Ambient light refers to the natural light already present in a scene before you set up any lighting equipment.

Sometimes referred to as available light, ambient light is generally soft and diffuse and can come from the sun or moon, streetlights, windows, or other sources.

Both amateur and professional filmmakers should be aware of ambient light when shooting on location, especially when shooting outdoors.

If a scene calls for a dark mood, for example, it may not be possible to shoot in the early morning or late afternoon hours when natural lighting is soft and diffused.

That’s because ambient light is what your eyes see – the only time you don’t have to worry about ambient light is when you’re in a pitch-black room (or one so bright you can’t see anything).

So if you want to shoot good video, you need to know how to control ambient light.

ambient light

What Is ambient light?

Ambient light is the total amount of light that already exists in a scene before any artificial lighting is added.

Ambient light can be used to create mood and atmosphere, but often it’s just not enough to get the desired look. To solve this, we need to add additional lights.

In this video, we’re looking at what ambient light is in filmmaking and how it can be used to create mood and atmosphere

A classic example of this is when a character turns on the lights in a room. The lights come on, but there are still shadows because the lights being used (like lamps) only produce a limited amount of light, and therefore don’t fill all of the shadows created by ambient light.



Tungsten lights, for example, also emit some of their heat as infrared radiation, which can cause warm-up and glare when used in large groups (especially with small lampshades).

This heat may create a cozy atmosphere in a living room, but it can be distracting or uncomfortable when used in an office environment.

Ambient lighting can be useful in some situations, but it should not be the primary illumination source.

Ambient light is different from task lighting, illuminating only a specific area or activity.

Task lighting is often created via desk lamps with smaller shades or frosted covers that direct the light only towards the desired area.

What Is Ambient Light?

To understand ambient light and how to control it, you need to know what it’s made of. Ambient light comes from two primary sources:

  • Natural Light (e.g., Sunlight and light from the moon).
  • Artificial light (e.g., lights in rooms).

Natural light is excellent for taking pictures. It provides consistent, even illumination and doesn’t cost any money! It also doesn’t require any equipment other than your camera and tripod (if you use one).

The only downside with natural light is that it’s not always available when you need it. The best time of day for natural lighting is usually in the morning or around midday, depending on where exactly you live.

If the sun isn’t out when you want to take pictures, you’ll have to wait or use artificial lighting.

What Is An Example Of Ambient Light?

Shooting at night can be fun, but the results can be a little more hit and miss for those who aren’t used to it. A quick and easy way to improve your photography at night is to utilize ambient light.

What exactly is ambient light? Ambient light is the natural indirect light that bounces off objects in your environment and creates a soft illumination effect.

The best way to use ambient light is to find something in your already lit-up environment and shoot with that as your background. It’ll give your photos a nice, warm glow that you can’t get with flash alone.

Finding something to shoot at night is one thing, but the real trick is finding enough ambient light to make it worth shooting in the first place. The most ideal situation is to find an object or location that’s already lit up, making it easier and brighter for you to shoot with flash.

If you don’t have anything like that around you, look for street lamps or other man-made lights. The best time of day to do this is either dusk or dawn when there’s still some orange tint in the sky (or if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where there’s a lot of naturally occurring fog). That soft orange glow will reflect off.

What Is Ambient Light in a Room?

Ambient light is any type of light that fills a room. It is the opposite of direct light, which is the light that comes from one particular direction. The intensity of ambient lighting depends on how many windows are in a room and how large they are.

Indirect lighting from fixtures may also add to ambient lighting. Ambient lighting in a room can be measured with an illuminance meter. Some people may use the term “ambient light” to refer to all the light in a room, including direct and indirect sources.

Others use it to refer to the source of indirect lighting.

Ambient Light in a Room

Ambient light helps us see our surroundings better because it helps us fill out shadows and make out details within our field of vision. There are many different ways to manipulate ambient light in a room.

The easiest way is to adjust the blinds or curtains on your windows to control how much natural light enters. Another way to make adjustments is with lamps, though this method can be more costly than adjusting blinds or curtains in some cases.


