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Light It Up!

By Shawn C. Steiner


Video is nothing without lighting. Luckily, it doesn’t take much to outfit yourself for vlogging. I would start off with a simple collapsible reflector (and a stand to hold it). This will help you control natural light whether you are shooting outdoors or inside by a window. It will help balance out dark shadows and can even be used to block some nuisance light.


When you start needing your own lights there is an almost endless combination of options. The two most popular would be going with a couple efficient LEDs or a single ring light. Having a few LED panels on hand tends to be the most versatile, as they can quickly and easily be repositioned to fit different locations and shot types. Ringlights on the other hand are very effective for vlogging since they create a beautiful even light when you are standing right in front of the camera. They also create a ring shaped catchlight in your eye, which many beauty vloggers love.


If 90% of what you plan to do is simply sit in your room or studio and record yourself talking, a ring light may be all you ever need. If you need a real set of lights I would suggest going with a couple LEDs. Usually available quite cheap and they generally have lower power draws than traditional fixtures. A couple lights along with a reflector can provide a great base for three- point lighting on a budget.


Let’s discuss three-point lighting. This uses three types of lights: a key, a fill light, and a back light. Simply put, the key is your main light, the fill serves to balance out the shadows created by the key, and the back light will help separate you from the background. In a vlogging setup I would use one softer light with an umbrella as a key, use a reflector for fill, and then a harder light on the top of my head to give clear separation between myself and the background.


Here’s a couple affordable kits and one ring light, just add the collapsible reflector mentioned earlier.

Impact LED Softbox Two-Light Kit
– Westcott Basics LED Two-Light Umbrella Kit
Angler Circo LED Ring Light