Photographer: Andrew Kung and Rachel Lutz/Andrew Kung Group
Assist/BTS: Zach Browning and Nate Smith/Andrew Kung Group
Category: Fashion Continuous Light Photoshoot Case Study
You’ve seen shoots with colorful backgrounds and more often than not, the backgrounds are Savage Widetone Colored Paper Seamless backdrops or a white backdrop is lit with strobes and colored gels. For the most part as well, most of these types of fashion shoots are shot entirely with flash/strobes.
What we wanted to do here was twofold; we wanted to showcase the ability to shoot our fashion model with continuous lighting AND to use the same continuous lighting to light the background with different colors almost instantly, without having to switch out backdrops or replace gels on the background lights. Well, technically, we did replace the gels on the background lights, albeit digitally and you probably know where this is heading….
No Strobes Allowed
Our setup was simple for the setup of the background lights but it was a little bit more challenging to dial our key light in. We’ll show you how to achieve this look so just follow us through this process below. You’ll probably notice that the background colors are more vibrant than regular colored seamless paper and this is because when you are shooting with strobes on colored seamless, your daylight/5600k strobes are not only lighting and exposing your background but also ‘diluting’ some of the color on your seamless that is reflected back into your camera’s sensor (unless you use matching colored gels on your strobes). Using continuous RGB LED lighting allows us to shoot on a plain super white seamless backdrop and ‘paint’ it any color we want – the effect is more vibrant and slightly more fluorescent.
We used a total of 4 Litepanels Gemini 2×1 Color RGB LED Panels for this shoot. 3 were dedicated to our background and one was our key light to light our model from the front.
It is important to note that we could shoot our set at 1/160th shutter, f/5.6 aperture and ISO400 easily, with only 1 light illuminating our model.
Here are some examples of the different background colors that we could quickly set in less than 30 seconds:
PHOTOGRAPHY CHEAT SHEET
4 LIGHT SETUP
How To Setup Lighting For Continuous Light Portrait Photography
We used 3 Litepanels Gemini 2×1 Color RGB LED Panels as our background lights, placing 1 on the left and 2 on the right for a very subtle gradation effect (seen only on the wider shots). All 3 background lights were switched to HSI (Hue/Saturation/Intensity) mode and then dialed in digitally to the exact hue that we wanted. In case you didn’t already know, these RGB LED panels can be dialed in to any color in the 360 deg. color wheel. These lights are also incredibly color accurate with a CRI/TLCI rating of 99. What is there not to love?
For this set, we made sure to fully saturate our backdrop so all saturation and intensity settings were maxed out at 100. We also placed our background lights close to the backdrop and made sure to avoid any color spill on our subject. Keep in mind, these lights have a pretty wide beam angle so you want to make sure you are aware of what your background lights are illuminating.
Now for our key light – we had to be very controlled with our key to be sure not to spill any light on the background, since we had it set at 5600k/daylight to match our camera settings to render the colors on our model correctly. Any light spill from our key light would wash out some of the color of the backdrop which was not our intention. To control the wide beam angle and light spill, we used Litepanels’ honeycomb grid insert for the Gemini which then cut our beam angle down to about 60 degrees, giving us a lot of control on the spill and without having to place any additional flags on set. We also placed the light about 3 feet above our model’s eyelevel and angled the light downwards at a 45 degree angle. As you can see in the behind the scenes images, the set is relatively simple, which is always a plus for a small crew like ours. Fewer light stands, scrims and flags make for a much faster day.
Things to watch out for:
1) The Litepanels Gemini’s have to be placed on combo/junior stands with a junior receiver so your regular C-stands or lightstands will not be able to receive your lights unless you switch out the standard yoke mount on the Gemini. Personally, if you don’t have to place your lights very high, I like operating with the Kupo Low Mighty Junior Combo Stand which is really fast to setup and much lighter than the fullsize combo stands.
2) These LED lights don’t draw as much power as tungsten/HMI and other hot lights but you still want to keep your total power draw in mind, since comparatively, for LED lights, these output and correspondingly draw a good amount of power. Make sure your A/C outlet and breaker can handle it. For the record, plugging a few of these lights directly into any normal household A/C outlet is a non-issue (nor is heat an issue with these lights).
3) Remember to keep your model far enough away from the background and the background lights or you will have no choice but to flag off your background lights and risk getting too much color cast spill reflecting off the backdrop onto your subject.
Want to try out this setup? Rent this setup for your next continuous light LED gel photoshoot!
PRESETS & ACTIONS
This LR/PS preset collection produces lighter, brighter images with bold color and sharp details. Many of the Bloom presets increase vibrance and decrease contrast while maintaining shadows and flattering skin tones.
FOUNDER, INSTRUCTOR, NINJA
Andrew has over 15 years of experience in the field and has served on set as the Director of Photography and Principal Stills Photographer for various commercial and advertising campaigns for companies such as Valvoline, Tempur-Pedic, Humana, Churchill Downs and General Electric Appliances.
When he’s not craving sushi (or talking about it), Andrew is an instructor, ninja, and founder of Visionspire. He loves traveling out West, particularly in Sedona and San Diego, sharing cute animal videos, and experimenting with cocktails like he’s the personal mixologist for Bill Murray (his words, not ours).