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Looking to improve your homemade video content?
It doesn’t take long for most to get the hang of vlogging and take it to the next level.
In fact, a lot of people are taking up vlogging either just for the fun of it, as a part of a marketing strategy for their blog, or with the hope of becoming a full-time YouTuber.
The only problem is that most of beginner vlogs are subpar compared to those of YouTube stars and seasoned vloggers.
If you want people to notice your content, you must have a good setup, a great script, and most of all, amazing lighting. Here are some tips on how to perfect your lighting in vlogs.
1. Take Advantage of Natural Light You Have
The first thing to do is to consider every light source you have at your disposal.
Start with the natural light, you have available from the windows. If you position yourself close to a window, you can use the available light shining through it.
Position yourself so the light from the window lights up your face or one side of your face. Just remember, don’t sit with the back to your window, because then your face will be in shadow.
If you take a position, so that one side of your face is lit up from the window, you can use a cheap reflector screen to bounce the light back to the other side of your face. We’ll get back to reflectors in a minute.
2. Invest in More Lights
If you want to step up your game, there are a lot of dedicated and inexpensive video lights available on the market.
Another good option is to use a ring light. Ring lights find themselves as the most popular lighting fixture by vloggers and influencers.
These cast an even light that leaves no shadowed part on your face. They’re also great because of how portable they are.
They also come in different sizes to provide good lighting regardless of your recording device.
We have a great article with some recommended affordable ring lights here.
Direct light isn’t always the best for your vlogs. You may notice while editing the video content that the light creates undesirable shadows in your background. Direct light can also underexpose parts of your face, creating more shadowed parts on your face.
Bouncing the light off of a reflector can help diffuse the light. Doing this ensures that the lighting during your recording will be more even.
It’s also a good idea to get a stand along with your reflectors when buying for the first time. These help you redirect the light with more accuracy during your recording sessions.
4. Soften Any Harsh Light
If you don’t have time to fiddle with reflectors, dampening the harsh light works as well as diffusing them.
Since you want to be the focus of your vlogs, having shadows will add an element of distraction.
For dampening the light, a lamp dimmer can help. Most video lights have the option you to dim the light to your liking, which will help so you don’t overexpose the footage.
If you’re using natural light from a window or you’re filming outside, clouds are your best friend.
Clouds act as a huge natural softbox that softens the textures of your skin.
That’s why you often see photographers and videographers using big boxes with white fabric in front of light fixtures to soften the look of the talent.
If you buy a professional video light, you’ll often get a softbox included, but you might want to buy an extra diffuser if you find that the light is still too strong.
You can also use paper lantern shells to diffuse any light that’s too harsh.
Also, have a look at our article on DIY light diffusers.
5. Jury Rig DIY Lighting to Suit Your Needs
If you’re low on budget and can’t afford any proper video lights and reflector, you can always create DIY fixtures.
Take any portable light source you can find and test it out in your setup. You can always manipulate the light later on to suit your needs. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
For example, if you’ve got a cheap work light, you can also use this. Work lights are incredibly powerful and get hot. But if you direct it against a white wall or the ceiling, you can use the bounced light to light your face in a pleasant way.
A white foam board, tin foil, or a white wall can help provide the effect of reflectors in a pinch.
6. Tinker with Your Camera’s Settings
Even with great lighting, you may still look off in your shots. This can come down to your camera settings.
If you’re not confident around your camera yet, it’s fine to leave everything on auto. But as soon as you can, you should start diving into the manual settings, because sometimes the auto settings on your camera will interpret the scene wrong.
And if the white balance is wrong, your skintones can end up looking weird. And if the light suddenly changes, your camera will try to compensate and your footage will look messy.
If you want to learn about the best camera settings for video, have a look at this article.
You’ll get the best results if you take the time to dial in your camera’s settings to make it perfect for your next video.
Also, make sure to set the right autofocus setting.
7. Choose the Right Bulbs (Color Temperature)
If you think the lighting still looks off on you in your vlog, it can be because of your bulbs. Different bulbs cast different types of light. Some cast a warmer light and some cast a colder light.
Most professional LED-video lights today have the option to dial in the exact color temperature you want. But if you’re using household lamps, you should consider the bulps you’re using.
Incandescent bulbs are a good example of bulbs that cast a warmer light. This will help you get a cozy effect in your vlogs, making your viewers more comfortable.
Compact fluorescent bulbs use less electricity and are more efficient. They also emit a colder light than incandescent bulbs. This is great for canceling any shadows that may appear in the background.
Keep in mind though, that using household LED-bulbs can cause your video footage to flicker – especially if you’re shooting at higher frame rates. That’s why professional video lights are flicker free.
8. Use the 3-Point Lighting Technique
Creating the ideal light environment is essential for a well-lit vlog. You can do this by using the 3-point lighting technique. This lighting technique covers the basic lights for vlogging.
The technique covers for your backlight, fill light, and your key light. This ensures there are no shadows on your face while you do your vlog.
9. Invest in Your Background
The background of your vlog has more to do with the lighting of your video than you think. The color of your background will aid or take away lighting from your video. Knowing which color to use is important in producing a good vlog.
A white background will bounce the light back to you. A black background will absorb the light. Choose the appropriate color for the background during your vlog. Usually, a dimly lit background is the way to go.
Also consider what objects you choose to put in the background of your video. A messy background will take away the focus away from your message.
You can opt for a green screen, e.g. if you want to put video footage behind you. But keep in mind that a green screen needs good even lighting to work best. Another option is to use a photography backdrop with a texture of your choosing.
10. Do Dry Runs Before Every Vlog
After adjusting everything in your setup, do a test video before doing your actual vlog.
Doing this helps you see if there are areas that need more lighting in your video.
This is the secret to getting the perfect lighting in all your videos.
Improve Your Video Content with Proper Lighting Today
Good lighting will make or break a good vlog. It’s one of the things that sets apart a professional YouTube-channel from an amateur one.
But with the tips in this article, you too should be able to always produce well-lit video content for your vlogs!
About the author:
Jan Sørup is a videographer and photographer from Denmark. He’s the owner of filmdaft.com and of the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.