Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lighting Makes The Difference: Fill In The Light

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right?
Text & Photography By Tom Bol Published in Shooting
Lighting Makes The Difference: Fill In The Light

Using a larger pack like the Ranger also gives me another option. So far we’ve looked at adding a little fill light to the image and keeping the daylight exposure very close to correct exposure. But what if I want to darken the background two stops and create a moody portrait? Using a powerful flash like the Ranger will allow me to darken the background in the middle of a sunny day and still have enough flash power to illuminate the subject.

Video Fill Light

DSLR video is becoming increasingly popular. Now you not only can shoot stills of your child’s birthday, but you also can shoot some very high-quality video as well. The same lighting problems that plague still photographers also cause problems for video photographers. On sunny days, video capture has dynamic range limitations just like still images. The solution is the same: Add some fill light to reduce contrast and create a better shot.

Since video needs continuous-light sources for illumination, we can’t use speedlights or studio strobes that produce bursts of light. Many of these packs have modeling lights that are continuous, but don’t have enough power to light many scenarios. And since many people may need to shoot video footage away from AC power, our light source has to be battery-powered. Enter Litepanels.

Litepanels makes LED light panels that come in a variety of sizes, from simple hot-shoe-mounted panels to larger one-foot-square panels. These panels have adjustable power and even can change the light temperature from daylight to incandescent for working with interior lighting. I use the Litepanels MicroPro, which works great for adding a little fill light to my video.

I like to shoot video behind the scenes at my photo shoots. I attach a Litepanels MicroPro to my camera hot-shoe, adjust the output until I see a nice fill light on my subject, and shoot away. Since the Litepanels is battery-operated, I also can attach it off-camera to a lightstand. These lights are very small and fit right into my photo backpack.

I have another shoot tomorrow with a stunning model. Since she only can shoot at midday, I’m already getting that sour taste in my mouth. High overhead sun, not good. Strong contrasty light, bad idea. But I’m not too worried because I’ll find some shade to shoot in and add some fill-flash. I’m going to make that portrait sing!

Tom Bol is a freelance editorial and commercial photographer based in Colorado. You can see more of his photography at

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