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How to Shoot with Natural Light: 10 Tips

16 February 2021

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How to Shoot with Natural Light: 10 Tips

The practice of shooting with only natural or available light on cinematic productions can be fantastic if it suits your story and method of working on set and in pre-production. It’s important to recognize before going into production using only available light though, that it will not make things easier. It will simply shift the workload to different areas of the production. For example, it may seem freeing to not have to rent lights, set them up and move them for every shot.

However, many film makers don’t realize that shooting with available light is often more challenging than shooting with a traditional lighting set up. While you save time and money not needing to set up and rent lighting gear, you need to spend extra time planning and researching before your shoot, otherwise your film will suffer.

There are many famous films that have made use of only natural light and in some cases have been some of the best examples of cinematography in history. Tree of Life for example, was shot using only natural light, and in fact Terrence Malick is one film maker that thrives on shooting without traditional lighting set ups. With that said, film makers like him have made sure to carefully prepare and take the necessary measures to ensure they are going to get a better result than they would have if they were to use lights.

Below are my tips on how to maintain a high level of production value while working with natural light.

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Image Credit: Wistia