What Is Ambient Light Good For?

Ambient light is all the light that isn’t direct. It’s a combination of all the lights in a room, and what you do with it makes the difference between good photos and bad ones.

You need to know how to use ambient light and use it well. You can’t control it, but you can know how to work with it so that your photos look great. Here are some tips for working with ambient light.

Ambient Light Is Everywhere

Ambient light comes from all around your subject, so you will always have it when you are looking for it. You are surrounded by it wherever you go, so use it! Learning how to use ambient light will improve your photographs immensely.

Different Colors Of Light Have Different Effects On Photos

Ambient light comes in many different colors, and each color has a different effect on your photos. For example, red tones add warmth, while blue tones tend to cool things down. Understanding which colors make which effects will help you know how to use ambient light in any situation.

Using Your Flash Is Not The Only Way To Use Your Camera’s Built-In Flash

The built-in flash on your camera is not the only way for you to take advantage.

Choosing Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the type of lighting distributed evenly throughout a room. It creates an overall glow that makes it easier to see and read. Because this type of light is non-intrusive, it encourages people to relax and stay in a room longer.


Light fixtures can provide ambient lighting with dimmer switches or by lamps. Dimmer switches offer greater control over the ambient light because you can adjust them to create just the right amount of light in your room.

While there are several types of ambient lights, two of the most popular include:

Floor Lamps

These lamps are smaller than standard table lamps, and they usually stand on the floor instead of sitting on a table or desk.

They provide light directly to one area instead of lighting up an entire room. Floor lamps are perfect for areas where you’ll be working on your laptop, reading a book, or painting. They’re also great for creating a soft candlelight ambiance in the living room or bedroom.

Table Lamps

These lamps sit on tabletops or desks and provide light over an entire room. The bright yellow glow from a lampshade creates a cozy feeling when set next to a fireplace or put in any other room for nighttime use. Table lamps are great.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is a perfect way to make a room feel warm and cozy. The right lighting can provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic evening or set the mood for a relaxing family game night. With a few simple tips, you can create an ambient atmosphere in any room with ease.

The first thing to consider when adding ambiance to a room is your light source. While many people use table lamps, floor lamps, and ceiling fixtures, ambient lighting doesn’t have to come from something as obvious as a lamp.

Incorporating candles into your decor is one of the easiest ways to add ambient lighting to any room. Candles are readily available in most stores and come in an assortment of shapes and sizes, which makes them easy to incorporate into your home decor.

A pair of candleholders on each side table adds just enough light to the dining room table without being overbearing or creating too much glare during starched linen dinners.

If you’re planning on entertaining guests in the living room, place several candles around the room for an overall glow instead of using a table lamp or overhead light fixture.

Ambient lighting also can be added through natural sources such as sunlight and moonlight. Open up your curtains and shades during the day so that sunlight can brighten your home.

Task Lighting

There are three basic types of lamps that provide task lighting:

Desk Lamps: These are designed to sit on top of a desk or table, and they usually have two or three light bulbs. They can be used for general-purpose lighting, but they’re most effective when they’re pointed directly at a specific work area, such as a desk, table, or paperwork.

Tall Lamps: Tall lamps are perfect for lighting up an entire room and don’t get in the way of people moving around the room. They give off a softer, more diffused light that’s similar to window light but much more controllable.

Plus, you can position them anywhere you’d like in the room because they’re freestanding and typically don’t need to be plugged into an outlet.

Floor Lamps: These lamps are placed on the floor and can be used as general-purpose lighting or targeted toward specific areas, depending on where there’s an outlet nearby. When choosing a floor lamp for task lighting, look for one with a flexible neck so you can point the light exactly where you need it most.

When you’re working on a small project (like a craft project) or doing detail work (like knitting), it’s always helpful to have extra light in the room. This is called task lighting.

Task lighting comes in two basic varieties: overhead and table lamps. Overhead lighting, like a ceiling fixture or chandelier, evens out the light from different sources and provides indirect light that helps brighten up the whole room.

