Director of Photography Jon Salmon (VGHS, RocketJump: The Show) teaches us how to use the sun to our advantage when lighting outdoors. All you need is your phone, a white sheet, some foam core, and the sun!

Special thanks to our DoP Shaun Dixon, and special audio-thanks to Alex Reeves at Point of Blue Studios!

Sun Tracking Apps:
Sun Seeker

Go outside and shoot! Post the results here!!




Hey, I was just recording a music video yesterday and ran into some problemsof this nature, it was a group of 6 beign recorded at the same time, under the sun, with me filming it handheld.

What would you guys suggest to avoid my shadow entering the frame or on the opposite side, avoid their faces to be filled with shadows and sun on their backs?

What are the options for shooting big groups under the sun? A big diffusion frame? Shooting only one at a time and focusing on angles that avoid those problems? Filming from a reasonable distance to avoid the camera’s shadow? Any other tips haha?

Loved the video guys!


If you could do a video about the basics of ISO or White Balancing I would be very grateful! Those are two things that I’m always having trouble with when filming!


Great video, as always! Loved Joey’s performance haha. I do a lot of timelapse shooting, especially in the sunrise and sunset times, so thanks for those app suggestions, will definitely look into them. I also enjoyed some of the tips to “harness” the sunlight and make it have different and interesting looks, even during the afternoon.

I loved this video and really want to see more of these types. Specifically more on using resources that are already there and making them interesting and showing different ways to use them to affect your story, in this case, the sun. Thanks guys! Keep up the great work!


So could you guys do a video on how to shoot at night? With or without much light access? Etc. Is day to night a better option than shooting at night?


If you’re trying to avoid your shadow while shooting front light from the sun, here’s a few tips:

-Shoot a few hours earlier than you did in the photo so you can cheat the angle and get a little closer than you were able to. It looks like you’re getting pretty close to sunset here, I usually only try to use the sun for backlight at this point, or pull back and shoot it on a longer lens.

-But even if you are shooting at this time of day, there’s a game you can play, especially in music videos, where you kind of dance around your own shadow. Maybe as you push in to a medium you also wrap around to a profile, or take a knee and go into a low angle. I’m usually checking with one eye to see where the shadow is and keep it just out of frame

Honestly, what I would do if this is the lighting direction you want is just turn the band like 30° in either direction to get your shadow out of the way, then encourage them to sing towards the light. You’ll have a nicer amount of contrast anyway if the sun isn’t directly behind your back.

Lastly, if you don’t mind turning everything around and using the sun as backlight (a look I kind of prefer more, but maybe you wanted the lake as your background), then I’d say have an assistant follow you with a bounce card so he/she can just fill in whatever you’re looking at. It will be safer than trying to fly a giant bounce and you can get away with tricks like that in music videos. We used it in VGHS action scenes constantly.


That’s a great idea! We’ll definitely cross that bridge soon.

I kind of want to do one that ties ISO, shutter and F-stop together, cause once you start shooting a lot the relationship between those three all kinda becomes second nature.

@CaptainSmoothie Shooting at night/dark situations will likely be the next video you see from me. A lot of people have been requesting it!


Red Rocket, I have a rad trick for you. If you’re doing a sunrise shot and you need to know EXACTLY where the sun is going to rise within your frame, bring a 6 step ladder or anything that allows you to get much higher than your camera position. Even climbing on top of your car. You rough in your frame, then climb up the ladder to see the exact spot, then when you climb back down you’ve bought yourself a minute or so before the sun reveals itself in your shot.


Fantastic tutorial, as always. With my work in news, we’re often always shooting in sunlight and usually working solo, which can make things difficult if/when you need bounce cards. For us, shooting with the sun as a backlight is essential; for one thing, this removes any ugly face shadows and harsh lighting, and two, it stops the subject squinting as they respond.

The downside to this is that you are exposing for the face, which can cause the background to begin to blow out, especially when shooting against the sky or water. For us, the solution is either to shoot against a shaded background if possible, or shoot on a very long focal length and blur out the background as much as possible, which softens up the highlights.


That is too genius! Thanks so much for that epic Pro Tip Jon! I will definitely use it when I go out to shoot that sunrise timelapse! Thanks again, really appreciate it!


Thanks for the tips Jon! Will most certainly keep an eye on that in the future… while trying to remember to scout the location before the shoot.


Great video! Could you please make some courses about color correcting and grading? It makes a huge difference in the look of a movie, but it’s hard to get it right. Thanks!


Since I really loved this particular tutorial, I wrote a whole blog post about it on me and @Chrissypainter’s website, “Youthfilmmaker.com”. If anyone, especially Jon or Lauren @JonSalmon @Lauren want to check it out, please do! http://bit.ly/1ilO4WN


I’d really like to see a video on using lighting outside both for day and night shooting. It would be interesting to know about what gear you would use, diffusion, gels, power etc. I hope to see a video on this. Great content overall so far!


The difficulty for doing it so in depth is that it varies shoot to shoot and you need to know how to apply lights, rather than what specific someone else applied to a similar situation. This comes down to know what emotion you are trying to convey, and the lighting style that best conveys that. Once you know that, then you can sit down and work out the how and what.