Top Tips on Shooting With or Without Natural Light

Top Tips on Shooting With or Without Natural Light

Whether you’re shooting with or without natural lighting, you need to understand how you can use the sun and the lack therefore to your shooting advantage. Using these top tips on shooting with or without natural light we’re helping you learn how films shot with natural light and those without can be highly effective.

Sun light is a primary resource for exterior shots but what do you do if you film on a low light day? Shooting with the sun offers several great advantages that can quickly be lost if the sunlight lacks. We’re showing you how to shoot both with, and without the natural light, so that you can adjust to any accommodations as you work your way through the field.

Avoiding the Sun

So let’s start by thinking about shooting a film without natural light. You have lots of sun, but you want to avoid it–so what do you do? If you’re stressed about the way the sun will affect your shots, consider this trick to reduce the sunlight:

  • Shoot on a day when the clouds cover the entire sky. If you find that there are only a few clouds, use the clouds to your advantage and view them as moving balls that will change the lighting exposure of your shot. As the clouds move, let the beautiful changes in light work to your advantage.
  • Likewise, if the sun is just setting on the horizon, create the sense of an evenly lit landscape by shooting in any direction where light is consistent.
  • Another option is to cancel out negative side effects of shooting in direct sunlight by avoiding locations where shadows are present or seeking those areas. You want shadows or no shadows-not a mix of the two.
  • Consider shooting at midday to enjoy the sun being directly overhead which will limit any potential shadowing.

Use the Sun to Your Advantage

Just as you can shoot in ways that will block out the sun or reduce the impact that the natural light has on your shot, you can also use the sun to your advantage. When you’re shooting with the sun, consider it a primary light source and seek secondary lighting sources just as you would on set. Put the sun behind your camera so that it casts directly on your subject. Now direct your subjects to be aware of the sunlight and show them how to find their light. This will ensure that your talent remains well lit and negative shadows are not cast during the production.

You may also use the sun to offset lights or bounce light from different angles. This will allow you to evenly light your subject. Watch for elements such as shadows that may be created by your camera to ensure you get the best footage under the natural light.

Tips for Shooting Against the Sun

If you’re looking to film against the sun, consider the following tips to get the most out of shooting with the natural light at your disposal:

  • Avoid auto settings that could filter out the natural light.
  • Shoot against the sun to create a backlight effect with cinematic flare.
  • Pay close attention to the risk of the sun light becoming too bright which, in older cameras, may result in a black dot forming.
  • Frame the sunlight in the side corner of your composition to allow your subject to remain in focus of your shot.
  • Use extra lighting and bounce boards to produce the proper lighting around your subject.


Try these top tips on shooting with or without natural light the next time you’re faced with filming a production in the middle of the day.

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