As both amateur and professional movie makers know quite well, creating a memorable film takes more than writing a terrific script, hiring a group of talented actors and finding a great location. It also requires paying a lot of attention to lighting and tone. For example, if you are shooting a very dark and serious scene and the actors are standing out in the bright and cheerful sunlight, it will be harder for the viewer to be convinced of the emotions and feelings of the script. Fortunately, with some forethought and equipment, it’s possible to get the perfect lighting for every scene. The following three tips will help you to do just that:

Night Scenes

Shooting scenes at night can be challenging for a variety of reasons, states Hollywood Oracle. First, you have to really focus—no pun intended—on how the audience will be able to see the action in low light.

Instead of using overhead lights to illuminate the scene, you could try several smaller light sources or reflected light to make the action easier to see. Another great way to get around this inherent lack of light is to shoot your night scenes during the day. You can use tricks and techniques like blue washes that will make the footage look like it was filmed during the evening. Video Maker explains that you can use yellow or blue filters to tilt the color spectrum to replicate the look of moonlight. In addition, you can avoid common safety hazards such as tripping or falling associated with filming in the dark.

Soft Front Light Plus Bright Back Light

Another helpful lighting technique involves the use of a softer light source that’s at the front of the scene and a brighter, focused back light. As LA Video Filmmaker notes, this technique can be used to create rather moody and dark scenes, especially when there’s a dark area in between the two sets of lights. For example, “Schindler’s List” used this technique to highlight parts of Liam Neeson’s face, which created a moodier and more dramatic look.

You also can try using a soft light both in the front and back of the scene. However, the one used in the rear of the scene should still be a hotter light. The one downside to using this technique is that the lights must be moved every time the camera is relocated, which can be pretty time consuming.

Natural Light

To avoid spending money on a lot of potentially costly lighting equipment, you can film in natural light. In order to take full advantage of the light, make sure you have the right lenses. For example, use low contrast lenses for brighter daytime shots and faster ones as the sun starts to set.

Additionally, you can use mirror boards, reflectors or other equipment to be sure the light is hitting the actors’ faces in just the right way. If you are shooting indoors and bright light is streaming through the window, you also can use window coverings to help capture the right mood. For example, light filtering shades allow natural light to come in while also reducing the amount of glare produced.