Femme Fatale with Alicia & Chai – Video Light



Having not used my video light in a while on shoot I decided to arrange two shoots specifically for that purpose.

Using a Femme Fatale theme both shoots were shot at night time in Old Portsmouth. I’d previously scouted out a suitable location that I knew would work.

The video light that I use is a 96 LED, dimmable, unit, which produces hard, contrasty light. Perfect for creating the cinematic drama for our theme. Being small, the light requires specific placement on the models face, or, subtle direction of the model when the light is mounted on a stand.

In either case I am aiming for butterfly styled light under the models nose, or at least, a shadow which does not smear too much off to the side.


If I have an assistant to hold the light (thank you Ryan Kempe for assisting with Chai), then I ask them to try and follow the movement of the models head to maintain this shadow.

The light is inevitably positioned straight on, at an angle of approx 45º, to the face. Shooting at an angle to the model gives a nice interesting shadow across the face…


The light itself is relatively low powered, although can be quite bright on the eye, meaning it is suitable only in low ambient light situations…. As a result I am shooting at wide apertures (f/1.8 – 2.8 territory) and high ISO’s (ISO 1600ish). My shutter speed is largely governed by ensuring a hand holdable speed based on focal length. A vibration reduction lens can help massively here if you are looking to lower the ISO.

Although cool, be careful with that shallow depth of field to maintain a sharp subject! Remember depth of field will decrease with increased focal length or shorter distance to subject.

As video light is continuous, aperture, ISO and shutter speed will all influence the exposure of the light. I don’t meter specifically for the light itself, more choose a range of settings which looks good for the backdrop and then add the light. I know intuitively at which camera settings the light will be correctly exposed or adjust the power or distance of the light to subject as required.

The white balance of the light can be adjusted to match the ambient light, or for effect, as required by adding or removing a magnetic orange filter to the front of the unit. Here, I added the filter to match the warm lights of the street/building/car lights.


For fuller length shots I also occassionally added a blip of rim light using an off-camera flash. For ‘strobe type’ lights, exposure is only affected by aperture, ISO, distance to subject and power (whilst below the max sync speed of the camera). As I am at typically ISO 1600, f/2 ish, then I had to dial my flash power way down to 1/128 power to avoid it being too strong. For effect I gelled the flash with either a red gel….


Or a blue one….


A big thanks to both models on these shoots…Alicia Penney and Chai. Miriam King for providing har/make up for Alicia and Glamragzz for providing body suit and jewellery.

A link to other images can be found on my portfolio.


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