Make the Most of Outdoor Lighting in Video

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Videos are a great way for businesses to connect with their customers. Especially now, when so much of life has moved online, videos can help bridge the gap and create community. Shooting videos outdoors is even more engaging than shooting in a studio. Many beginners are intimidated because of the complexities of getting outdoor lighting just right. However, if you keep a few tips in mind, you will be on your way to making fun, engaging videos for your customers.

Make “magic hours” work for you.

What is this? It’s the hours right around sunrise and sunset. They’re magic because the outdoor lighting is perfect. It’s soft enough not to cause harsh shadows. But the sun is bright enough that the colors are rich and beautiful.

Typical times are 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. This varies a lot based on the season and your location. You can find smartphone apps that will remind you when magic hours are in your area, so you can plan your videos around the best light. Don’t get too hung up on the perfect outdoor lighting, though! The most important thing is to connect with people.

Find shade and don’t be afraid of overcast days.

You won’t always be able to film during magic hours. Filming in the shade is another way to create more even, diffused light. The same goes for overcast days. Think of it as a natural shade on the sun and get outside.

Practice in several different locations.

You’ll quickly discover what draws in your audience. Experiment with times and places, then make a list of what works best.

Outdoor Lighting + Camera Settings = Engaging Videos

Play with settings to get the best looking videos.

If you shoot videos on your smartphone with automated settings, you’ll notice sometimes they’re nice and crisp and other times they’re very grainy. This can be due to the way your phone’s camera is capturing the outdoor lighting. Learn how to adjust the f-stop and ISO.

Wait, what are f-stop and ISO?

F-stop means how much light the aperture is letting into the camera. A higher f-stop means less light is going into the camera.

ISO refers to the sensitivity of the lens to light. A lower ISO will give you a darker image, while a higher ISO will give you a brighter image. However, the more you boost the ISO, the grainier the image will be. Cameras will have a native ISO, which will give you the clearest images. You can find this out by Googling. Sometimes you’ll want to have a very crisp video, while other times you might want the more gritty, organic look that comes with higher ISO. As you get more comfortable shooting video with outdoor lighting, you can use these settings to help you tell your story.

Consider investing in equipment.

You can shoot perfectly fine videos just using a smartphone. However, some equipment may help improve the quality of the video and reduce time spent editing.

  • A microphone. The built-in microphone is probably pretty low quality and omni-directional. This means it picks up sound from all around the environment. A uni-directional microphone will pick up sound only from the direction it’s pointed in. This is a big help in cutting down on wind noise and background noise in general.
  • An exterior light. There may be times when you really need to film and there isn’t enough light. Adding artificial light will help improve the quality of the video, while allowing you to film in less than ideal lighting situations.

We encourage you to jump in to making videos. Take a walk this evening when the outdoor lighting is at its best. Show your community where you are and what you’re doing. As you get more comfortable with video, incorporate more of these tips into your process.


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