March 29, 2017

Watch: Learn How to Pull Off These 4 Natural Lighting Effects

Need to recreate the look of moonlight, firelight, or something crazy like lighting? This tutorial will help you.

Cardinal rule of lighting: You can never know too many lighting effects. The tricky thing about that though is finding resources out there that teach you how to pull them off. Lucky for you Aputure is back with yet another video in which cinematographer Julia Swain breaks down how to create four different natural lighting effects, including moonlight, firelight, lighting, and water reflections. Check it out below:

Video is no longer available:

The great thing about Swain's approach to these effects is that they're relatively simple to pull off, and they utilize LEDs, which are cool, require little power, and can usually be found at low prices. You'll need one or two lights, some gels, and some modifiers (namely a reflector) to be able to recreate these lighting tricks.

  • Firelight: If you want to shoot a scene in which your subjects are lit by firelight, Swain used two LS 1/2 lights, one with a red gel and one with a CTO gel. If it's too bright, you can use diffusion. Not only will you want to put those babies on a dimmer, but you'll also want to move some cookies, hands, or in Swain's case, someone's feet and legs around in front of it to give illusion of movement.
  • Lightning: Swain set two LS 1 lights behind windows with diffusion and one 120D dome inside near the subjects to add a nice rim light. All were hooked up to the same channel so their frequency could be changed in unison.
  • Moonlight: One piece of advice from Swain for those who want to recreate moonlight: go as soft and as white as you can. This produces a nice, natural look to your lighting effect. For the tutorial she used an LS 1 with a 1/4 CTB gel.
  • Water reflection: The main piece of gear you'll need for this effect is a silver reflector, but you may also need to bounce some light off of it to make it intense enough to see. Swain used a daylight balanced Mini-20.

So there you go, four new lighting effects to add to your repertoire. If you want four more, you can check out this post in which we covered another Aputure/Swain lighting demo.     

Your Comment


A great video.
Good creativity.

March 30, 2017 at 1:01AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

When is that Mini 20 coming out?

March 30, 2017 at 7:34AM


I will never be able to say enough good hints about Aputure products. I own eh LS1c and it is by far the best LED I have ever used.

March 30, 2017 at 11:47PM

Daniel Waghorne
Cinematographer/Drone Pilot

For water, put some aluminum foil over your reflector. Water relections include intensity variations that affect small areas.

April 3, 2017 at 4:01PM

Martin Hirsch
Computer Operator

Good one .keeping doing More like this. Thank you.

April 4, 2017 at 9:01PM, Edited April 4, 9:01PM


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September 3, 2017 at 11:00PM