How to Harness the Power of the Tactical Nuke of Lighting Tools, the Sun

If pieces of lighting were weapons what would they be? Well, if a spotlight would be a sniper rifle and a china ball a grenade, then the sun would be a tactical nuke. 

Harnessing the awesome power of the sun can be a little tricky, because, well, it's a ball of hot plasma with a mass 330K times that of Earth. So sure, you're going to need a little bit of finesse -- and patience -- and reverence, because the sun's just out there doing its thing; you're the one trying to control its mighty brilliance to light your little project, earthling.

But this tutorial from RocketJump Film School might aid you on your mission:

Okay, let's brief:

Objective #1: Track the sun's movements

The sun is a wily foe, so being one step ahead of it can let you plan your attack and get into position before it's upon you. Luckily, you can do a little recon to find out where it will be when you start shooting.

Ideal Weapon:  Sun-tracking apps

Objective #2: "Know thine enemy"

Is it a coincidence that the name of the Chinese general who said this is Sun Tzu? Yes, but he's right. Knowing who or what you're dealing with will help you come up with the right tactics to effectively deal with them. The sun is a different adversary depending on where it is in the sky, the weather, and your location. 

Ideal Weapon: Educate yourself on the Sun's effects during sunset, high noon, and magic hour

Objective #3: Prepare for your counterattack

Since you'll never be able to control the sun, you'll have to use its power against it. This means finding a way to reflect its light back onto your subject exactly where you need it. Noon, for example, is one of the most difficult times of day to shoot outdoors, because the sun is giving off harsh light directly above your subject resulting in hard shadows, "raccoon eyes", and a bunch of other issues.

Ideal Weapon: Bounce cards, white sheets, etc.


Shooting outside is a difficult undertaking, but that shouldn't scare you away from the fight. Come prepared: know where the sun's going to be, understand the lighting effects it'll have at different times, and bring a bounce.     

You Might Also Like

Your Comment


my #1 source of lighting ever!!!!!!! =) probably the rest of the world also.

September 3, 2015 at 4:17PM

Keith Kim

And for those who want to learn more about reflecting and its benefits watch those:

One of its inventors:

The modern System (including grip and more textures):

You're welcome, greeting from germany.

If you have questions concerning the kflect system feel free to ask.

September 3, 2015 at 4:46PM

Robert Bogs
Bildgestalter (DoP)

Such a pleasure watching this video on the "Sunny" side of filmmaking, great job and thanks. Hope you got him a new donut :)

September 4, 2015 at 12:08AM

Arun Meegada
Moviemaker in the Making

20 minutes of magic hour, pfff... I live in Iceland. June-July, we get upwards of 4-5 hours as the sunset and sunrise bleed into one another - though that is then the very middle of the night. In December almost all the sun you get (around 4 hours) is also very low in the sky...

September 4, 2015 at 3:06AM, Edited September 4, 3:06AM