The ability to utilise the advantages of natural light can be a huge lifesaver in situations when you need to work on a shoestring budget or simply don’t have the time to build a regular lighting setup. Even though you might not have a single artificial source of light in your kit, you can still use the good old and well-trusted rules for building a 3-point lighting setup, but this time using only the available light and still get some decent results. In the following episode of Production in Under 5 Minutes, Abba Shapiro will run us through the steps to 3-point lighting a subject using window light, a bounce card, and believe it or not, a shower curtain.
One of the ugliest looks you should avoid no matter what when shooting with natural light is to have your talents faces blown out with harsh sunlight. Apparently, the window light could be an excellent key light, but in most cases it would give you just that – too harsh and strong light. The solution that Abba Shapiro suggests for this type of situations is using a dirt cheap shower curtain or any other suitable material that can turn into an extremely efficient diffuser for your key light.
Furthermore, if you want to separate the subject in the foreground from the background, you can either utilise another source of natural light or bounce some light of your primary source to achieve the same effect. If you don’t have lights, your only option are reflectors and flags.
These can be some inexpensive foam core boards that you can buy at your local art supply store as they are a must when it comes to utilising natural light for your production. You can also use some black boards to block some of the light. Either way, you won’t be able to pull off your scene properly without those accessories, especially when shooting without having any dimmable artificial lights at your disposal.
The last step of the process is to use another white foam core to bounce some of the key light to the other part of the face of your talent. This way you can very easily and quickly get a three-point lighting setup for your production. You can apply these tricks in almost any situation, no matter whether you are shooting an indoor or outdoor scene.
Keep in mind, though, that in this case you will not have full control over the light you’re using, so the careful planning and blocking of your shots is a paramount aspect of the overall process. The rest of the job relies entirely on your productivity, professional skill set and superb talent to make even the most challenging scene a work of outstanding artistry.