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Tips & Tricks

Making the Most Out of the Light You Have: Cinematic Lighting on a Budget

By Hanssie on March 19th 2016

When I see the phrase “something, something on a budget,” it always grabs my attention. Since becoming a single mom having to live on a budget for the last few years is something I’ve gotten really good at. When you translated that into photography, it means less camera gear and more DIY, finding hacks and tricks to get the look I want and learning how to make the most of what I have.


It goes without saying that light is the crux of photography, and while I longingly ogle the Profoto B1’s in the SLR Lounge studio, I don’t have it in my budget to make such a purchase at this time. So, I’ve harnessed a lot of the tricks in Lighting 101 and the Natural Light Couples Portrait Workshop so I can use my Yongnuo 560 IV and reflector to my max advantage, and I’m always looking for ideas to up my lighting game.


The following video is from one of my favorite channels (aside from ours, of course), DSLRguide. In the 4-and-a-half minute video, Simon Cade takes us on set to the filming of their latest short film where they use natural light and ambient light to light a few different scenes. In the first scene, Simon shows us how his team uses the room’s light bulbs and fluorescent lighting with gels and white balance to get a specific look.

In the second scene, they shoot outdoors on a cloudy day. Simon’s tip on using Google Earth to get the exact location of the sun at certain times is brilliant and something I’ve never thought about doing. The video ends with a few tips about stepping back and looking at some of your other options when using light. All great advice packed in a few minutes.

See more from DSLRguide here.

If you want to learn more about using natural light or the fundamentals of lighting, be sure to check out our new SLR Lounge premium subscription, where you can access the entire SLR Lounge library. Or if you’re on a budget like me and can only pick up a few at a time, get Natural Light Couples Photography Workshop here, Lighting 101 here and Lighting 201 here. It’s worth the investment.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    Great advice! Instead of trying to fix the problem, look for other options. I hope the production assistant got a raise.

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