For most people, Vlogging sounds like a millennial portmanteau. However, for those who understand what it’s all about, like the Sacconejolys, vlogging is a bonafide career that pays really well. Their vlogs gross more than 600 million views and they have 1.8 million subscribers.
That said, if you are looking to throw yourself into the vlogging arena and be successful at it, an important aspect to consider is lighting.
Irrespective of the content you are putting out there, the set-up has to look good and welcoming. That means getting your lighting right. With excellent lighting, your camera or iPhone can produce better quality videos than a high-end mirrorless or DSLRs camera.
Interestingly, it’s not difficult at all to get your lighting right. To point you in the right direction, here are a few techniques on how to get good lighting for vlogs.
Three-Point lighting is a standard method used to light up a vlogging set-up regardless of your preferred medium. In this case, the light source you are using doesn’t matter as long as you can replicate a three-point lighting arrangement. The results are always reliable.
Three-Point lighting set up has four important elements. There’s the subject, who is the point of focus, a backlight, key light and fill light. The key light is usually the brightest and biggest of the three. The fill light is a little less bright and you should place it opposite the key light to help clear off shadows.
The backlight, also known as a rim light or hair light, is set up behind the subject and opposite the key light. A backlight has a nice halo effect behind your head and on the shoulders and creates a very distinct separation between you and the background.
The easiest way to light up your vlog is by using free and natural light from the sun. Here’s how to go about it. With one of your windows as a Key light source, place your camera closer to the largest window and you will notice an instant effect.
Your window creates a soft and beautiful light that will wrap around your face, which brightens your set-up. The effect is greater if you are vlogging in a room whose window has frosted glass.
If you want more light, try using a reflector or bounce card. These act like fill lights. Bounce cards are made from white Bristol board like those you find at a local dollar shop. Like a bounce card, a reflector is also a piece of common photography equipment that you can find on Amazon at a very fair price.
The reflector goes to the opposite side of the window. The reflector’s white surface will bounce all the incoming natural light brightening any shadows that might be on that section of your frame.
Once you get lighting right, your viewers will always enjoy high-quality videos. On the flip side, setting up your equipment closer to the window means your recording will pick up noise from the surrounding.
Ever since YouTube became a thing, the internet has become awash with a variety of DIY set-up lighting tutorials targeting vloggers. The methods we have listed here require a variety of light bulbs that you can buy from online stores.
LED lights are the best since they provide a lot of light at a fraction of the wattage and they don’t heat up due to prolonged use.
A clamp light is pocket-friendly and has a somewhat thin dome with a socket at the middle. It also features a clamp that lets you fix it anywhere in your immediate surrounding. Clamping it onto your chair makes for a cool light stand. You could also try clamping it onto a table or desk.
If you prefer DIY lighting, get little clamps, like those used with chip bags or binders, and perhaps some parchment paper.
Once you fix a light bulb into your clamp light, place parchment paper over the dome and ensure it covers the bulb. If you do the same for your three-point light sources, you are guaranteed a soft source.
If you frequently watch vlog lighting tutorials on YouTube, you may have noticed DIY china ball and the IKEA floor lamps. The simpler of these two is the floor lamp, which goes for less than 20 bucks on eBay and Amazon.
These two types of lamps resembles tall cylinders wrapped in a material that looks almost like parchment paper. They provide a soft light, and the set-up usually comes with a stand to give it support.
If you want a brighter light, find brighter bulbs and place them within the lamp then station each lamp around the subject following the three-point arrangement.
The DIY China ball light looks exactly the way its name suggests. This one requires a little more investment. You need to buy paper lanterns and an extension socket. For softer light, you need a bigger lantern.
You can easily find socket cords and 20 lanterns for less than 50 bucks. Fix your socket cord into place, find a nice place to hang the lanterns and you are all set.
Ensure that you don’t buy bulbs whose wattage exceeds the recommended power rating of your socket. In addition, be sure to go for bulbs with a similar temperature color rating.
Temperature rating is quite a dense topic worth its own article, but let’s make things a little simple and assume you are filming using Auto white balance. In that case, you should buy bulbs in threes or even more. Only then will you be sure that all the bulbs have the same temperature rating.
If DIY is not your thing, then you can consider investing in a lighting kit. Actually, you can easily find a two-piece lighting umbrella kit for as little as 50 bucks from the Cowboy Studio. The vlogging community is split right in the middle when it comes to using this kind of equipment, but it won’t hurt to try it.
With a 500-watt bulb, you get a nice, soft light enough to form a fabulous three-point lighting arrangement.
The other lighting technique used widely in the Vlogging community is the ring light. Makeup and beauty vloggers love it because it casts a soft light across your entire face. This equipment is ring-shaped, which allows you to place your camera right in the middle and record your video through the space at the center.
The ring shape is also known to create a nice looking ring-shaped reflection in the vlogger’s eyes, which helps them stand out.
In the past, if you wanted a ring light, you would have to spend a lot of money to get one. The alternative was getting wood from Home Depot, and building one using sockets.
Size and Placement
It’s likely you have heard of the fact that having a large light source casts a softer light on your set-up. You can also achieve the same effect by placing your source a little closer to your set up. These two approaches stem from basic principles in physics.
The goal of every vlogger is to generate the softest light because that is what works best. Lighting helps vloggers achieve lighting that is as soft as a naturally overcast sky. This can be achieved with the help of a LED panel.
Although these panels come in different sizes, a small panel works wonders, especially if you place it a little closer to the vlogger. In fact, some people use tiny panels that they place on the cage or at the shoes of a camera.
Such cameras produce a significant amount of light that is softer and even better when the panel is placed close to the subject. Although this may seem like a nice thing, some vloggers find it a little too flat. Therefore, if you are worried about the quality of your video, it is best to place panels farther from the camera.
Television studios use square shaped panels 24 inches in length to light up their set. If you are working under a tight budget, you can easily make high-quality videos with just a couple of panels mounted on a frame.
The panels will brighten up your set and illuminate your vlog. However, here’s a catch. If you prefer to place your panels a little farther from the camera, ensure you have some powerful panels. Does this remind you of the inverse square law? Simply put, the inverse square law says that if you double your distance, you should increase the power of your illumination by a factor of 4.
Whether you are already a vlogger or are looking to start Vlogging for fun or as a career, it pays to get your lighting right. As easy as it sounds, it requires you to put in some work. It doesn’t matter what camera you are using, proper lighting helps to create quality videos with a high overall value. Hopefully, that the tips we have listed here will help you get your lighting right.