Lighting Outdoors with Modifiers

Exterior daylight setup

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Make your outdoor interviews look great

Shooting interviews outdoors can be tricky. You often times don?t know what light you?ll be working with for exterior shoots until right before. Therefore, it?s a good ideal to have the tools needed for all types of lighting conditions.
If you don?t have the budget for large HMI or LED lights you might have to control and/or shape the sun to make your subjects look great on camera. When you?re talking to someone outside on a bright sunny day, you probably don?t notice that they have huge shadows beneath their eyes. But if you were to see this on screen you definitely would notice.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content”][vc_column width=”1/1″ css=”.vc_custom_1430771385847{margin-bottom: -50px !important;}”][vc_column_text]TAR Productions uses Suntracker for interviews outdoors[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″][vc_column_text]The sun is usually going to be the biggest and strongest light source available. This also means the sun can provide some harsh lighting conditions. Sometimes you?re forced to shoot outside, sometimes it makes the most sense for your story.

For example, when we were in Haiti with Helping Haitian Angels, we shot all interviews outside since the land, Kay Anj Village, was a huge part of the organization that it just wouldn?t have felt right to shoot inside.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″ css=”.vc_custom_1430770749730{margin-top: -85px !important;margin-bottom: -85px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

The sun is usually going to be the biggest and strongest light source available.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″][vc_column_text]The problem was that the land was very flat and dry without a ton of vegetation. This made it a challenge to find great interview spots. Fortunately, we brought with us a portable lighting kit from Matthews ?that would allow us to shape and bounce light as needed.

Debbie, the main character in our Haiti documentary, was a really important to our story and we knew she was going to be responsible for a majority of the story. It?s our style to use a lot of B-Roll over interviews, but the moments that we do see her we want the image to be easy to look at and understand.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” css=”.vc_custom_1430771221144{margin-top: -50px !important;margin-bottom: -50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Setting up an exterior daylight interview[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Debbie interview results, see how we light this[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″][vc_column_text]In the image above we have Debbie taken from a screengrab of one of the camera angles. Next to it, we see the setup. We placed her in the shade to light her face evenly. This provided a soft and natural light on her face. The light was very high as this interview took place midday, that back background was unfortunately flat.

To fix this we took a Westcott 5-in-1 reflector on a Manfrotto Nano Stand and bounced it to rim light the back of her head. The kick from the reflector was small, but noticeable. It was able to separate our subject from the background and put her at the foreground of where the eye naturally focuses.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1430770792581{margin-top: -115px !important;margin-bottom: -115px !important;}”][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″][vc_column_text]

Haiti was 90? & 95% humid, so having our interviewees in shade was imperative.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1430770838281{margin-top: -110px !important;}”][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″][vc_column_text]In Haiti, we had 5 main character to interview. And because the land was very flat and open, it didn?t provide many locations to interview at. Haiti was 90? and about 95% humidity, so having our interviewees in the shade was imperative. Had they been in the sun, they would have started sweating immediately. This would make them less comfortable and the sweat reflecting in the sun would make it less desirable to watch.

We shot all the interviews in one day in Haiti. As the day went on and the sun got higher, our shade disappeared. When we interviewed Ben, we barely had enough shade for him to sit in and be comfortable.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” css=”.vc_custom_1430771228053{margin-top: -50px !important;margin-bottom: -50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Daylight exterior interview setup[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Final lighting for exterior lighting[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″ css=”.vc_custom_1430771419214{margin-top: -50px !important;}”][vc_column_text]The dry grass and openness provided a golden reflection on Ben?s pale face. With him sitting next to a giant wall of cactus this made his face very contrasty. To lessen the contrast and even out the warm color from the golden grass we flipped our 5-in-1 reflector to golden side. This provided the smooth contrast we were looking for while keeping the colors similar.

To our surprise, Ben gave a fantastic interview that really had an impact on our story. We ended up using a lot more of what Ben had to say than we anticipated, and we were glad we went the extra mile to light his interview properly.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content”][vc_column width=”1/1″ css=”.vc_custom_1430771406884{margin-top: -50px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Exterior Interview lighting overcast day[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″][vc_column_text]

Lighting on Overcast days

Overcast days will naturally provide a soft light that evenly lights your subject?s face. Often times this provides the look you?re going for without much effort. However, sometimes you?ll want to add contrast.

Similar to the example with Ben in Haiti, adding contrast to your image can happen one of two ways: you can add light via a light source or reflector, or you can remove light via a flag or net.

For a series of testimonials for Premier Fitness Camp we shot over several weeks we were tasked with quick setups and dealing with all the elements of shooting outdoors. One morning was very overcast and we positioned our talent, Phil, away from the sun.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” css=”.vc_custom_1430771240832{margin-top: -50px !important;margin-bottom: -50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Lighting w/out flag[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Lighting with flags
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″][vc_column_text]Why did we position him with his back to the sun? The sun acted as a backlight providing separation from the background and our subject. Since these were testimonials by actual customers, not actors, it took a few more takes to get the message across. As the morning went on the sun started to burn through the morning marine layer.

The fog burning off provided both a challenge and opportunity. The sun was now providing a stronger backlight and toplight, making our subject look great. However, we wanted to increase the contrast slightly to help separate him from the bleak background.

By adding a 24×36 flag to the left side of his face we effectively removed light, keeping the contrast and overall providing the look we were going for. NoFilmSchool has more details on negative fill. The images above?show you a behind the scenes look at our simple setup, and what it image looks like without and with the flag.

 

Shaping?Morning and Evening Light

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” css=”.vc_custom_1430771247684{margin-top: -50px !important;margin-bottom: -50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Outdoor lighting with silk modifier[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Exterior silk modifier lighting example[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″][vc_column_text]What about when shooting outside when there aren?t any clouds? When the sun is high the lighting can be harsh. Another one of our go-to tools for exterior lighting are white muslins and silks.

The images below show a large 6×6 matthews frame with a silk fabric. A silk is one of my favorite fabrics to soften light. It provides a soft and natural looking diffusion.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” css=”.vc_custom_1430771437226{margin-top: -100px !important;margin-bottom: -50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Example Sunset Interview Lighting[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Soft evening interview lighting outdoors[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1430771445820{margin-top: -50px !important;margin-bottom: -200px !important;}”][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_col-sm-offset-1″ css=”.vc_custom_1430771355596{margin-bottom: -150px !important;}”][vc_column_text]For Levi?s interview, we shot it near the end of the day, when the sun was getting low. This typically provides for better, more appealing light than midday, but since his back was towards the sun, bouncing light on his face would have made him squint his eyes too much, making the interview look unnatural.

We added a 4×4 opal behind him, softening the light and reducing the amount of light by 1-stop. We then added a California Bounce to his face which made our subject and the background more even.

Do you have some exterior lighting tips? Share with us below in the comments and let us know if you?d like a video tutorial.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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