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.


Gothic Styled Shoot using Video Light


I love using LED video light for photography.

Its continuous light, meaning you have ‘what you see is what you get’ control, and its also a very tight light source, meaning it can look very dramatic and not spill over into unwanted areas of the shot.

The downside is that the power is relatively low, meaning it can only be used in low ambient light scenarios. You also have to be very specific in its placement to produce a flattering light pattern. Its going to produce hard shadows!

It was a perfect light option for a gothic styled editorial evening shoot I had planned in Old Portsmouth. I wanted to have some dramatic lighting mixed in with the candle light used to add some ambience to the shots, and provide some additional background lighting.

When blending additional light with ambient light it helps to match the colour temperature of the two to make the extra light appear seamless.

Although the shoot was performed in ‘daylight’ – it was in fact very dark at this point – the candle light produces a very warm light. As a result the main contributor to the ambient light was the candles. The video light itself is daylight balanced (5600K) but it comes with a very handy magnetic warm filter (3200K). Snapping this onto the front means the colour temperature of the candle light and LED are now much closer.

A link to the LED light can be found here. At between £60-£80 on line these are a bargain addition to a photographers camera bag!

More images from the shoot can be found in my Portfolio section of my web site.

2 great models, Charlotte King and Gemma Butterworth, and hair/make up by Miriam King completed the shoot.

Camera settings for the main above shot ISO 2000, f/4, 1/80 sec.

Video Light – bringing drama and movie-style glamour


I was very excited to be allowed to shoot in Head Hairdressing in Southsea for a Vintage/Rock-chic shoot with the fantastic Florence Stirzaker. The shoot was styled by Miriam King who created a classic make-up/hair combo. We wanted to do something with a vintage/rock look without the cheese-factor that rockabilly can sometimes bring.

I knew Head Hairdressers was a great place to shoot and would be perfect for the style of shoot, having a certain modern-retro feel to the interior.

I was also excited as I knew that my recently purchased video light would provide the perfect lighting. The dramatic fall-of of light creates a certain vintage styled glamour and Florence Stirzaker has a very classic look on camera. The owner of the salon opened up the front shutters to allow maximum light in, which I asked him to close again – I wanted something quite dark and sultry looking with the video light providing a spot-light effect on the model.

Video light is a continous light source so is a ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (WYSIWYG) light. Its also a small light source so, creates some definate shadows, meaning you have to be very specific in the positioning of it. I am looking for butterfly style lighting when using this; characterised by the ‘butterfly’ shadow under the nose. The relatively low power of the light, compared to a flash gun for example, is refelected in my camera settings. The main image at the top was shot at 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 1600. How did I get to these settings??

The salon was dark so I had to open up my aperture and ISO in order for the ambient light to register, also selecting a hand holdable shutter speed for my chosen focal length (I had two lenses at hand a 50mm and an 85 mm). At these settings the ambient light of the salon was just light enough to provide a bit of context to the image, and without the added video light Florence would have been underexposed. Having got to this stage I simply added the video light on Florence. The video light has a dimmable light switch on it so I adjusted the power so the exposure was correct for Florence at these settings, or, with the light on full power moved it closer or further away as required.

With my aperture quite wide I had to ensure the eyes were in focus; or at least the near facing eye with Florence’s head turned as in the above image.

For certain shots I added a back light using an off-camera flash to provide some rim-lighting, which I added a blue gel to…


I manually metered the flash to give just enough power. In fact with my camera settings as they were I needed the bare minimum of power for it to register (1/128th power). I used the blue-gelled flash in a few of the other shots later on in the sequence too to provide a splash of colour to a red wall (see gallery at bottom).

One other thing to mention is that I gelled my video light to Tungsten by adding the amber magnetic panel to the front. This was so the color balance blended with the ambient lighting in the salon from the overhead hanging spot lights. If I hadn’t had done this then the light from the video light would have looked cold (blue) compared to the ambient background and required lots of cross-processing back in Lightroom to get them to match. Make your life easier by getting the shots right in camera!

Coming back to the overhanging spot lights……

I wanted to do some wider shots, taking in the interesting and fitting items on the wall, however my video light would have been in-shot with Florence standing. She is also model-tall so would have been tricky for me to position correctly! Thinking on my feet, I used the overhanging existing lights as the key light. The lights overhead hang down from the ceiling on wire so could be ‘swung’ over Florence. This then was used as a continuous key-light source, looking once more for the shadow under the nose to get in position correctly.


I was very happy with this shoot and very grateful for the modelling talents of Florence Stirzaker, brining the perfect attitude to the shots, Miriam King for the awesome styling and Head Hairdressers for the perfect setting.