This is article #29 in the DSLR Video Weekly series.  If you’d like the whole thing in one shot, check out the book Creating DSLR Video: From Snapshots to Great Shots.

Once you get the hang of video, be sure to monetize it by becoming a contributor to Adobe Stock.

When choosing where to shoot your video, you’ll want to give some thought to where you put your subjects.  Try to find a place that is slightly out of direct sunlight, for example, under an overhang or under the shade of a tree or tall building. This will potentially diffuse the light.   Don’t put your subjects in the shadows; instead, look for a place that is out of harsh light.  Shooting under an overhang can provide an exposure approximately four stops less than direct sunlight.  This will keep your subjects comfortable and make them look better.

The first location is overexposed due to too much light.  The lens flare has washed out the image as well.  The middle image is a better location, but I’ve exposed for the sky, causing the subjects to fall into shadow.  The final image is closer to a correct exposure for the subject and can be finessed during editing.

Tracking the Light

If the sun keeps moving, how do you track it for your shots?  Well, unfortunately, you can’t just memorize a bunch of times or general angles.  Your geographic location, as well as the time of year, will impact how close the earth is to the sun (and hence change times like sunrise and sunset).  But these times and angles can be calculated (and in fact already have been).

I highly recommend that you add a SunPath style calculator to your smart phone or iPod/iPad. With this software you‘ll always know where the sun is in relation to your scene, which will help you choose the best shots.

My favorite app is called Sun Seeker: 3D Augmented Reality Viewer by ozPDA.  This application uses the GPS on my phone to pinpoint my location and determine sun data based on my position. Alternatively, I can enter any location and date to virtually “scout” a location in advance to plan for the likely lighting conditions.

Knowing where the sun would be coming from allowed me to position myself so the sun was mostly behind me.  This greatly reduced lens flares. Photo by Meghan Ryan-Harrington


The app also offers visual ways to tell where the sun will be throughout a shooting day.  A compass view shows solar position, angle, and elevation for both day and night. My favorite feature is the augmented reality view, which takes a live video feed from the phone’s camera and overlays detailed information about the sun.  It’s great to be able to tell where and when the sun will rise or set, or for that matter pass behind a large building.  The augmented reality view makes it much easier to frame shots.

Join us each Saturday for the next installment of this weekly series.

Once you get the hang of video, be sure to monetize it by becoming a contributor to Adobe Stock.