Balancing Artificial & Natural Light

Let’s talk about balancing artificial and natural light on location. ⛅️

I thought this image would be a good one to share as a follow up to my previous post. Two totally different environments with different requirements - but they share a very similar quality of light and set up.

When your composition has exterior windows you have a few options to balance exposure so they don’t blow out completely. Option 1) put neutral density gels or nets over the windows. Option 2) Baja blast™️ some light into your scene and put neutral density filters in front of the lens. (Window sheers from art department are also helpful!) Both options have their pros and cons, namely the time and resources to set up and adding reflective material to your windows if you decide to use ND. In this instance we opted for the light blaster method since we had an M40 on the truck and 6 people working in G&E.

Some people will say keying with that much power for this image is overkill. But you wouldn’t be able to have the source far enough away to clear the frame outside and maintain the soft quality of bounced light. If you think this is ridiculous and unnecessary let me know how you would have lit the scene in the comments! 😉

Here’s my hot take for budget conscious filmmakers: we could have had roughly the same exposure bouncing four Aputure 600Ds running on two 20 amp circuits instead of an M40 with a 6,500 watt generator. There’s a time and place for big HMIs. Shining a bare source through a window is a good example. You can only stack your lights if they’re being bounced or pushed through diffusion - otherwise you’ll have multiple shadows and that’s a bad idea 💀

The rest of this setup was straight forward. LiteMat 2L Plus as a back edge and a Source Four spotted way in and dimmed for just a little texture on the back wall. Aputure B7C as a practical in the desk lamp.

DP @teneyckvisuals

Tyler Kaschke is a freelance gaffer with a grip truck based in Lafayette, Colorado serving Boulder, Denver, Golden, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and the Rocky Mountain region at large.