Table lamps are placed directly next to the surface you’re working on and provide direct light that can help you see better.

One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to create task lighting is picking a lamp that is too bright.

Overly-bright lights can be difficult to work with and cause eyestrain as your eyes try to adjust between looking at your work and looking at the light itself. Instead, choose a more subdued light that makes it easy for you to see what you’re doing without causing strain or discomfort.


Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is a lighting pattern that focuses on one or two elements of a room to highlight them. The main reason to use accent lighting is to draw the attention of a viewer to the focal point of the room. Accent lights can be used in any room, either alone or in combination with other forms of lighting.

Accent lighting is commonly used in bedrooms, bathrooms, and dining rooms. Bathrooms often use accent lighting to highlight the sink and mirror as well as decorative items such as candles or wall sconces.

In bedrooms, accent lights are often used above the bed and around windows or artwork on the wall. Dining rooms typically use accent lights to light candles or floral arrangements on the table.

The most common type of accent light is a pendant light hung over a table or countertop. However, many homeowners choose recessed lights as an alternative because they are more energy-efficient than standard pendant lamps. Recessed lights can be placed almost anywhere, including above cabinets and island counters.

A popular place for recessed lights is above kitchen islands because it provides adequate task lighting for cooking and eating while enhancing the room’s overall ambiance.

Ambient Light Indoor Scenes

The Ambient Light Indoor Scenes set photographs are shot in an interior space to show how the ambiance of a room can be enhanced with lighting. The photographs in this set show a variety of ambient light conditions inside a room, with different levels of brightness and color temperature.

The photographs in this set can illustrate how to implement different lighting solutions, such as window tinting, interior painting, window blinds, and so on.

The images have been shot to show various ambiance situations that can occur inside a room, such as:

Daytime – Nighttime – Morning – Evening – Dusk/Dawn – Weather conditions (clear or cloudy)

The images in this set were shot in a studio using a DSLR camera. The camera settings were fixed for all the photos, and the only thing that was changed for each photoshoot was the ambient light conditions.

Ambient Light in interior scenes can be a challenge to capture. Whether the ambient light is coming from large windows, or smaller skylights and lamps, one thing is sure; it will change over time.


TIP: Have your model(s) face the main source of light so that you do not have to deal with the issue of lens flare. Lens flare can be a huge distraction and difficult to remove in post-production.

Bad Ambient Light With Natural Light

This is a widespread mistake that amateurs make. The reason for it is simple: the camera’s metering system measures the light in the frame and tries to make that 18% gray, or whatever value the meter thinks will produce the best quality image.

Description: When you have an uneven distribution of light in your scene, such as when you’re outdoors, and there are shadows cast by buildings, telephone poles, or trees, you’ll get this same problem. The camera will try to average things out and underexpose your subject.

This is easy to fix with a bit of compensation on your part. Open up your aperture by one or two stops (for example, from f/8 to f/5.6), making your shutter speed faster (letting in more light). Or change your ISO setting (for example, from 100 to 200). 

If you’re shooting in aperture priority mode and want to keep the same shutter speed, change the aperture so that it’s one-stop different from what the camera would select automatically (for example, lowering it from f/8 to f/5.6). And if you’re shooting in shutter priority mode and want to keep the same exposure time, then change the ISO setting.

Choosing The Lighting Location In Filmmaking

Deciding where to place your lights is one of the most important decisions you make as a filmmaker. While all filmmakers want to control every aspect of their shots, in reality, there are many factors beyond your control, including the location itself.

Creating a specific mood with your lighting can prove difficult when shooting on location. We all know that the sun is our biggest obstacle in filmmaking, so one of the first things we must do is figure out how to deal with it.

When choosing an outdoor location, you must consider how much time you have and what time of day it will be. A sunny day may sound great, but in reality, this can make everything very hot and uncomfortable for your actors and crew members.

The best time to shoot during the day is early morning or late evening when the sun isn’t directly overhead.

This will keep you cooler and prevent your camera from overheating. You could even try shooting at night if you have enough time, although this can be difficult because most people aren’t used to working in darkness.

