I'm shooting the main performance and possibly some other scenes of a music video for my band (I'm not in it) and the scene is like this:

  • In a field or in a forest (some variation thereof).
  • Guitarist singing and playing acoustic (not looking at the camera).
  • Lighting needs to be warm, dramatic and background to be quite dark (easily done at night with lower sensitivity). Almost "camp-fire" like.
  • I need to be able to hand hold at least one light as I want to constantly change the angle of the light on the subject during certain takes.
  • All lights obviously need to be similar for white balance / grading purposes.
  • Will be primarily shot on Canon 60D's with 50mm F/1.8 at 23.976fps 1080p with some slo-motion takes at 59.94fps (60p).

We can spend some money on lighting but as musicians we are dirt poor (shock horror). I understand lighting fully (being a photographer) but I fear our budget is probably going to make things... interesting.

Are there any DIY or basic solutions to lighting a video such as this? The main issue is that we'll be shooting in a field with no mains nearby so we'd need a generator or other power source to power the lights. I suspect it to be a few hours of shooting.

2 Answers 2


For this kind of lighting, I would recommend going down to your local Home Depot (or equivalent hardware super store) and looking for construction lights. They are generally cheep and some run on batteries. They are also generally small and portable. You could also try some MagLights on D batteries (the ones the 5-0 use)

These lights are generally not that "warm," so I would also recommend picking up a piece of plywood and some paint. You can use this as a DYI reflector, and modify the color. More information can be found at Wikipedia

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This is what a friend of mine did for lighting. It worked, but it was not the best. You just have to play around, there are many different ways of doing dirt cheap lighting, and you have to find the best. Hell, headlights and a reflector would work.

  • I plan on going to Bunnings (said hardware super store) and seeing what they have. I have a reflector which I plan to use, potentially to provide some soft backlighting. Jul 15, 2011 at 3:11
  • The other option is to hire some professional lighting gear. Appears pricing may not be such an issue. Jul 15, 2011 at 3:16
  • I dont know where you live, but here in NY, there is 2-3 companies that you can rent lighting and camera from. And its cheap, $100-$150 for a week. You should see if you can find one in your area
    – Colum
    Jul 15, 2011 at 11:42
  • In Brisbane, we might be looking at around $50-150 a weekend for some moderate lighting gear. Jul 15, 2011 at 13:39
  • 1
    Oh, and as for the work lights from home depot, they are generally harsh and un-even so I'd consider buying some diffusion gels (actually, wax paper will probably do the trick too) and maybe even some 1/4 or 1/2 CTB gels to correct for daylight depending on the colour temperature of the bulbs. CTO if they are already very white/blueish. Also, have you considered an actual campfire?
    – SeanBlake
    Jul 15, 2011 at 17:44

For shooting in the woods, away from power, I'd recommend getting yourself some LEDs. I picked up a couple of lights similar to these on eBay for around $35each with free shipping, Chinese manufacturing; not the best quality, but at that price, practically disposable.

If you're electronically inclined, http://www.instructables.com/id/The-2-LED-Camera-Light-for-Video-and-Photos/ is a great instructable for a smaller light; you could modify it as needed.

Recently, I've been buying LEDs designed for automotive lighting applications (eBay again) and making my own light panels. I can power them from 12V batteries...two camping batteries in serial, or a 12V motorcycle or car battery. For convenience, I epoxied a standard power outlet to a car battery, wired it to the posts, and can attach a standard household cable and plug...lamp cord is fine...to the LEDs. Just don't make the mistake of plugging it in to 120V AC. Bad things will happen. :)

LED Lighting examples, but eBay is usually a better deal... http://www.amazon.com/Light-Airplane-Aircraft-Interior-Cockpit/dp/B004VMI2E4 http://www.oznium.com/led-flex-strips

I find that strategy to be incredibly effective in creating portable, easy to power lights.

Color temperature can be squirrely, so make sure you white balance and have plenty of gel with you. One trick for warm is to white balance off of something slightly blue (or through a blue gel) or add CTO to the lights AFTER you've white balanced. Either way, your shot will be a little warmer.

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