How to Choose Lights for Professional Outdoor Photography

When shooting outdoors, you need to make sure you have the proper photography lights with you. Shooting outside is much different than shooting indoors because you have far less control of the lighting. However, with the right lights and other tools, you can still be the master of your exposures.

Shooting Daytime Exteriors

When shooting outside during the daytime, most small lights are rendered useless because the sun is so strong. You need large and powerful lights to make a difference. You need to make sure that these large lights are also color balanced for daylight, or else the lighting will look unnatural and orange.

There are other ways to control the light that don't require electricity. Mirrors and reflectors are an easy way to make the sun's rays work for you. If you have a small crew with you, build large frames and cover them with diffusion clothes. Place the frames between the sun and the subject to make the light softer. You can rent these from any lighting rental house. Just make sure you keep the frames secure, because in the wind, they act like sails.

Also, try to schedule your shoot around the weather. Days with overcast produce natural soft light, which is the most flattering. Sunny days require more lighting work because of the natural harsh shadows produced. Partly cloudy days are the hardest to shoot on because you're exposure is at the mercy of clouds passing across the sun.

Shooting Nighttime Exteriors

Shooting outside at night more closely resembles shooting indoors then it does with daytime exteriors. You have to create darkness in the light and really anything goes depending on your shot. Small lights can be used for closer shots and large lights for wider ones. A common practice for nighttime exteriors in rural areas is to have a large light up in the sky to act as the moon. Urban areas afford more creativity because the light sources could come from anywhere. 

Color temperature is very important with nighttime shots. The moon and streetlights all have different colors that need to be replicated in order for the lighting to appear natural. 

So when choosing a lighting package for outdoors the general rule is to use the big guns. Most outdoor shots are wide and you need large, wide beams. Also pack some small fixtures for tight night shots, gels for color correction, and diffusion frames for daytime exteriors.

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