Last Updated on January 13, 2019
If there is anything the outdoors is most known for, it’s the vibrancy and color they can offer in film shots. But unfortunately sometimes, while you see it all, your camera just doesn’t. This is actually one of the challenges a lot of videographers struggle with when it comes to filming outside scenes. Some turn out lucky enough to have achieved favorable results out of setting cameras on automatic but many still fail with incorrectly exposed subjects.
The Camera’s Inherent Flaw
This is a problem that not even the best videographer in town can fix. Cameras can only render limited dynamic ranges of light. They can render dark subjects or bright subjects but never both at once. This is why exposure adjustments are on cameras and why they tend to interpret everything as seemingly mushy grey. You can’t change the dynamic range through adjusting exposure settings so you will be stuck with the flaw. However, you can always manipulate surroundings and change camera settings, correctly rendering dark or light scenes.
Take Time to Save Time
Start with thinking about how you want to interpret the scene. Evaluate the background scenery, overall lighting, as well as the subject matters and how these relate to your story. Thorough preparation is essential to avoid wasting time. Take sample shots from the surroundings and find where the sky or sun exposure lands. Evaluate the clipped highlights using built-in histogram and continue trying out different exposure settings. This will help you determine the exact amount of light suitable to be added for the scene. Consider the time of the day you will be going through with the shoot as well.
Using Reflectors and Filters
Large white walls can be great reflectors. Along with sunlight and a gold or silver reflector, you will instantly have an effective 3-point lighting setup. Walls can help add more light. Handheld reflectors make nice key lighting and the sun can provide a rim light surrounding the whole scene.
However, if a director wants a different setting and no white walls can be found in the area, a great accessory that you can consider is the graduated filter. This works best when subjects are in bottom halves of frames. If you wish to bring down the sky though but still want to maintain proper exposure for the other elements in the scene, then consider using polarizing filter. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can even mix graduated filters and polarizers to get dark skies as special effects.
Shooting with Larger Sets
Shooting in small sets will usually work just fine with environmental elements and a couple of gadgets. For larger sets without power, nonetheless, scrims and reflectors will have to come into play. Planning also becomes something vital, especially when it comes to camera positioning. Keep in mind not to have sunlight positioned directly overhead. Make sure that reflectors will not be moved as well since this can be seen in the shots.
Scrims may also be essential for large sets where lighting production has to be elaborate. Reflecting sunlight off walls or large reflectors is actually only effective for shooting brief scenes. For shoots that extend up to long time periods to several days, bringing in artificial lighting will be the best recourse. Shooting for television lifestyle features or location news events will require predictable and strictly consistent light source.