Virtues of Using Window Light For Video

For a quick and beautiful lighting set up it’s hard to beat using a window as the main light source. You don’t want to use a window that may have sunlight. Instead look for a northern facing window which will insure a soft lighting that’s easy to work with. Using window light for video is not new. Professional photographers often prefer this natural northern light for portraits. But this kind of lighting was discovered long ago.

Window light for video
“The Art of Painting” by Vermeer

Vermeer, the master Dutch Painter, (1632 – 1675) was famous for his use of the soft light from a window. The north window was best as it never had sunlight which could introduce harsh light with deep shadows. Jan Vermeer’s paintings have been called frozen films or cinematic dramas in paint and canvas. Girl with a Pearl EarringUsing Window Light For Video is a film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. It is also one of Vermeer’s most famous and beautiful paintings. The film does a superb job of interpreting Vermeer’s art and use of soft lighting.

How to Use Window Light

Keep your back toward the window and keep the subject facing directly into the window or at a 45 degree angle so the light will softly illuminate the side facing the window. If necessary, a white card or reflectors can be used to fill in the shadow side. This produces a dramatic look which is fast and simple to do.

A reflector like this 5 in 1 Light Reflector is very portable and can be used indoors and out. It can also be used to keep the sun off a subject or to bounce fill light on a person’s face.

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One thought on “Virtues of Using Window Light For Video

  1. Joe Forte

    Great post on using window light. I was always a little confused on how to use window light but this article really drove the point home. I never really thought too much about the direction of the window but by using the northern window, it makes sense that there wouldn’t be any shadows. I’m definitely going to have to try that on our next video production. Thanks again for all the tips Hal!


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