It is all about the light.
You know it, but maybe you don't think about it as much as you should.
We often hear that a movie/short is 50% audio – and in so many ways that is so very true. But, at the same time, the visual side of the content is 50% about the light.
Sure, I just made that up, but the more I learn about photography and video, the more I realize that one of the main things that makes or breaks an image is the light. After all, without the light, there wouldn't be anything to see.
Being on set with masters of light like Shane Hurlbut has also taught me just how important lighting is. If you've ever had the pleasure of watching him work, or even just watching some of this tutorials, you'll know that light is critical to the way he works.
So, all that being said, I ran into this article the other day about some of the basics of lighting and thought it would either be a great beginning or a great refresher to many of you.
A Breakdown of Lighting Options Available for Photo and Video
In recent years, the lighting world has become more and more complicated with a forever growing variety of lighting. Where once it was just Fresnel’s (of both the Tungsten and HMI type) and strobes, it has now evolved into LEDs, fluorescents, fusion lights, and a dozen other options that work well for both photo and video. Certainly, for those who are looking to transition into lighting, this can be incredibly complicated, so let’s go over the various lighting options available for both photo, and video.
Without a doubt, the most common, as well as more tried and true lighting available for photography comes as strobe kits. Strobe lights aren’t like what you might find in a nightclub, but share the name for achieving similar results – firing a quick blast of light when the shutter opens, and turning back off by the time the shutter closes. The biggest benefit of this is that you get an incredible amount of power… but let me explain further.
Benefits of Strobe Lighting
Think of the sun as a light that is always on. Increasing your shutter, or stopping down your aperture will decrease it’s power on the sensor because the sensor will be exposed to light for a shorter amount of time (or through a smaller entry point). Strobes, however, have a flash duration of anywhere from 1/10,000th of a second to 1/50,000th of a second depending on the model. So shutter speed has no bearing effect on the power of the light (until you increase past sync speed, which is a camera shutter issue, not strobe issue). This means when it comes to photography, the light power potential of a strobe is better than anything else available.
Downsides of Strobe Lighting
The biggest downside of strobe lighting is that because of its quick ‘on/off’ design, it’s useless for video production. While many of these lights have modeling lights that are consistent powered and could be used for video functionality, the practicality does not compare to other video lighting available.
Lights for Both Photo and Video
Among the most common lighting in recent years, comes in the form of LED panels. These range in size and price, but are multiple LED bulbs laid on out on a board, with the options to diffuse the lighting, as well as change color balance and power settings.
Benefits to LED Panels
The biggest advantage to LED Panels is that they’re an all in one solution for most people. Depending on the size, and the included diffusion panels, you’re usually able to get away with using the panel itself, without any need for a softbox or other light shaper. Additionally, they generate virtually no heat whatsoever, so are perfect for closed and confined spaces, where heat could be an issue.
Downsides to LED Panels
Perhaps the biggest downside to LED panels is that they’re not very powerful. While they seem powerful when being turned on to max brightness, you’ll find that the capable power is diminished significantly when used in bright sunlight. That is why these are used in studios, or in the evening or the shadows. Another downside comes in the fracturing of the shadows. Because these panels are multiple light sources laid out in an array, the shadows will often have a distinct quality to them that is regarded as unpleasant. More expensive models will often fix this issue, by using better diffusion options and positioning the bulbs closer together.
Read full article at Lensrentals “A Breakdown of Lighting Options Available for Photo and Video”
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(cover photo credit: snap from Lensrentals)