Lighting Tips for Vlogging: How to Light
One of the best things you can do for your video quality is to ensure you have great lighting. Viewers find poor lighting distracting and it's hard for them to see how great your content is if they are busy thinking about why your video is so dark. By creating a great lighting set up you can ensure that the people watching your videos are only thinking about how much they're enjoying them.
Going outside and using natural light is the cheapest way to get a lot of light for your videos. If your vlog is not suited to the great outdoors then you need to get more strategic. You can turn on all the lights in your living room and still end up with a dark, grainy, video.
Lighting Tips for Vlogging
The lighting technique used by portrait photographers, called 'Three Point Lighting', is also a great method for lighting your vlog.
Part 1. Three Point Lighting Tutorial
You will want to have a main light source behind the camera and off to one side. This is called your 'Key Light', and it needs to be high quality. A window will work, but if you do not have access to one where you are filming then consider an LED panel light or a softbox light like the ones used in portrait photography.
This first light will create a dramatic shadow across half of your face. You want to reduce this shadow, but not get rid of it completely.
Rather than setting up another light source on the opposite side of the camera, put up a reflector to bounce some light back onto your face. This reflector is called your 'Fill Light'.
The reflector will need to be mounted on a stand.
The final step to creating three point lighting is to set up another light behind you. This is your 'Backlight', and it will help you stand out from your background.
Part 2. Lighting Tips
Focus Your Key Light: Try to focus your Key Light so that it lights only you and not your background. Do this by mounting anything that can cast a shadow onto your Key Light to control the area where the light hits. If you are using a window for your Key Light then you can use a curtain. If you use a softbox light then your light will already be somewhat focused.
Reflectors: Sets of reflectors are often under $50, so they are fairly affordable. However, some vloggers choose to forgo purchasing reflectors and make their own out of tinfoil.
If your strong main light is too hard on your eyes then you can use a translucent 'reflector' to soften it. Set your translucent reflector, or other screen, up in front of your main light to diffuse it.
If you are hosting a beauty vlog then you might consider a slightly different set up. Instead of having your main light off to one side set it up directly in front of you so your entire face is lit evenly. It is still a good idea to use fill lights in this set up to give you some dimension, and a backlight is even more essential for helping you stand out from the background. The even light hitting your face will also make you look flat if you do not use a backlight.
If you are using all of the lighting options available to you and your video still looks too dark then you can try brightening it by opening up the aperture of your camera lens/setting a lower f-stop. Letting more light into your camera can help your footage look brighter, although you also run the risk of making things look overexposed/ washed out if you are not careful.
If you are stuck shooting in low light conditions it is best to use a lens with a wider aperture/lower f-stop. This will make the best of the light you do have.
For examples of lighting equipment read the post 'Vlogger Tips – Lighting Equipment'.
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