Film, TV and Virtual Production Studios in London - Broadley Studios
Film, TV and Virtual Production Studios in London - Broadley Studios
Film and TV Studio in London - Broadley Studio

Using Continuous Lighting for Photography

By Richard Landy

Continuous lighting for photography has a few pros and cons over standard flash heads.

The main advantage is that you can see exactly what the lighting looks like as you’re making alterations which is useful if, like me, you are are usually lighting for film. Another advantage of continuous lighting is that if you’re shooting video and stills at the same time, then one lighting setup will cover both without the need to set up separate flash heads.

The film lights I used were:

•  2 x 2k ARRI Fresnels
•  4 x 650 ARRI Fresnels
•  2 x Filmgear kinoflo equivalents (which have some nice design features that improve on the original kinoflo design, like the improved universal joint on the back) and
•  2 x octodome softboxes for the ARRI 2k. Octodomes are fantastic to light with so to have 2 available was ideal.

continuous lighting set up
Fashion shoot at Broadley Studios

Lighting with Coloured Gels

Lighting with coloured gels is a tricky beast.

You have to make sure the colour palette you choose works together and also works with skin tones. It’s considered poor form to make your models look like they have jaundice.

The other aspect of using coloured gels is that it will magnify and mistakes in your lighting which might get by unnoticed when the light is all one colour. Another point to note about coloured gels is that the colours can’t mix on the model or they will just bleach each other out to white which adds a new level of challenge to lighting your models well.

A Case Study

Below are some shots from the shoot:

continuous lighting case study
filming with continuous light

These first 2 are actually the same setup, by facing the model left and right she is catching different aspects of the set up. I used the two 2k lights with the softboxes attached as well as the 2 film gear light banks and a 650 light.

The Softboxes were placed either side of the model and gelled teal on the left and magenta on the right, I then wrapped the light from each softbox with a FIlmgear light bank gelled the same colour.

The light bank’s slightly harder light adds to the soft light from the soft boxes to give you a smooth transition of soft light on the face to a hard rim light. The 650 was gelled and used to light the backdrop.

model with red reflection
colour shadow example

In these 2 shots I used a lighting technique to create a coloured shadow. These were shot with only 2 lights, one of the 2k Fresnels with a softbox and a 650.

To achieve this lighting style, the background is lit with a coloured gel and the model is lit with a hard light source which creates a clean shadow and bleaches out the background colour not blocked by the shadow. In this case, I removed the diffuse from the softbox which in essence gave me a very large hard light source with a slight softness to it so it was more flattering.

colour shadow with continuous lighting

In this, next shot I went with an orange and teal combination. This combination worked well with the model’s natural skin and hair tones.

This was a fairly standard Rembrandt lighting setup with a few tweaks, I used the 2k with softbox as well as one of the Filmgear light banks and a 650. The softbox acted as the Rembrandt light which was gelled to a full CTO, with the white balance set to tungsten this gives you a nice warm orange.

The lightbank was set up as a opposite side kicker, catching the hair and arm. The 650 was gelled with a full CTO and used to light the backdrop.

light effects when filming

The next set up built on the previous one with an additional soft box gelled a soft magenta opposite the rembrandt light creating a subtle 2 tone skin effect.

model with headscarf

In this last shot, I used one of the studios red coloramas as a backdrop. I used the 2k with softbox as a key light and a red gelled filmgear light bank as a rim light. To light the backdrop I just used the spill from the key light.”

Considering the use of continuous lighting for photography brings about its own set of advantages and challenges compared to standard flash heads. Let's delve into the details:

Advantages of Continuous Lighting

One significant advantage is the ability to see precisely how the lighting affects your scene as you make adjustments, particularly beneficial for those accustomed to lighting for film. Additionally, if you're working on both video and stills simultaneously, a single lighting setup can cater to both needs without the hassle of setting up separate flash heads.

In a recent shoot, I utilised a variety of film lights, including 2k ARRI Fresnels, 650 ARRI Fresnels, Filmgear kinoflo equivalents, and octodome softboxes for the ARRI 2k. These tools provided ample flexibility and control over the lighting setup, ensuring optimal results.

Challenges of Using Coloured Gels

Working with coloured gels adds another layer of complexity to the lighting process.

It's crucial to select a cohesive color palette that complements both the scene and the subjects' skin tones. Avoiding unrealistic or unflattering color casts is key, as these can detract from the overall quality of the image.

Furthermore, using coloured gels accentuates any imperfections in your lighting setup, necessitating meticulous attention to detail. Mixing colors on the model requires careful consideration to prevent colors from blending and washing out, presenting an additional challenge in achieving well-lit shots.

Key Lighting Techniques

Throughout the shoot, I employed various lighting techniques to achieve desired effects.

For instance, by strategically positioning lights and utilising coloured gels, I created captivating coloured shadows that added depth and dimension to the images.

In one setup, I opted for an orange and teal color combination, which complemented the model's natural skin tones. By carefully balancing key and kicker lights, I achieved a harmonious blend of warm and cool tones, enhancing the visual appeal of the scene.

Building on Previous Setups

Subsequent setups built upon these techniques, introducing additional elements such as two-tone skin effects and textured backdrops. Each adjustment served to refine the composition and add visual interest, resulting in dynamic and engaging photographs.

FAQ: How to Use Continuous Lighting in Photography?

Continuous lighting offers a versatile and intuitive approach to photography, allowing for real-time adjustments and seamless integration with video production.

When you are working on with continuous lighting on your next photgraphy shoot, remember:

1.  Continuous lighting comes with significant advantages
2.  It works well for both stills and video
3.  Working with coloured gels is fiddly and requires attention to detail
4.  You will be better able to see how the lighting affects your scene
5.  There are downsides adding complexity to your shoot

By mastering lighting techniques and creatively utilising tools such as coloured gels, photographers can elevate their work to new heights of artistry and expression.

Broadley Studios - THE Content Experts

If you're considering a similar shoot using continuous lighting and would like expert guidance and support, feel free to reach out to us at at +442077255858 or email us at [email protected].

We're here to help bring your vision to life with professionalism and creativity.

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