MobiFilm Academy
Lesson 5 - Lighting
Lesson 5 - Visual Grammar
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Good Lighting

Good lighting can make all the difference to a video. And the smaller the chip in a camera is, the more important it is to think about lighting.

Compare these two pictures:

That's the same building – photographs taken just over an hour apart.

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And here's the same chap in two different settings:

A bright, colourful picture can subconsciously suggest sunshine, holidays, fun. A desaturated shot has connotations of dreariness, grey weather, drudgery!

If you want your character to appear happy, make sure the shot says so.

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Using Available Light
Sunlight is free – but use it wisely. Here's a shot of a family on a fairground ride with the light coming from behind:

And here's the same group with the sun (mostly) behind the camera instead:

There are exceptions, of course. Some objects with soft edges (feathery leaved trees, for instance) can look very interesting with the light partly behind them. So experiment: use the viewfinder on your phone camera to find the most pleasing picture.

Sometimes a lack of light on the subject can actually make for a better shot:

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When you move indoors, things can get a little easier in some ways – and a lot more complicated in others.

For a start, watch out for excessive contrast. Your cameraphone is a clever device, but it suffers from the same limitation as every camera, film or digital - it doesn't like extreme contrast. Here's how your eyes might see someone in front of a window:

Here's how just about every digital camera would see that shot:

Not so good. And easily remedied; move the man so you see little, if any, window in the background:

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Creative Lighting
Try to get a little light on the subject's face. Here's a girl shot using existing 'top' lighting:

Here she is again, with some light on her face:

Much better – and done in less than two minutes. Here's the set-up:

So don't presume; look at your viewfinder – and make sure the shot looks as good there as it does to your eye.

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