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Best Practical Tips to Improve Your Lighting in the Sun!

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Dec 06, 22, updated Mar 27, 24

Shooting outdoors is a challenge in most situations. We have to deal with the sun being overexposed or the background is too dark.

In this article, we'll show you how to light with the sun the easiest way. These simple and effective tips can help you block the harsh sun and make it to your advantage!

In this article
  1. Preparation
  2. Direct to the Sun
  3. Back to the Sun
  4. Artificial lighting

1) Preparation

You may need those things to film under the harsh sun:

  1. An ND filter for your lens
  2. A flag to block the sun. It can be anything like a black poster.
  3. A white poster to bounce the sunlight.
  4. Artificial light equipment.

Now let's see when and how to use them against the strong sunlight!

2) Direct to the Sun

If we want a specific background for our shot but our talent has to face the sun, here are some tips you can do to undermine the unflattering light or the blindness.

1. Pick up an ND filter on your lens

pick up an nd filter on lens

We use it outside so we can open our aperture to get nice blurry backgrounds without overexposing our footage.

2. Use a "flag" to block or shape the sunlight

black flag

Using a black piece of poster board works perfectly fine, hold it up to the sun. Also, remember to angle your "flag" to create harsh lines or fully shade your talent.

3. Adjust your camera to fit the environment

For example, you can change the exposure of your camera to match the talent's face giving a more silhouette look.

3) Back to the Sun

Have you ever been filming outside only to see your talent dark in the frame with the background blown out with light? To fix the problem, the simplest way is to use a "bounce".

By using a "bounce", we can reflect the light from the sun to our talent. Make sure to lift the bounce and move it around to get the right amount of light on your talent.

This should give us a nice look with the sun backlighting our subject and the bounce filling in the shadows and giving us soft light on our talent's face!

4) Artificial lighting

If we want to control our lighting better, we will want to use artificial lights in combination with the sun.

For example, weather changes. As you shot, the sun will move and make lighting challenging to keep consistent.

In that case, we can use the flag technique that we used before to block the harsh sunlight and then use our lights on our talent's face, this keeps our lighting more consistent than if we relied on just the natural light.

Now, take a look at the comparison with all the lighting conditions we create:

  1. Flag VS Flag & Light
flag vs flag light
  1. Backlight VS Backlight & Bounce
backlight vs backlight bounce


If you shoot or film outdoors, you must learn how to cope with the unsteady natural light. Hope this article helps you with that and kindly leave your thoughts below.

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown Mar 27, 24
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