Techniques: Key Lighting
Check out the video above by Digital Camera World to watch an introduction to key and fill lighting.
Key lighting is the most commonly used video lighting technique and is also called the “main film light.”. It is the brightest light in any scene and is typically used on the main character, subject, area, etc., where you are trying to draw attention.
To use this technique, you use a standard three-point lighting setup consisting of a key light, backlight, and fill light. The one main thing you must avoid when key lighting is placing the light source too near the camera. If the light is too close, your frame will look flat and unrealistic. You can also use high key lighting and low key lighting video lighting techniques.
Video Lighting Techniques: Backlighting
Check out the video above by DSLR Video Shooter to find out how to create dramatic backlighting.
To make your videos look more professional and three-dimensional, you should incorporate backlighting. It helps separate subjects, such as people and objects, from the background and gives your footage a more realistic and natural feel.
As its name would suggest, backlighting is done by placing your light source (natural or artificial) behind your subject. You will almost always want to place the light above your subject and diffuse the light. You can also use backlighting to create more pronounced silhouettes and halo effects.
Video Lighting Techniques: Practical Lighting
Check out the video above by Sjoerd Wess to discover how to work with practical lighting when making movies.
Last but not least, practical lighting is one of our absolute favorite video lighting techniques. It’s a fun and artistic way to add regular day-to-day light sources to your videos. Professional cinematographers love adding practical light to their sets, especially when shooting nighttime scenes. Examples include televisions, candles, streetlights, flashlights, lamps, etc.
Another clever way to play around with practical lighting sources is by using different temperatures and colored bulbs. Doing this lets you set a mood and play with the audience's emotions.
Final Thoughts on Lighting Techniques for Video
Incorporating the six video lighting techniques discussed in this article into your shoots is an excellent way to enhance the quality of your photo and video content. While they are all relatively easy to use, it may take a bit of patience to get your desired look. With that in mind, we are confident you will shoot like a pro after a little practice!
And remember, if you are looking for videography gear to help with your video lighting techniques, one of our favorite items currently on the market is the unique tripod stabilizer system by StandDaddy!