Monday, March 29, 2010

The Balancing Act Of Flash On Location

By Mark Edward Harris Published in Photography Lighting
The Balancing Act  Of Flash On Location

Ultraportable Lighting For Hybrid Video

With the ability to shoot HD video with hybrid cameras has come the need to have a continuous light source for low-light and fill-light situations. Since I’m often on my own for travel assignments, it’s not realistic to be lugging hot lights, HMIs and so on around the globe. For a commercial job, that’s a different story, and there are great travel kits available for those situations and, of course, great assistants to help carry them.

Lightweight and compact LED lighting, such as those made by ikan, Litepanels and Lowel, is the hybrid-video equivalent to carrying around a flash for still shooting. All have dimmers to vary the output. The same attention to color balance must be taken into consideration with these artificial light sources.

Measuring 3.3x3.3x1.5 inches, the Litepanels Micro is powered by four AA batteries (runs 1.5 hours on four alkaline AA batteries or 7 to 8 hours on E2 lithium AA batteries) for location work or by a 5-12V input jack located on the back of the unit. A flip-down filter holder allows for work with color and diffusion gels. The Litepanels Micro housing has a camera shoe featuring an adjustable tilt mechanism. To allow for multiple mounting configurations, it also may be mounted on the optional base plate for off-camera usage.

The Litepanels MicroPro runs off six AA batteries and has twice the illumination of the Litepanels Micro. The 5.5x4x1.5-inch LED light has a daylight output of 5600 K and comes with a 3200 K Daylight to Tungsten conversion gel, as well as a 1?4 CTO warm and White Diffusion.

ikan’s iLED 150 with its built-in battery mount and small size puts out 60 lux, especially impressive when taking into consideration its compact size of 6x3.25x1.375 inches and weight of 0.85 pounds with battery. The iLED kit comes with three color-correction gels, an AC adapter, a Sony-compatible battery and charger, and a camera-shoe mount v.3 in a small soft case.

Powered by AC or by battery, the Lowel Blender with a 4x3x3-inch lamp-head is another option. It has two sets of LEDs in tungsten and daylight color in one unit, which can be blended to match mixed light sources. Rotary dimmer controls for each are located on the back of the fixture. It comes with a set of front diffusers for softening the light output.

DSLRs Drive The Renaissance In Flash

Recent advancements in the ISO capability of DSLRs have changed the game for location shooters. When your camera can take a low-noise photograph at ISO 800 or higher, the need for flash to get an image begins to fade away. (See “The Digital Decisive Moment” in the January/February issue of Digital Photo Pro or on our website, Having that kind of ability to shoot in low-light lets you use flash or other artificial lighting as a creative tool instead of a requirement.

ISO technology is driving the ability of pros to go ultralight and to get more creative with ultraportable lighting. Photographers like Mark Edward Harris use flash to create atmosphere and drama instead of merely using it to blast some illumination on the main subject.
Nikon D3S

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