If you’re planning on shooting during sunrise or sunset, try to find an area with some shade because direct sunlight can be too bright for your camera’s sensor.

Choosing The Lighting Types In Filmmaking

If you’re new to filmmaking, it’s very easy to get confused when choosing the lighting. There are so many different types of lighting that it can become overwhelming. And even if you’re a seasoned filmmaker, making the right choice can be difficult. It all depends on what you want to achieve with your film and what equipment you have available.

Lighting is one of the essential elements in filming. It can either make or break your film because if the lighting is bad, the whole production will suffer. Here are some of the most common types of lighting used in filmmaking:

Natural Lighting – When natural lighting is used, there are two main categories: exterior and interior.


Exterior natural lighting is used when shooting outdoors, while interior natural lighting refers to using windows to light up a room or using skylights when filming a scene indoors.

Spot Lighting – This type of lighting is achieved by using a single light source and positioning it directly above, below, or beside the object being filmed. In general, spotlights are bright enough to film objects larger than a few inches in diameter (like cars).

For example, when you see someone’s face being illuminated by a spotlight, that’s an effect achieved through spotlights.

Choosing The Right Look In Filmmaking

Let’s begin with the basics of choosing a look. If you’re like most indie filmmakers, you probably haven’t really thought of it before. You just pick up your camera and shoot. But choosing a look has a lot to do with how the film will look and feel.

The tone is how the film feels and what mood it creates for the audience. It’s created by matching the mood of the story with the mood of the music or score and by matching colors, filters, lighting, and other aspects of cinematography with those in editing (for example, if there’s a lot of green in your film, try using more green in the post).

Whether light or dark, friendly or menacing, your film’s tone will help determine how an audience receives your film.

Style is what makes your movie stand out from all the other movies out there. Style has to do with lighting choices, editing techniques, music, sound effects, and many other things that together create a unique look for your movie.

Film noir is a type of visual style that relies heavily on shadows and complex contrasts between dark and light areas. It often uses deep reds, browns, and blacks (in terms of color) and low-key or even complete darkness

Choosing The Lighting Intensity In Filmmaking

Choosing the lighting intensity in filmmaking is an essential aspect of filmmaking. Lighting is often referred to as the soul of photography.

In fact, the term “lighting” itself is used to describe not just the process of how an image is produced but also to describe the image itself. In other words: The image you produce with your camera’s sensor and how that image look is determined by what kind of lighting you use in your film.

There are many different types of lights available to filmmakers, each one with its advantages and disadvantages. When choosing the right light for your film, it’s essential to consider factors like power consumption, color temperature, and heat emission. Let’s take a look at a few different options:

Film Lighting:

The most important feature when it comes to film lighting is versatility. You’ll want lights that can be used with any camera or shooting situation.

Fluorescent lights come in various sizes and shapes and can be used for everything from interviews to large sets. They’re relatively inexpensive compared to other types of film lighting, but they’re also limited in color temperature control and overall quality.

Fluorescent Lights:

Fluorescent lights are great for providing ambient light.

Ambient Light In Filmmaking

Ambient light is the light that comes from the environment. In filmmaking, this can be the actual scene’s lighting. It can be the reflection of a lamp or window off someone’s glasses.

It can also be light reflected at the camera by a shiny object in the scene like a watch or a shiny necklace worn by an actress.

Trying to control all of these reflections and sources of ambient light in filming is very time-consuming and expensive. The director of photography has to consider where each possible reflection might occur in the scene and try to eliminate it by moving lights into place or changing angles so that it might not show up on film.

This can be very complicated in scenes with multiple actors and many things happening simultaneously. Filmmakers use all sorts of tricks to block light from showing up on film when they don’t want it or to make sure it does show up when they do want it.

The next time you’re watching a movie, note how many times you see lights reflected off shiny objects onto parts of faces that are supposed to be in shadow or off shiny objects onto parts of faces that should stay dark. There’s no way to avoid this entirely without eliminating those objects from the scene.