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Lighting a Nashville Bar with 2 LED Lights


Lighting a Nashville Bar with 2 LED Lights

Today I want to talk about my thought process for lighting a bar in Nashville, TN for Zach Dubois' new music video "Pray for Rain.”

This location had both its advantages and disadvantages. Without a prior location scout, I was walking in blind with only a half hour to figure out the lighting and shots I needed - only a little stressful. :)


  • Great location with that classic ‘downtown Nashville’ feel.
  • Great practicals throughout the location for that ‘evening bar’ look.
  • Empty bar. We were allowed to shoot between lunch and dinner.


  • Very little time. Only 2 hours to set up and shoot everything.
  • Five large windows with only one that could be closed.
  • A lot of daylight spilling into the bar.

This was a pretty small budget music video, so for this location we used the bare minimum.


  • Lights
    • Two Bi-Color LED Panels
    • Negative Fill
    • One C-Stand
    • Some diffusion for the LEDs
  • Camera
    • C100 Mark I
  • Lenses
    • Tameron 24-70mm
    • Canon 70-200mm
    • Rokinon 50mm


With only one window closed, I had to think quickly on how I was going to achieve the ‘night at the bar’ look with only two LEDs.


I decided to blast the light and use my ND Filters to knock down the daylight spill and give it a warmer look.


    • One LED about 45 degrees stage left - four feet from the subject. Set at 4300K with a layer of diffusion.
    • I set the light at 4300K to warm up the subject a little. 5600K was too cool for the look I was going for.
    • Illuminated the logo and bounced back a subtle warm backlight for the subject.
    • I set this to 3200K to match the Practicals and give a subtle color contrast from the key light.
    • I used these to my advantage, They put off a very warm color temperature and acted as a nice fill for the subject.

    Shot - A

    Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 5.11.11 PM (2).png

    Shot - B

    Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 5.13.47 PM (2).png

    Shot - C

    Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 5.12.49 PM (2).png

    These last two setups have some of the daylight spills, but I feel the ND knocked it down just enough to give the effect of a TV in the background. Also added some nice color contrast.

    Shot - D


    For this last shot of the man in the crowd, I used a NEG fill off camera to the right to block a large amount of daylight spill, and had one LED set at 3200 to really warm him up. The practicals in the background helped a lot to sell this shot.

    Shot - E

    Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 5.14.41 PM (2).png

    All in all, we walked out of the bar very happy with the shots we were able to get in such little time.

    If you would like to see more of these types of breakdowns, I'm open to exploring this type of teaching.



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    2016 // One Second Everyday


    2016 // One Second Everyday

    Watch 2016 through my eyes.

    This is a project one year in the making. I captured one second of my life every day, no matter what happened during that day. It's funny how one second can bring you right back to that moment in time.


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    Work Harder Music Video - Behind the Scenes


    Work Harder Music Video - Behind the Scenes

    I wanted to share the full process from start to finish of Zach Dubois' new music video "Work Harder.”  Zach and I worked together a couple of years ago on a music video about his love for our home state, "Indiana.”

    Since our last music video, my personal style has changed quite a bit: I used to use a tripod and keep things a little simpler. Now, I almost always go handheld. Lately, I've been going for more of an “authentic” feel in my videos.

    The song was about working hard, so we wanted it to feel real; to feel like you are right there with these hard workers, putting your nose to the grindstone. We talked about a lot of different ideas, from following a teacher around for a “day in the life,” to a trucker on the great open road.

    Zach and I both grew up in the same area, and we both agreed that farmers are some of the hardest workers out there. So, that's what we decided to capture.


    Whenever I start a new project like this, I always dump all my thoughts into Evernote. There are few apps out there that I rely on as much as Evernote.

    I gathered my reference images from my library (I'll be writing about this soon). I knew that this would be all natural lighting, and raw. Like I said, I wanted this to feel like you were there with them. During my search for inspiration. I was looking for images that used good natural light, back light, sun flares, use of dirt/dust, etc.  


    We shot this in two half-days. Gear wise, we were lightweight, “run and gun” style. The first day, we shot the performance piece with Zach around the family farm. We started just before sunset to capture the beautiful golden hour and blue hour. This farm was wonderful for our tight shooting schedule, and we were able to capture a dozen different setups within walking distance of each other.

    The second shoot was all about the story: A family farm with four generations. There was no budget for actors in the video, so what you see on the screen is a real family on their real family farm. I didn't do much directing on this video, simply because I wanted it to feel as real as possible. My direction was simple: "You two go over there and do what you would normally do. Don't worry about me."

    This is by far my favorite way to shoot. When working with non-actors, it's easy for them to be nervous on camera. By telling them to just do what they normally do, they typically can forget all about you as the filmmaker, and you can capture some REAL moments.

    Camera Equipment

    • Canon C100 Mark I
    • Wooden Camera Shoulder Rig / Handle 
    • Tamron 24-70 f2.8
    • Rokinon 50mm f1.4
    • Canon 70-200 f4
    • Small HD DP4


    I edited this music video in Adobe Premiere Pro, and color graded in Filmconvert. Check out the time lapse of the full edit below!


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