Film photography can be a little complicated. Using a flashlight is even more difficult, but possible. Learn how to do this in the article.
When trying to shoot a film, there’s always a temptation to try to do your own thing uniquely. And one way to achieve this is by shooting with the use of a flashlight. Yes, shooting with a flashlight would give you different results that when compared with normal gear but it’s worth the try. Shooting your film with a flash can be a whole lot different because there’s no much feedback. However, by taking a look at a few tips, the task then becomes less difficult.
Getting this right is going to be great for you. In fact, you’re going to get much better results than when you try to edit the picture after filming. Take note that when you shoot the film as separate shots, it’s good to make the lighting as consistent as possible. Visible differences in lighting and coloring may cause the movie to appear as if it has been shot in different locations.
Camera and Lights
Regardless of the type of camera which you’ll be using, you must get enough light into your shot. The right also has to appear in the right place and not provide too much contrast. Low-model cameras may need some special settings to accommodate this type of light but bigger cameras such as the DSLRs have better capacity at handling low light such as that from a flashlight. It would be better for you to set the camera to manual exposure rather than relying on automatic exposure.
Small or hard lights (such as bare bulbs, flashlight or direct sun, cast harsh shadows. It would be necessary to soften them with the use of a diffuser. This would help you eliminate any shadows. There could either be another light or reflector. Big soft lights such as that from a cloudy white sky or light which is reflected from a white wall are usually the best choice. They offer even lighting but don’t have much atmosphere. This means that the whole image will be covered evenly with the same amount of light without leaving any part darker than the other. They are usually the easiest types of lights to use and are great for shooting scenes with a lot of details or group shots. Medium-sized lights such as those from a window or a Chinese paper lantern is small but large enough to be atmospheric.
When shooting, avoid applying your light from directly in front of the character. By doing this, the image, shoot or film may appear flat and without any features. It could also dazzle the character when you have a flashlight pointing directly in their face. However, it may be a great choice for you if you’re making a camera that can’t handle much contrast. The normal place to set up your flashlight would be as a three-quarter light. This would mean that you place the light at a 45-degree angle in front of the subject. This type of setup helps to add depth to the image you’re filming.
Shooting with a flashlight from the side can add a lot of atmosphere to your image but it’s a tricky setup to use. If you’re shooting against a dark background, it may end up creating a moody low-key effect. You would most likely have to adjust the exposure of the camera to keep the skin tone from appearing too bright. With a flashlight, avoid positioning the light from below unless you’re doing a horror shoot. It would make the character appear scary. Also, you should usually avoid shooting into the light unless you’re aiming for a silhouette effect. The rim light technique can be a great way to make the character stand out from the background.
Avoid big contrasts
When making use of a flashlight in filming, it’s better to have shots that are too flat rather than those with too much controversy. Phone cameras and contrast cameras may not give you the desired effects which you may want. They usually fail at handling scenes with low or high contrast.
If it’s possible to adjust the contrast of your camera, do your best to reduce it. Also, try to reduce color saturation. It’s possible to boost them during editing but it’s much harder to reduce them. Certain cameras even give you the option of filming in a special flat or ‘log’ modes and they are useful for dealing with contrast. Yes, the footage may appear dull at first but all of this can be corrected during editing.
This is the traditional way to shoot movie scenes. It involves the use of the main light, fill light and rim light. You can make use of a flashlight as the main light, the fill light will eliminate any shadows and a rim light will make the object stand out from the background. The main light is usually at the front of the object or character but to one side. Keeping it to the face will help to add more depth to the image and make its features more visible. Adjust how far you put the light to maintain a high-quality image. If the flashlight is too far, it may end up blurring the facial features.
To deal with any shadows, you need to add a fill light. This would be in the opposite direction to the key light and shouldn’t be as bright as the main light. It’s possible to add a reflector in place of fill light. Next, add a rim light for the backlight. This is usually behind the subject, but out of shot, to make the edges of the subject stand out from the background.
Extra lights that could be included to boost the effect of the flashlight would include a small catchlight. It would add some reflection into the character’s eyes.
Don’t forget that you’re making use of a flashlight and it’s your job to make sure that this isn’t obvious to the viewer of the film. That’s what makes all the extra lighting and setups important.