Lights, camera…

February 1, 2019

..COME BEFORE ACTION

Last year, I assisted a great photographer and film maker in Archie Brooksbank on a night shoot in London. I’ll do a post on that (and other work we’ve done together) another time, but when you go and work with other people, it is always great to learn things.

Archie had me helping out with some lighting that I’d not used before, but within a few minutes, I was quite taken with it. It was from Rotolight, a British based, LED lighting company. What appealed to a thicko like me, is they are easy and intuitive to use. I didn’t need showing more than once to know how to use them and I need instructions repeatedly thumped in to me all the time.

The smaller, NEO system of lights, we used to light the interior of the car as well as popping one behind the car. The only downside of these, if not using mains power, is that they run on AA batteries and as with all things battery powered, you need to be prudent in between shots otherwise they’ll deplete quickly.

That said, the range of CTO gels that are provided, when used in conjunction with the temperature setting, allows you to easily balance the light whatever the ambient is up to. They’re  ideal for low-light conditions although you won’t be stopping midday sun with them.

We also used the larger, AEOS system as the key lights. Essentially a larger, more powerful version. There are options in the menu’s allowing you to have a range of settings from simple brightness and temperature through to using them with a trigger as flash and effects such as strobe/fire settings (ideal for videography).

Versatile and lightweight plus great constant colour tone meant we got what we needed on that shoot and I made the usual mental note to look into them in the future.

(Above image © Archie Brooksbank)

Roll forward nearly a year and I’ve just done my first couple of shoots with them. I have to say that they’re a great addition to the kit bag. The larger AEOS system with re-chargeable lithium battery packs, certainly pack a punch. On a recent night shoot, the brief was simply ‘Bladerunner’ and the lights mixed with the CTO packs came through. With a mix of light painting and close-up, we really had the chance to make the most of London.

The end result had a constant colour tone across the set and, considering when I knew what car we were shooting, I’d had a lot of other ideas, to see such a classic car shot in a slightly more modern way has been well received. I’ll do a more complete post on this shoot soon!

Again, the system came into its own on a fashion shoot where we had limited space plus low ambient light. In the main, the lights were only going to be needed to lift the images but in the end, we decided to add a little more into the shoot.

The other benefit with the constant lighting is that you can really stop down on the lens to pick out detail. Light, convenient and easy to use, I honestly bagged more shots than I would’ve done with strobes alone. They can also be run off a battery pack/generator/mains so all round, there are some great options available to you.

My preference to shoot low-key over high-key is really suited to the Rotolight kit and the company is constantly developing their LED system but I loved it. With planning for 2019 well underway, I expect to be using them again very soon.

If there’s something I’ve done that you like and want to know more, drop me a line.

‘It’s all about the light’ – Ian Badley

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