Lights For Home Videos

Old school film can.
Photo:  Nonqaba waka Msimang.
Lighting your YouTube or home video is still important even if you are using a state of the art cellphone or digital camera. 

There are companies that rent lighting equipment but you don’t have to take that route because you don’t have the budget Ryan Coogler had, for shooting Black Panther.  You can also find basic lights at the lights section of department stores.

However, the story comes before lighting.  Is the video about a child naming ceremony, Bar Mitzvah, wedding anniversary, music video about a pianist, rock video, your 2-year-old’s birthday party or college application video?  The story will determine where you put the lights.   For example, you shoot low for toddlers because they are running around, so lights would be on the floor.

·         Cellphones.  Your phone has a torch or searchlight.  Use two phones on either side of the subject you are shooting so that the light meets.  See the effect. Decide if you like it.  For example, you can place them on the floor, to show the actor taking off his shoes.

·         Garden lights.  What is in the basement at home?  You might find garden lights you can use for exterior shots of the video.  No tripod?  Put them on a drum.

·         Home lights with more power might do the trick for interior shots.  Explain the video scene to the person at the store.  They will advise accordingly.

·         Reflectors are cheap and easy to carry.  Professional studios that take photos of models and cars use them all the time.  Play around with the reflector and see how it changes the light on the person’s face.  Avoid pointing it directly.  It will blind the subject.

·         Twelve tea lights cost or five dollars depending where you buy them. You can put them strategically around the person or thing you are shooting.  Candle sticks also a light source but you need  candle holders.

·         Observe lights.  Some produce a yellow tinge, others a snowy colour.  Old school photographers used blue gels for night scenes.  Go outside and look at the night.  It’s either pitch black or looks blue.

Just be creative.  Lighting also means studying the sun, where it falls throughout the day, its shadows around the house and outside, how it behaves in winter and summer.

By:  Nonqaba waka Msimang


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