Recently, you may have noticed photographers transitioning from traditional flash and hot lights to light-emitting diode (LED) lights. In the past, LED lighting has been strictly used as video lights, but while they continue to be the hottest trend in lighting technology they are becoming more popular as a continuous light source. LED panels are making immediate changes to the lighting intuitive meaning what you see is how it will appear.
Since a video light is a smaller light source (compared to a flash with a softbox or umbrella), it will lend a more dramatic look to portraits. It has a specific aesthetic and can add more variety to your still photography. The counter-point to this is that since the video light is usually a small light source, you have to be very specific about the position of the light in relation to your subject, and your subject’s pose. In order to find out how specific we must be, we caught up with Kristoffer Carrillo, a Director of Photography who specializes in producing the perfect shot!
Still Shot using LED
Generally, we want to make sure our subject’s eyes aren’t shrouded, or unflattering and containing harsh shadows across their face. Kristoffer recently was called upon to do a shoot for Smashbox Cosmetics that required high resolution macro shots of a model’s lips. He had to shoot 2 new lip products on a model while she went through a number of expressions (smiling, blowing a kiss, snarling, etc) as the client needed a wide variety of frames from each expression to choose from. Shooting in 4K video along with the combination of StudioPRO 1200 LED continuous light panels allowed Kristoffer to shoot at a deep stop (f/9.0 - f/11) with a narrow shutter angle (22.5 degrees), giving them nice crisp still frames to extract from the video footage [see image below].
"Clam Shell" Configuration
The arrival of cost effective LED lights has facilitated extreme advances in photographic science and required photographers to change the way they use lighting. These innovations have influenced the traditional lighting choice set-up to new possibilities such as the "clam shell" configuration. This is one of Kristoffer's go to lighting set-ups for beauty photography. The set-up gets its name from the clam shape the lighting fixtures resemble once they are in position [see visual below].
For this series of shots, the StudioPRO panel above the camera acts as Kristoffer's key light while the bottom panel is providing fill light that is 1/2 stop under the key. He also used the heavy diffusion panel included with the StudioPRO 1200 lights and set them to daylight (5600K) color temperature. The built in dimmers on the back of the panels work great and gave him "very precise control over both the intensity and color of the lights." Kristoffer chooses a clam shell set-up because it provides a very soft directional light that helps smooth out skin imperfections and renders the model in a very flattering way.
This particular set-up can be used with all types of lighting fixtures, but the principal always remains the same: the more you can get your subject inside the clam, the better. Once you have the technique down, add a couple LED batteries to your gear and, like Kristoffer, you may just be ready to travel the world set to set.
KRISTOFFER CARRILLO is a Director of Photography based in Los Angeles working in commercials, music videos and feature films. He has shot campaigns for clients that include Smashbox Cosmetics, Estée Lauder, McDonald’s, Toyota, Porsche and Red Bull. His branded piece for Glenmorangie Distillery produced by Bloomberg Media Studios was awarded a Silver Telly for cinematography. He also lensed the music video for Afrojack’s “Summerthing!” which was nominated for a 2016 MTV Video Music Award. In addition to his feature film credits, Carrillo is an experienced photographer specializing in beauty, fashion and music. His work has taken him to some of the biggest music festivals to shoot the top musicians in the world.
To see more of Kristoffer Carrillo's production, please visit: kriscarrillo.com