LED lighting. I'm finally getting a handle on this stuff. And I'm using it more and more. It's a "style" thing.
I used one of the "sky bridges" that linked the two sides of the buildings together as a portrait location for some of my shots. What I wanted was the "idea" or feeling of a large, open space but without the instrusion of too much detail. It was the perfect venue for using the technique of shooting a moderate telephoto lens at a shallow aperture. I chose to use a rather pedestrian (but more than adequate) Canon 85mm 1.8 lens, stopped down to f2.8. While the area behind my subject was nice and bright the ceiling over the bridge blocked all the top light and, since he was on the outside edge looking in he wasn't lit by much fill from the other side.
I knew I would have to add light to balance the difference between the illumination where he was standing with the illumination behind him. I also wanted the light to have some direction so I would want it to come from one side, high enough to put a little shadow under his chin. I added a second, harder but weaker kick light from the same side just to add some teeth to the light.
I could have used a small flash into any number of modifying accessories but I've become weary of the constant use of flash. Subjects are used to continuous light. They don't react as much to that. Flash always seems to draw more attention. And subjects also seem to "play to" flash more than to other kinds of light. I was in an experimental mood so I shot all the work on that particular day with a combination of different LED light fixtures. Some battery powered and some A/C powered. And what I liked, once again, was the WYSIWYG nature of the lights. With a 1/4 minus green (a magenta colored filter) over the main light source the balance for the diffuse daylight is pretty darn close. I dropped the green saturation by about -10 in Lightroom 3.2 and that seem to make everything just right.
Here's what the set up looks like:
When I first started working with the LED lights I felt a bit "off" and that perceived lack of mastery is probably what pushed me to continue to work with them. I hate unsolved mysteries. And, in truth, I haven't really changed a bunch of parameters since I started as much as I've just allowed myself to sink in a become comfortable with the lights. It's the same thing we did with studio flash but for many of us it happened so long ago that we've forgotten the learning pains of the process.
Now it's becoming my preference (where practical) to light portraits with LED's. I'm into some mental groove that makes me happy to perennially problem solve and so, I guess the constant need to blend light sources instead of overpowering them is giving me some kind of nice feedback loop.
Let's revisit the ground rules for the blog again: You don't have to light like me. You don't have to use the same gear. I'm just writing "out loud" trying to help you and me understand why I sometimes approach a task the way I do and what the attractions are.
And I'll be frank, part of the attraction right now is that so few other people are lighting things the way I do. And that's cool too.