Outdoor Cinematography Tips

Shooting outdoors is quite different from shooting indoors and comes with it’s own unique set of challenges. Our summer high school intern, Samantha, wanted to make a video that helps give less experienced filmmakers some tips. This Outdoor Cinematography Tips video highlights different gear and techniques you can use to get exactly the look you’re going for.

When shooting outside, you’re generally dealing with one main source of light, the sun. The sun is way brighter than any other light you could rig up, so it is important to control that light.

The most common filters you would use outside are polarizer filters and ND filters. The polarizer will you help you cut down glare and reflection. It’s also good for darkening the sky and making it more blue. If you’re loosing the sky in the highlights, the polarizer will help darken it and bring everything in your scene closer to the correct exposure.

Once you have you camera set up and you have your filters the way you want them, you can start to use your other gear. This should include bounce cards, nets, and diffusion (silks). This will help you control and get the quality of light that you want. If your subject is way too bright compared to the rest of the scene, you could position a net between the sun and your subject. This will cut down on the amount of light that is hitting them.

If the sunlight is hitting your subject too harshly, you could put up a silk. This will change the quality of light and make it a lot softer.

If your talent or subject is too dark, you can use a bounce card to bounce some of the sunlight back onto them. There are different kinds of bounce cards. A standard white card is going to give you a softer more subtle bounce, where as the metallic silver card will be stronger and more harsh. There are also gold bounce cards which will throw a soft, warm light on to your subject.

To summarize, make sure your outdoor shooting kit includes a polarizer, ND filters, nets, silks, and bounce cards. Use the polarizer and ND to control exposure and highlights. Then use your bounce cards, nets, and silk to control the light hitting your subject.