Lighting can make or break video/photo quality. Make it too oversaturated, and the video quality becomes more pixelated and bright. Make it too dark, and you can’t see a thing. The instant solution is to use a ring light on the orange or white-light setting. Yet, whilst ring lights are becoming more popular and easier to find. You can’t always afford one.
So how do you optimise lighting if on a budget? Well, today, I’ll give you my tips and tricks for great lighting on the cheap.
If you can’t afford a ring light, then natural lighting is the next best thing to use. Natural lighting is great as it won’t be so bright. It’ll oversaturate the camera and make the visuals look weird. Plus, it is bright enough to replace a ring light if you can’t afford it. Try moving your recording/ photography area somewhere where the natural sunlight shines the most.
Changing the angle
Not only is the saturation of light important, but the angle is vital as well. It can exaggerate certain features and highlight others, and if it’s in the wrong area can be distracting on camera or film. With a ring light, you use a tripod to change the angle the light is pointing to or a clicker to adjust the brightness.
However, you might not have nor want to buy a ring light. So how do you control the light and the angle? You use cardboard to stop lighting from going into place and angles you don’t want. The cardboard works at reflecting the light and is a quick and accessible way to control your light source where it will hit and the angle of reflection.
I recommend flattening out a big cardboard box and then cutting it into a square (or three) as it will be easier to move around and control than a big box that is still taped together.
Don’t be afraid of lightbulbs.
Usually, on a set, you won’t just have a ring light. You might also have a halogen or LED lighting set. However, for this post were working with a minimal budget, so what else can you use besides natural light? You use the light from your lightbulbs.
Now, if you are a student studying film, you’ve read that line and cringed. (Trust me, I did, and I had to type it!) Yes, I know you advised against using natural light and the light from your bulbs, but we’re working with what’s available. All you’ll need to do to control how bright it shines is add a lampshade or do the cardboard box trick to change the angle of refraction, which should make it easier.
For certain scenes and photographs, you might only need a spotlight type of lighting. Admittedly it is rare. But it can happen. If so, try using the flashlight of your phone to create the spotlight effect. Don’t get me wrong, the lighting won’t be as effective or as powerful as other options out there, but they’ll do in a pinch.
Now when working with changing the colour of light from the typical colour to neon red to create a tense atmosphere. Coloured gels are placed in front of a light to achieve that colour change. However, coloured gels can be expensive and work best with LED lights which you might not have. A suitable replacement for coloured gels would be to put coloured cellophane in front of the light instead to change the colour of your lighting set. I will point out that unless you put it on top of a bulb that lights the entire room, only certain lighting sections will change colour!
Putting the coloured cellophane in a plastic bottle and using a flashlight inside or just at the entrance of the bottle would also work well if you feel like putting the cellophane in front of the bulb would be dangerous.
This tip works better for photography than for film/video. (Unless you plan on directing and lighting a Christmas movie anytime soon.) Use fairy lights that are in the back of your cupboard as a light source. They are bright and can illuminate an entire shot. They are effective when you use them from the subject’s back, so the glare of the lights affects the camera quality. This is known as backlighting, and it helps create soft light in your shots.
Plus, the fairy lights can always double as a set piece. This means you don’t have to think of creative ways to hide your light source on set! Not having to hide your light source can save you time and energy. Plus, fairy lights can change colour and intensity, which you can play with, and is one of the most adaptable light sources on this list.
There are many ways to get adequate lighting on a budget! You just have to get creative.
Thanks for reading this article:
Hopefully, you found this article helpful and as always our wer8 family is always available to help you on your content journey. If you haven't already, please also download any one of our FREE ebooks to help you with your online presence.
Share, Leave a comment, and tell us what you think, we always love to hear from you...
Sign up to our newsletter for regular articles like these!