Creative Lighting with Hybrid LED Lights
Lighting That Matches the Way Mirrorless Cameras Were Designed to Work
By StellaPro Champion of Light Joe Edelman
I made the switch to LED lighting a little over a year ago, and I am still kicking myself for not doing it sooner. It just makes sense for mirrorless cameras, since you can view the finished image - exposure - depth of field - all before you press the shutter button.
Let’s face it - the EVF (electronic viewfinder) is a revolutionary advancement for cameras. But as photographers, so many of us continued shooting with strobes as our primary lighting when we didn’t need to.
Being able to see the final image while I am communicating with my subject allows me to notice the subtleties of my light in real time. I can respond to my subjects' movement without bringing the shoot to a halt while I do test shots. I can see exactly what my lighting is doing frame-by-frame - in real time.
How I Made the Shot
5 Creative Lighting Tips
Learn more about Reflex
I love to shoot images with movement in the studio. Having a beautiful, calm subject framed by chaotic moving material is a technique that I have been exploring recently, and I have been achieving some fun results.
Shots like the main image above would not be practical with studio strobes or speedlights. The recycling time and fear of overheating mean that the process of shooting this type of image would be much more hit-or-miss, and it would take considerably longer.
To create the shot, I placed a fan on the floor behind the model and aimed straight up. I fired the camera with a wireless remote control so that I could manipulate the material at the same time. My camera was tethered to a computer which was placed just out of the frame so that I could see the results in real-time as I was working.
I used two Reflex S lights. My main light was placed in a Chimera Softbox 24in Octa Beauty Softbox just above the camera with a 20” x 30” white foam board reflector under the model's face. I had a second Reflex S also placed behind the model and aimed at the bright red background.
Working with the Reflex S, which is capable of a powerful Digital Burst at speeds up to 20 frames per second, I can be sure that I don’t miss the best shot. The Reflex doesn’t overheat, and it never misfires.
5 Tips for Awesome Creative Lighting
Color is where it’s at. Flat, muted colors have been trendy for a few years, but bright, bold colors always draw attention, and they are coming back into vogue. Colored gels will always help to give your images a boost and, even though these are lighting tips - don’t forget that you can add bold colors to a photo with bright-colored backgrounds like the shot above, and you can even use bright-colored makeup and outfits.
Less is Better. The coolest lighting can fall flat if the details in the shot are sloppy or if your subject's expression or body language don’t fit the mood you are trying to create. As photographers, we love our toys, but the less attention you pay to gear during a shoot, the more you can pay attention to what is in front of your camera.
Mix it up and Work the Shot. If you have a go-to lighting arrangement - DON’T use it. Force yourself to think outside the box. Also, don’t be the photographer that sets up a shot, shoots a few frames and then says, “I’m done!”. I always work with the idea that my first set-up is the beginning of the path to finding the best shot. I will make the photograph the way I imagined it and then purposefully experiment with variations to see where it may lead me. Sometimes the result is a subtle change and other times it is a big change. But it is almost always better than when I started.
No studio? No problem! Don’t be afraid to work on location and take advantage of ambient light. If you are working in a space that has tungsten table lamps, for instance, daylight - balanced lighting will allow the tungsten lamps to provide a warm reddish yellow color to your scene. Pay a little extra attention to the backgrounds, you don’t want them to be busy or distracting, the photo is still about your subject. Locations can give you background possibilities that you can’t afford or re-create in your studio.
Highlight your subject's face. I promise you this one is a game changer. Look at my portfolio - the link is below. In almost every photo, even the high-key ones, the model's face is slightly brighter than the rest of the image. This little trick helps to guide the viewer to the most important part of the photo. You see, great compositions aren’t just about the rule of thirds and leading lines. Whenever possible, I will accomplish this in camera, but I have no problem doing a simple dodge and burn layer in Photoshop to brighten the face ever so slightly.
I hope that you found this information useful. Whatever you do - HAVE FUN! Think outside the box and remember, “Your BEST shot, it’s your NEXT shot!” – Joe Edelman