How to Shape Sunlight When Shooting Outdoor Using sunlight, mirrors and lights outdoors for video productions

In this video, Matt Esteron from Aperture takes a quick look at some of the basics of shooting outdoor and combining sunlight with LEDs and reflectors to create a better-looking video.

There are many ways to shoot outdoors in the sun, you can choose to use only the sun as your light and use modifiers, you can choose to block the sun and use lights and you can choose to combine the two in different ways.

This video demonstrates one way of combining the two (there are many other options of course), you do need to remember that whichever way you choose you might face challenges like restrictions on the movement of your subject, avoiding harsh shadows, or changing light conditions. Some you might be able to avoid but others you might need to overcome in other ways (such as choosing better locations, choosing better shooting hours etc.).

Esteron decided to shoot this demo when the sun is setting down. When shooting in direct sunlight, you are going to get a very harsh look with no dimension to your shot. To combat this he chose to use an artificial light source – in this case, two 300D II lights set behind a 4×4 magic cloth – this will marge the two light sources into a single giant light source and diffuse it.

On the opposite side he placed a giant 12×12 ultrabounce to reflect light to the other side of the talent and add fill. Finally, for the backlight, Esteron chose not to use another light but instead go with a large mirrors. Using this type of reflective surface, you will be able to bounce a lot of light and save you from the need to have another light/batteries on set (but keep in mind that the sun is moving so if you have a long take you might need to change the angle of the mirror).

Using an ND when shooting outdoors is almost always a good idea when shooting video, especially if you want to shoot at a shallow depth of field.

Finally here are 3 take-ups away things from this video:

  1. Position your talent to get the most out of natural light.
  2. Use high powered lights (with lots of diffusions) as fills.
  3. Use mirrors to redirect sunlight to your advantage.

You can find more HDSLR tutorial videos here on LensVid as well as more of Vee’s tutorials and videos – here. You can also check out more light related videos on our special subsection.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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