Without enough light your video will look like mud, it's as simple as that. So it's really important to have enough light when you're shooting. But you don't want too much light, either. You can't control every shooting situation, but you can make the best of whatever light is available with our tips below.
If you're shooting inside, it probably won't hurt to turn on all the lights in the room. If you can, arrange the light sources so that they point to your subject and are beside the camera. You don't have to rearrange furniture (especially if it's not your house), but you may want to move your subject to accommodate the available light.
One common mistake is to have a subject face the camera with his back to the light source. When the light behind him enters the lens, your camera tries to compensate for the disparity in light between the subject and the light source. But it can't, so you often end up with a silhouette instead of a recognizable person (Figure 4.7).
Figure 4.7. In the image on the left, the light is directly behind the subject. Position the light source in front and to the side of the subject for better results.
A light directly over a subject can also create problems, such as harsh shadows on the person's head or face (Figure 4.8). To remedy this, move the subject a few feet to the side, out of the direct path of the light. That way your subject can catch any light that's being reflected from the floor, ceiling, or wall. You can also position a subject near a window to use daylight as a lighting source. Position yourself and the camera near the window, facing your subject. Don't let the subject stand between the camera and the window, or you'll end up with another silhouette.
Figure 4.8. Overhead light creates extreme shadows. Move the subject, or the light, for higher quality images.
Several of the principles that apply to shooting inside, also apply to shooting outside. For example, never position your subject's back toward the sun. Once again, your camera will try to compensate for that big ball of fire shining directly at it and turn your subject into a silhouette. On the other hand, you have to be careful when facing people toward the sun. You don't want them to have to squint to keep from being blinded.
Another common mistake is to shoot with your subject partly in the shade and partly in the sun. Your camera will try to compensate and end up making the shady part too dark or the sunlit part too bright. Often, what works best is to find a nice shady place out of the direct sunlight (Figure 4.9).
Figure 4.9. The image on the left shows the harshness of direct sunlight. Indirect light can create a much smoother, more attractive image.