I answer a common question I get a lot.

I get this question a lot, “Dave your lighting looks great what are you using?” I really haven’t made a video on this because I thought it was a no brain’er, but after I thought about it there is more to it that others can learn from.

First off I believe they are talking about this shot and not this one in my studio. If anyone is asking about the studio watch them here.

First off it is all natural lighting.

For the most part it is two perhaps three point lighting.

The key light is my large sliding door which faces west. Most of the time the sun is not hitting directly, it is bouncing off the hill in the open space. The color of the light changes  with amber to pure white snow, only a few weeks a year it is green.

The angle of light is very important I have found setting my tripod in the right location creates the best contrast ratio. If I look straight into the window watch what happens to the ratio, and more than that, watch what happens to the catch light pinpoints in my eyes which I think looks terrible.

Next up is my fill light. For about a year and half I used the silver side of 42 inch reflector. However lately I think gold works better. I like the catch light in my eyes, just one eye, I wish it was two.

I don’t like it being in the floor, see what it does to my shirt.

Fast moving clouds can be a pain, I always look to see how fast I need to go in the after noon in the summer.

Possible the third light is behind me not sure it adds anything.

I am amazed how the light is always different. Time of day, time of year, I can’t recreate it.

Color if the room has changed since I started this, I painted almost an 18% gray.

The CRI index is high with natural light, not sure what that means but low noise in the shadows.

Color of my desk, translucent allows light up through it. Color of the carpet. Light from the monitor too. Color of my t-shirts play a role too.

I do have led lights but when I add them I get a noisy image.

Camera settings also have a ton as well to do with lighting. Lighting auto optimizer is off, when I first started and knew little about lighting I had this on low to fill in the shadows. Now I have used thus camera for a long time I have it disabled. If had it on strong it would give less control in post.

Another huge one is picture style contrast. I don’t like going all the way to -4, for me -3 works best.

Then I add contrast in post with levels because it is fast to get the right ratio. Next I will use curves to get more control.

I use the T2i with the cheap 50mm 1.8. I focus using the EOS software.

I used to use the digital target but most of the time I am at f2.3 and ISO of 100, shutter at 1/50.

I used to white balance all the time but from experience I can tell you that with this much natural light, with nothing else mixed in, AWB rocks 99% of the time.

Rendering also plays in to this not so much over all with lighting but over all quality I do much testing here as well but I will save that for another video since that has way more parameters to test with.

Hey if like all these videos that I do, now up to 160, please consider making a donation on my site to keep me motivated or buying something from my gear page. Perhaps some day I will create a training product to.

I like to try new things, and one I have still have yet to test is putting a diffusion paper on the sliding glass door to see how that would works as a soft box.


  • Hey Dave, this is Marco from trendzeta.com, great site, really, you out a lot of work into this project and I enjoy reading your posts and watching your videos. As you can imagine I have the T2i as well, or 550D, as we Europeans like to say ;).

    You give me motivation to get more and more into video as well as photography with my T2i and will read all your future posts eagerly.

    All the best, wishing Marco from Berlin, Germany

  • Hey Dave I talked to you before about doing some graphics for some of your training videos. I think you should really get starred on doing those because you do such a great job and came a long way. Even though I have been filming with DSLRs before you and do professional work I have learned some things from your videos. Keep up the great work.

  • Great video Dave as usual, this was exactly what I was looking for a new set of interviews.

    Since you help so much all T2i owners like myself, I think it’s time for to make a donation to your site to thank you for all the great contents you have offered so many people in the world.

    I urge everybody else to do the same and express our gratitude to your hard work on this great site!

    All the best and keep the nice work

    Jesus Ocana from Madrid, Spain

  • @Dave, that’s the right thing to do, since you help us so much!

    @All: please help uncle Dave and make a donation. Maybe he could save some money for the new 5D Mark III


  • Wow Dave, that was fast, you’re the man! One quick question, you said you focus using your 50mm 1.8 using the EOS software, what did you mean by that. Please forgive my ignorance, i’m a total newb. Thanks again for your help, very insightful.

  • Thanks Dave,

    My brothers and I have been watching you videos the last few months and have really enjoyed them.

    Ok, my questions:
    How are you seeing yourself on your screen?
    Are you running Adobe On-Location or just the T2i’s EOS software?

    Thanks for you time,

  • Thanks Dave,

    That is a very nice way to have a live monitor.
    I’m going to try that out after work today.

    Keep up the good work,

  • Yes, Please, a video on optimized rendering for Vimeo. I also have been fooling around with this for months and I would love to see your take on it!

  • Hey nice site you have here. Anyway, yeah I’ll be very interested for a video on rendering too! I think your testing really paid off, can’t seem to get optimal settings for mine. Also, do you use only the neutral settings from in camera (tweaking the contrast)? I’m using the technicolor preset and maybe that’s why its not as sharp, but anyway, waiting for your rendering one and we’ll see which’s the real reason. Keep going!

  • Hey Dave

    I have been following your site for a while now and i am a big fan. I kinda am in the process of setting up my own DIY studio just like you did.Please tell me…do i have to use WHITE or YELLOW light bulbs for my lighting…or does it not matter?

    Pls Reply ASAP

  • Hi Dave,

    Great video. It’s also worth mentioning the background. I think it makes the shot.

    On the lighter side of your face are the out of focus shades which are interesting to look at and are darker than your face. On the dark side of your face is a neutral background which is slightly lighter than the shadows on your face.

    It would be interesting to see a black background in that same location for comparison.

    Thanks for the great videos.

  • As far as position lights in relation to your subject, you should consult the Inverse Square Law of lighting. It’ll give you an idea of the wattage you should use and distance at which to place your lights for the best image.

    Obviously if you’re using the sun and a 50mm 1.8, you have a great source of natural light to take advantage of. But if you’re building a studio, or lighting a set of any kind, the Inverse Square Law can come in handy.

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