If you’re yet to venture into the world of lighting and aren’t confident with flash, then continuous lighting might be ideal for you. In a sense, what you see is what you get.
In this episode, Gina and Valerie discuss what you need to know if you want to experiment with continuous lighting and provide examples of simple and inexpensive options so that you don’t have to make fancy purchases that will break the bank.
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Flash vs Continuous
|More power||Less power|
|Smaller size and weight/portable||Heavy need power supply or battery|
|Rated at 5200/5500K (daylight)||All over the place|
|Difficult to measure power
Need a light meter or chimping
|Can use inbuilt camera meter|
|Need a flash trigger||Constant|
1. Seeing the light
- Continuous lighting allows you to see exactly how your light is affecting your subject
- Takes the guess work out
- You can work quickly
- Fewer errors
- Better for beginners
- Can be used with filming and stills
- Easier to learn
- Cheaper start up costs
2. Color balance
LED can change colour temperature without using gels
TIP: start with black and white to learn how to see lighting
3. Control the power
Many LEDs are dimmable so you can control the power
4. Fast shutter speeds are possible
Shoot wide open and at any shutter speed
5. Continuous lighting is getting better and cheaper
6. More options
It’s great to be able to offer both options of video and flash to your clients
7. Continuous lighting can be a better experience for the model
You’ll also be able to shoot faster
8. Continuous looks less clinical
- Higher ISO
- Use a tripod to avoid camera shake due to lower shutter speeeds
- Pupils will become smaller vs flash where they dilate
- Tungsten light is warmer light than flash and other types of lighting.
- WB and colour correction using gels is essential
- Some lights get hot. Beware around pets, children and using them with gels or scrims as they may burn or become a fire hazard
Types of continuous lighting
- hard light that casts hard shadows.
- reflector for the bulb, and provides nothing in between the bulb and the subject.
- Cheapest version is a desk lamp
- 800W “Redhead” and 2000W “Blonde” are well-known examples of open faced video lights.
- Lens can be focused from flood light to spot
Tungsten (Quartz Halogen/Tungsten Halogen)
- Tungsten light sources are like old school incandescent filament bulbs we used to have at home
- Creates a warm light, that can be corrected with gels to simulate daylight.
- HMI stands for Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide
- HMI’s are used when lots of power is needed. Eg to light a street or simulate sunshine/daylight
- Super expensive and don’t ever drop one because it will explode.
- High output and relatively cheap.
- More expensive ones are daylight balanced
- Can be used as single tubes or banks of light
- Warm and cool tubes can be mixed together to create specific colour temperature
- Cheaper lights will flicker on video and have a magenta or green colour cast
- LED stands for light emitting diode
- More powerful LED’s have become available
- LED lights can be daylight or tungsten balanced
What is CRI and why does it matter?
- CRI (Color Rendering Index) rating.
- The higher the CRI, the more colours that light is able to render, giving a more precise image for the camera to capture.
- LED lights with low CRI rating will have a colour hue, greens or magenta cast
- As a general rule, if you want good looking light look for 85+ CRI rating and preferably 90+.
- No CRI on cheaper lights means it will have colour cast
What kind of globes should you use?
- Starting out anything will work
- Shoot raw
- Fix WB in post
A few kits worth testing
Bescor LED-500KB Twin 500W ($500)
Dial in colour temperature
The Westcott uLite 2-Light Octabox 200W Fluorescent Kit (approx $350)
+an octabox diffuser
Each uLite holds four bulbs
- Bounce lights into a white wall or v flats
- Shoot through a large scrim
- Umbrellas and soft boxes
- Fresnel spots
Basic set ups
Basic Headshot set up (very even lighting)
Four soft boxes or flouro banks or LED panels create an even light, perfect for headshots and beauty lighting.
This style of lighting is used by photographers like Peter Hurley.
- A similar setup can be created using a beauty dish/Octabox or light and diffusor
- A large homemade scrim and continuous lighting gives a beautiful soft daylight look to an image
- A softer light can be achieved by bouncing light into a white wall or ceiling