video light

Las Vegas photo session with a model, using video light – model: Taylor B

While in Las Vegas recently, I met up with Taylor B, who is a photographer and model … and also follows the Tangents blog. For a photo session, I decided I would like the glamor and glitz of one of the lobby areas of one of the big Vegas hotels. Taylor’s outfit certainly matched the glitz. Shooting inside the hotel lobby though, I also knew we’d get kicked out immediately if security spotted us. So I took it as a challenge to see if we could surreptitiously shoot without getting shunted out.

Still loving the Litepanels Croma LED video light (vendor) that I showed in the recent review, I decided it might just be the right lighting tool for the job. My friends Nick & Deb graciously tagged along to help, and also provide a bit of cover, while we hung out as a group and mingled.

Instead of working with a light-stand or a monopod, I simply had Nick hand-hold the light as soon as Taylor and I were ready to shoot.

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review: Litepanels Croma LED video light

For one of the mini-workshops in Las Vegas, I used a Litepanels Croma LED video light (vendor). This photo of our model, Gwen, shows the typically dramatic light from a video light. The pronounced light fall off can work to our advantage.

What sets this hand-held / on-camera LED video light apart from most, is that you can vary the color temperature. I have, and still use, the Litepanels MicroPro (vendor). I prefer the MicroPro over many of the cheaper LED lights that I have seen because the WB is daylight, without a nasty color cast.

Litepanels Croma LED video light (vendor), goes even better. You can vary the WB between 3200K and 5600K by dialing a knob. No more need for a gel to be clipped in and out. The gel (or lack of gel) would mean a specific WB with the LitePanels Pro. With the variable adjustment of the Litepanels Croma, you have every color balance setting inbetween. For this photo at the top, we were at 3200K, but I changed the WB to 3300K in post-processing.

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photography: determining the exposure when adding video light

In response to the article on how to shoot romantic wedding portraits, using video light, someone asked about exposure metering with the video light.

“Much in the same vein as using flash, do you establish the ambient exposure first (to your taste) and then add the video light to expose ‘correctly’ for your subject? How do you meter for this video light and therefore adjust the light power to the right level? By chimping on test shots?”

While this would certainly be a correct way of doing it, the practical way of doing it, (for me at least), is slightly different. I simply add the video light to the ambient light …

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photography: video light and daylight

With the recent lighting workshop in New York, we again played with the use of video light … and then took it out to the street. The blue-ish tones of the shady side of the building here, contrasted beautifully with the warm glow of the video light.

As with the article, gelling your flash to get a blue background, this is something that can work very well when we use light sources with different color balance, thereby attaining those complementary colors. The rapid fall-off in light also helped give the photograph a dramatic quality.

The photo above is a crop of the actual image which is also a pull-back shot then to show where the light was positioned:

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using video lights for outdoor night-time portrait photography

The image at the top was taken on the streets in Baltimore during the same time. Again, I controlled the power to match the video light’s brightness better with the background.
camera settings: 1/100 @ f3.5 @ 1600 ISO


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photography composition – finding the other angles

At the same photo shoot-out that the stunning Film Noir Fight Scene came out of, I again worked with a model, Jill. Her hairstyle and dress were strongly reminiscent of the flapper era. It therefore just suited a more dramatic and sexy pose and styling. And of course, dramatic lighting.

For off-the-cuff / on-the-fly dramatic lighting, a video light is hard to beat.

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wedding photography: bride & groom portraits with video light

For that dramatic Hollywood look, a video light is probably the easiest light to use, especially when there is the need to work fast like on a wedding day. With Alli & Scott’s engagement photo session, I knew I’d be working with a couple that would easily go along with any ideas that we’d come up with. We worked indoors at the Temple Israel in Long Island, New York, and there were all kinds of interesting nooks to explore.

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wedding photography – when technique, style & choice of equipment converge

With Manhattan as a back-drop, I wanted a cinematic look for the photograph of Nima and Peter. A magnificent view behind them as they snuggle in. While I approach wedding photography with my eye on telling the story of the day, for me, where a photographer really reveals a specific style, is in the portraits of the bride and groom.

I wanted a romantic look to this sequence of images, so there were specific choices to be made in terms of equipment, camera settings and the lighting. So let’s run through the thought-process.

Since the out-of-focus city scene would be crucial to the mood of the photograph, my camera settings and lens choice had to be specific for this.

We were on the other side of the Hudson, so I needed a long focal length to compress the perspective. I used a 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens with image stabilization / vibration reduction. I used the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR II (vendor), to be specific, but the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II (vendor), is just as beautiful a lens. The reason why Image Stabilization (IS) or Vibration Reduction (VR) is essential, is that I don’t like using a tripod. It’s too static. It allows me one composition. With a stabilized lens, I can move my position and change my perspective and background, without clumsily shifting a tripod around, and move the camera up and down.

It was cold outside, so I needed to do my homework before I took the couple outside. I had to have everything ready beforehand. A few test shots gave me my exposure that was necessary – 1/25 @ f3.2 @ 2000 ISO

These settings had very little wriggle room there. We’re at a very slow shutter speed. We’re (nearly) wide-open on the zoom lens. 2000 ISO is getting to be “up there” on the ISO scale.

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After Dark photography education – Charlotte, NC – 2011

This striking portrait is of Britney, one of the number of models that are at this, the current After Dark photography convention. Regular followers of the Tangents blog will easily recognize the lighting as being a video light. In this case, I reverted to the Lowel ID-light because it creates a stronger beam of light which can be spread wider than an LED video light. Typical of After Dark, this photo session / mini-presentation was an impromptu one that started after the evenings classes and presentations had already ended at midnight.

Meeting up with Britney and her sister Nicole (who is also a model), and two other photographers, the group of photographers eventually spilled out to the lobby of the hotel and swelled to a group of about 30 photographers all taking part. And that’s the reason I wanted to use the Lowel ID-light … the person holding up the video light, could stand further back and we’d still get decent camera settings.  An LED video light would not have been powerful enough for this situation.

image details:
1/160 @ f2.8 @ 1000 ISO … with video light; no flash
Nikon D3;  Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR II (B&H)
The lens was used at 200mm to compress the background – an out-of-focus piece of artwork.

more articles about the use of video light for photography

Enough of the video light though. I’ve gushed about the After Dark experience before when I presented at the Cincinatti event, and when I had a quick look-in at the Las Vegas event.

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romantic wedding portraits with video light

By now it should be clear that I’m quite a fan of video lights for the romantic portrait session with a couple. The Incandescent WB of the video light usually matches the existing light fairly well. Because video light has a rapid fall-off in light intensity to the edges of the beam, it doesn’t “flatten” out the light like bounce flash would. In addition, the video light can seem quite natural in context of the existing light, and not even look like additional lighting. Somehow the light just appears to be great right there.

Here are two images from the wedding at Shadowbrook, NJ, where I had my assistant hold up an LED video light to help light the couple. (It’s the same wedding where I used the black foamie thing during the indoor ceremony.)

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