It's all florescent all the time this week.....

For most of my career my friends and I lusted after the coolest lighting gear in the catalogs.  But then digital came along and the high ISO's (of late) coupled with the ability to white balance just about anything gave us license to make our own stuff.  And we have.  With a vengeance.

There are two kinds of lights I'm interested in right now and both of them are continuous.  I'm very interested to see what will be done with LED lights but wow! the prices are incredibly high right now.  I hope Murphy's Law smacks LED lighting with a big stick so I can actually afford a few square feet of cool light panels instead of weighing whether it would be wiser to drop the same kind of money into a new car.....(But what photographer could ever give up a Honda Element??).

The lights I can afford to play with right now are florescents and boy, are they fun.  The advantages?:

  1. If you buy individual units at a discount hardware store you can get them dirt cheap.
  2. If you want to make bigger banks you just buy a few more and lash em together.  They're easily scalable.
  3. You can cover your banks with any kind of diffusion material you'd like.
  4. When you're finished playing around with them you can use the individual lights as work lights around the house and (with and inverter) in your car.
  5. People don't blink like they do when they are anticipating the flash from strobes.
  6. The soft glow makes for a quieter and more intimate portrait session.
  7. They don't heat up your studio or location.
  8. They don't draw a lot of current.
  9. If you want to upgrade to Kino Flo color quality you can sub the  tubes for tubes from Kino.  About $30 a whack.
  10. The quality of light looks different than the stuff lots of other people are shooting.
I've got two different commercial fixtures that were designed to work with compact florescent bulbs.  The first is the Westcott TD-5.  It "only" holds five compacts but it works well and it's heavy duty enough to work with 150 watt halogen bulbs instead.

I also just picked up the Interfit Cool Lite 9 for a whopping $279.  It packs nine compact florescents into one spot, comes with a big, hard metal reflector and it's own small (40 inches?) octabank (which I'll never remove since it was so hard to attach.....) but it really puts out a bunch of light!  After decades of working with flash working with continuous lights is kind of refreshing.  You get a nice feel for how to light your photos when you see  the images evolve in real time.  It also makes a nice accent light at parties.

I'm having fun with mine.  

Caption:  Ben Tuck is holding up our latest creation.  We called it Kitchen Lux.  It's composed of four flo fixtures that were meant to be installed under  kitchen counters until we liberated them for a higher calling.  They are meticulously gaffer taped together and the bungee's are there to meet stringent OSHA standards for homemade lumen expellers.  Is that tracing paper on the front?  It's okay to try this at home.