You would be right in thinking ‘what possible tips could there be for indie exterior [daytime] lighting? We have the sun, the strongest light available to us.’
Well, the sun can often be too intense, and if you’re shooting outside on a sunny day when the sun is the highest (around midday), you’re going to have a very brightly lit image with harsh shadows which are not aesthetically pleasing. Also, not to mention, your actors will be squinting a lot.
The Quick Tips
With the following tips, you will be able to hold some control over the glowing sphere of hot gas in the sky.
- You can buy 5-in-1 reflectors from online outlets such as Amazon.com and with a lot of these reflectors, you can remove the reflective material and use the middle section as diffusion. On a sunny day, use the diffusion section to decrease the intensity of the sun. Likewise, you could also cut out the sun completely with the black side of the reflector.
- Try to position a reflector or white foam core/board just under your talent at an angle that bounces the light into the shadows of your actor’s face. It won’t entirely remove the shadows, but it will clear them a little and help make the shot more aesthetically pleasing.
- Change locations. If you can’t get the look you want in direct sunlight, try moving to an area under the cover of shade.
- Use a reflector or a bounce card to create a backlight.
- If the contrast ratio is still too high, you need a stronger fill light. Try placing the sun behind your subject and use the bounce card as a soft key light from the front.
- You will have the harshest shadows when the sun is highest in the sky, try to avoid filming around this time. Golden Hour (covered here) is one of the best times of the day to film because of the soft light.