Lighting with a Tube

Flash is harsh, direct, raw, and is something I will use only when I want these qualities. For soft, emotive, moody lighting I would often go with available light. Even so, often the available lights cannot really create the kind of look one would want without any modifications. In my kit I carry 3 LED lights with me, 2 of them being small panels and one being a tube.

Now you may have seen the tube light before, they come in all forms, from maintenance lights to fluorescent tubes to LED tube lights and so on. The one I use is the Westcott Ice Light (the Ice Light V2 is now available at the time of writing), though it's been a while and there have been cheap Chinese knockoffs that perform just as well for a fraction of the price. I saw a video of someone using 8 Ice Lights, they must be crazy to spend so much money on 8 of them, of course unless they're sponsored.

The light is small enough to take on a carry on or throw in a bag and be versatile enough in power level to blend with a lot of available light. As the main light, the light tube produces a soft edged, small light onto the subject, very soft if placed right next to it. When I move the light 10 feet away from the subject, the tube will appear as a harsher light source, great for accentuating details and enhancing contrast.

For the examples you see below, the Ice Light was mounted on the Manfrotto Nano Light Stand using the Umbrella Adapter and the Articulating Arm for 360 degrees free moment and positioning.  This setup is the smallest I can find while still being stable.

Light Tube as Hard Light

In the shoot I had with Johnny, I used LEDs to mix the available lights.  In the following shot, I had the light above Johnny at an angle to imitate what an overhead light would look like.  The contrast from the size of the light made it possible to accentuate his features.

Light Tube as Soft Light

If I bring the light closer, it will begin to wrap around the subject and create a softer light than from being far away.  I like using the light with gels to accentuate the mood.  I use the Lee's Master Location filter gel pack for coloring, each sheet of filter cuts to 4 pieces perfectly.  I also use Cinefoil to shape the light, flagging it off so it doesn't go everywhere.  An alternative to the Cinefoil is the official barn doors made by Westcott.

In the images above, the light is nice and soft when placed up close.  The colors were created using color gels placed in combination like this:

Light Tube as Fill Light

When used close and out of frame, the light is also great as a fill light to fill out the shadow underneath the eyes and neck.  Gel it or place it however you'd like, just make sure the light is not as bright as the key light.  In the images below, I used a projector to create a custom pattern that I placed on the model, the rest of the blue light is a gelled Ice Light that you can see in one of the photo.

The Ice Light is a great location light that's easy to take.  The color is accurate and easy to modify.  The difference between the Chinese knock offs are color temperature, brightness and durability.  It's a must have to any location lighting kit because of it's versatility.

Categories: equipment, Tutorial

cinematic haoyuan ren ice light ice light 2 lighting moody nikon portrait tutorial westcott