Every day I read some expert on the web who tells the unwitting and incurious that LED lights aren't ready for prime time, can't be of interest to photographers as long as we can get our hands on some sort of flash mechanism, don't hold a candle to the brilliance of XXX other lighting equipment. But I fundamentally disagree. If you want to do interesting things it helps to use interesting tools. And I find LEDs most interesting.
The image of Erin, above, was done for Zach Scott Theatre's (world) premier of Steven Dietz's play, Mad, Hip, Beat and Gone. The lead tech and I decided on LED lighting for the session because we were shooting for both video and a stills and, well, flash doesn't work so well for video. We were shooting black and white and we're projecting the images up to 24 by 30 feet as part of the on stage production design. The look, feel and style of the images is just what the art folks wanted. And the two hours we spent working under the cool lighting of the LEDs was pleasant. Four lights, a couple modifiers.
Of course the web experts will tell you that you can't get good color out of LEDs but that's not true either. The above shot of the cook is lit with LEDs mixed with the lighting in the kitchen. If you look at the inexpensive florescent bulbs under the hood vent you'll see a classic green spike. But that was coming from the Flos, not the LEDs. I could have used flash but why? This is the image I was looking for and the blend of light sources is part of the magic. Need more color purity? Turn off the overheads and put more LEDs in to take their places. (color pumped up but not corrected in Snapseed).
From the very first day I used a decent, modern LED that plugged into the wall I've been sold on the what you see is what you get accuracy of the way the lights track. I like the way they can mix and blend with ambient lighting and I love the quick, no hassle set ups. When I go battery powered I love the fact that I can get good color, ample output and not have cords to trip over.
In fact, I liked LEDs so much I asked my publisher at Amherst Media if I could write a book about the subject. It's still the only book out in the market for photographers that is a dedicated introduction to LED lighting. If you are curious about the future of lighting I humbly suggest you read my book. At the very least you may come away comfortable with what you already have in your light kit but with some curiosity satisfied.
I'm loving their use as Hybrid Lights. Crossing over between video and stills. Easily.
Here's a link to the book at Amazon: LED LOVE
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