Creating a dramatic sequence or shot in your film or video often requires a few elements. You need to get the composition right, the shot, the sound, the script or setting. But one thing effectively (and easily) makes for a dramatic shot – lighting.

How you light a scene can add to the mood you are trying to communicate. It can intensify drama or suggest subtle tension. But how do you tell your story using dramatic lighting for your shot, especially if you don’t have the support of a large video production company behind you?

Here are some simple tips you can follow.

Shooting At Home

There’s something to be had when photographers and videographers tell you to follow the light. If you have a great lighting setup, creating a dramatic shot at home might not be a problem, you can simply set up your lights and direct it however you need. But if you’re a DIY-er and an at-home videographer and you want dramatic shots (and have no extra room in your budget for gear) you need to get creative.

First thing, find the light in your home. Use these to light up your scene or your subject and enhance the drama you are after. Look for the light in the following:

  • Window

Choosing to shoot near a window gives you a good amount of natural light. You don’t need to have the actual window frame in your shot but you can place your subject close to the window to get the best amount of light on them. Using a window can also help in getting deep, dramatic shadows which can enhance the look of your scene.

  • Appliance and Gadgets

We’ve talked about practicals before. If you have a good, strong source of light, you can create a dramatic shot by dimming or closing out light from all other sources. A computer screen, a phone screen, a candle, a lamp – anything that offers light can be used to dramatic effect.

  • Any Spot Where Dark and Light Meet

The bathroom, the stairs, anywhere you think a good amount of lighting will contrast with good solid blacks would make for a fantastic and dramatic shot. Of courses, most would be cleaned up during post-processing. But, as much as possible, you want to get into the practice of getting everything to as close as your vision while in RAW and not rely so much on editing or post-process to fix things.

Shooting with Artificial Lights

Using artificial lights doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton. Remember practicals? These are lights you already have inside your home or the setting you’ve chosen. You can use these to create a dramatic effect on your shot. The only requirement is you need to be able to control the light.

When you control the light, you can then shape it according to your needs. Let’s say you have a lamp in your room, and this is the main lighting source you want to use. Place your subject close to the source of light. Then start tweaking. You want to make sure your light isn’t overexposed so your other elements don’t get blown out. If your lamp has a dimmer, then dim the light a bit. You can then “add” more light in the form of LED panels or any other hidden source to create the illusion you’re getting more light from the source than you really are.

To create depth, you want to add shadows into your shot as well. Any good scene shot in a small room will need this because it will help separate your subject from the background. To do this, you can use a shadow kit or generate the shadows in various creative ways.

There are also other ways to create lighting for dramatic scenes or sequences. For instance, you can use gels to do it or other methods.

Remember, the important thing is to be creative and to think outside the box. Dramatic lighting doesn’t necessarily mean having expensive gear with you. Test out these tips and see if you can create amazing and dramatic scenes with it.