wedding photography: bride & groom portraits with video light

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.

The majority of their romantic portrait photos were taken using only a single video light – the Lowel ID-Light (B&H).  I chose to work with the Lowel ID-light this time instead of the LitePanels MicroPro LED video light (B&H), because I wanted a video light that was stronger, and that I could diffuse and focus, depending on what I needed. It was just the more flexible choice. (Check this comparative review of the Lowel ID-light vs LED video light.)

Processing for all these images were done in two steps:
1. A variation of my usual digital retouching for portraits, where I have Shine Off on a layer, and Imagenomic Portraiture on a reduced opacity layer.
2. Then I ran a recipe I created in RadLab action set, which I call ‘Vintage‘, and then reduced the opacity to taste.

details for image at the top:
1/50 @ f3.2 @ 1600 ISO
Nikon D3S  (B&H);  Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S (B&H)

In one passageway, there were opposing mirrors, giving an infinity effect. The video light was ideal here in containing the light spill, and making these images possible. (It would’ve been a headache doing this quickly with flash.)

details for the two images above:
1/30 @ f3.2 @ 1600 ISO
Nikon D3S  (B&H);  Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S (B&H)

details for this image:
1/160 @ f1.6 @ 1600 ISO
Nikon 700  (B&H);  Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (B&H)

details for this image:
1/100 @ f1.6 @ 1600 ISO
Nikon 700  (B&H);  Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (B&H)

With both the next two images, we had to turn down the brightness of the video light, so that the detail in the background would be held. With a brighter light on the couple, Alli and Scott, I’d have to use a faster shutter speed / smaller aperture / lower ISO, and the background would go dark, or even black.

details for both images:
1/60 @ f3.2 @ 1600 ISO
Nikon D3S  (B&H);  Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S (B&H)

Finally, a fun image where I wanted to see if the spots on the doors leading to the kitchen would give a surreal quality.


camera settings & photo gear (or equivalents) used during this photo session

1/60 @ f3.2 @ 1600 ISO
Nikon D3S  (B&H);  Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S (B&H)

A video light is an essential part of my lighting arsenal as a wedding photographer. With this set of images, I wanted to show the variety of images and settings that is possible. It is even possible to do the majority of images with just a single video light, if circumstance allows it. Then, there are those times when it is just the easiest lighting tool to use.


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Post-processing of the main image was done with the RadLab plugins from Totally Rad, via a Vintage flavored recipe that I generated and saved. I used this on a layer, and pulled down the opacity to make it more subtle. You can download some of my RadLab recipes to try out and modify.

11 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1 says

    Great shots. It would be even more useful if there are photos showing where the lights are in relation to the couples, like you have done in the past :-)

    Thanks again

  2. 5Doug Scroggins says

    Amazing work Neil, as always. How is that light powered? I checked it out on the site and I want to get one, but I want to make sure I’m not getting in over my head with battery costs and all. Thanks in advance sir.

  3. 7Georg Hill says

    In some shots you have rather long shutter speeds (1/50 and even 1/30). Using flash this is not a problem, but you have here continuous video light! Can you comment on the shutter speeds while using video lights? Do you have some special strategy there?

  4. 8 says

    Georg .. in a situation like that, I shoot a lot, and then cull the images during post-production. Because the video light is continuous light, it isn’t as if I would blow out a flashgun, or annoy my subjects with a blitz of flash pops going off.

    Here I did try machine-gunning it, but I felt like I had a lower rate of success than usual, possibly because of mirror slap. But there were enough crisply sharp images that it wasn’t an issue.

    related articles:
    machine-gunning the camera as a technique in low light
    wedding photography – when style, technique & choice of gear converge

    Neil vN

  5. 11Donna Mahar says

    I have several of your books and read the tangents. Attending your seminar at Unique Photo was best this I did. You explained everything in a manner that I could understand. Now when I see your photos I know evern more about how they were done and your thoughts behind the shots. Now I can move forward.

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