Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Using LED panel lights to imitate cell phone, computer, or tablet screens

Today in the studio we were covering a situation where we wanted to create a nighttime scene with models in bed using a tablet and laptop and their faces lit up from the screens. I've done similar shots many times before, but in the past I've used tiny flash units hidden near the screen to light the models. This time I decided to try a new technology and use a couple of small LED video panel lights.

This natural light photo taken with a Fuji X-T1 and 56mm f/1.2 lens is a mix of three different types of lighting. The natural ambient light was a soft daylight from windows, There is a tungsten lamp on the nightstand giving off its warm glow. The LED lights were used without their balancing filter to mimic the cooler light given off my most screen devices. 

The shot could not have been easier. The panel LED lights we used were the Bescor LED-70 Dimmable 70W video lights. I chose them because they were small and powerful enough, but were also dimmable making it easy to balance their light output with ambient light. They also take AA batteries instead of a rechargeable cell. We don't use lights like these too often and I didn't want to have them sitting around with a battery cell draining away. With the double A's I can simply pop in batteries whenever we need to use the units. Rechargeables would probably have resulted in a smaller unit, but the dependability of using AA's out-weighed that for me.

The Bescor LED-70 lights give off 70w of light from 96 5mm LED bulbs. The unit comes with two replaceable lamp covers, a diffused clear panel shown on the lights here, and a color-correcting amber screen to balance them more towards natural light at 4300k. 

The lights were powerful enough to allow me to work them at full output with an exposure of 1/500 second and f/1.4 with an ISO of 400 -- more than sufficient for my needs. Bescor also makes a smaller 40w unit for $24.95 using AAA batteries. It it isn't dimmable but could always be used with a neutral density filter gel taped over its face.  

The Bescor LED-70 I used here sells for $39.95 at these stores:   B&H   Adorama   Amazon
The smaller Bescor LED-40 for $24.96 is also available here:  B&H   Adorama    Amazon

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