Here’s a trend that I’ve been seeing a lot in wedding photography: shooting stills with a video light. There are some cool advantages to this, and my favorite is the ability to concentrate the light on a single area, instead of the flash just blasting away at the entire scene and illuminating everything. This can lead to some pretty cool dramatic looks. Not that you can’t do that with speedlights – you can snoot it, flag it, and use all kinds of accessories to direct the light, but those suckers still give out a lot of light. My prediction is that video light for still photos is going to be the next big trend, and you’re going to see a lot of third-party accessories for these things, like the way we see accessories for iPods and iPads. Anyway, I did some research and wanted to try one out for myself. I’ve seen the LitePanels Micro lights in action, and they sure do put out a lot of light. Not only that, but they are expensive [$250 (basic) / $400 (pro)]. A little more research, and I came across the CN-126 video light on ebay for a mere $35. Practically the same as the LitePanels, but for way less money - so I bought it. It is a pretty cool little light that runs on 6 AA batteries, has a dimmable switch, and comes with daylight and tungsten colored filters. It is plenty bright, and the dimmer switch allows me to control the light to my liking. One thing that is lacking is that it doesn’t come with any barn doors, so the light spills everywhere, but I cut out some pieces of manila folder and with a little gaffer tape, created my own barn doors that easily fold for storage, and are stiff enough to do what I need it to do when the light is on. The best part about these LED video lights is that they are not hot to the touch – perfect for assistants not burning themselves!
Here is a quick set of photos of a simple setup that I shot of a watch on a glass table. Just one video light sitting on the table at a moderately dim setting, barn doors aimed at the watch at a 45 degree angle. The dim light allows the background to go dark, and all that is illuminated (the watch) is what makes the picture. Had I shot this with a speedlight, you probably would have seen the entire table, and the kitchen in the back. Not quite as cool, as you can imagine. So there you have it! By the way, you can make the same type of image using a simple desk lamp. Or even a cell phone for that matter. Remember this photo? Yep - lit with a cell phone. Go out and try it!