LED Lighting. Kirk's Fifth Book.
Of all the changes that technology's brought to photography one of the most interesting to me is how it's changed the way we light things. The tools are transforming the vision of a generation. Cameras with faster ISOs require less light but the light you do bring to the table is so much more controllable and easy to use than ever before. While most still photographers use flash in some form I'm pretty certain that the future will call for more use of continuous light and more flexibility in choosing our tools.
I started using LEDs when Canon and Nikon and Olympus and Sony started putting really cool video capabilities in their cameras. I wanted to see if I could open up some profitable markets for myself by adding video to the product mix I offer my clients. While I'm not setting the world on fire with video, the simple interviews and web videos I've done put an extra $10,000+ in my accounts last year. Not big money but if we work hard on improving every step I'm sure we can make those numbers grow, year by year.
So I got my first set of LED lights to augment available light with video but on the way to becoming the next Steven Spielberg I noticed that I was attracted to using the LEDs, more and more, for still life work where the WYSIWYG nature of continuous lighting made my shoot more efficient and productive. Now I had a reason to jump in and learn with both feet. So I bought more and bigger panels. In effect, I slid into LED lighting the way you slide into a hot bath....just a toe at a time and then finally, the commitment, and the plunge.
Now, a year and a half later, I've used the LEDs to light executive portraits, twilight portraits, complex (for me) food shoots, studio shoots with actors for Zachary Scott Theater, and some really fun and fast moving corporate reportage. A few days ago I was asked to photograph some books in a three dimensional sort of way. A few years back I would have been reaching for the electronic flash monolights and I'd start the "chimping" process. I'd be setting up soft boxes and umbrellas and blah, blah, blah.
With my bigger LED panels I just flipped the switch to "on," lined up the shot on the live view screen of my camera, set the aperture I knew I'd need to cover the book with sharp focus, adjusted the shutter speed until the live histogram looked correct and then tripped the shutter. A quick, magnified look at the file and I was on to the next set up. Color? Perfect. Just using AWB. Perfect? I finished in two hours what had taken me, in past "flash centric" shoots, perhaps four or five hours.
In the book I've written about choosing the right LEDs. About the accessories that seem to work best for me working with the lights. About using them for my favorite subject: Portraits. There are over 250 images that illustrate every point. The book is 160 pages long as is the culmination of a year and a half of research and "real world" use. And then six long months of writing a re-writing.
I hope you'll take a chance and add this book to your library of photographic books. I'll continue to update my knowledge base about LEDs and what's changing in the market place and share that information here. What every writer in this day and age needs is the support of his audience. In a way the books pay for and are the prime impetus for writing this blog. Every book sold gives me time to explore, write and shoot more.