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I recently had the opportunity to try out Savage Universal’s new RGB300 Color Video Light. While I have played a bit with color gels in the past I shoot almost solely with strobes so I was eager to see how the constant light version of gels would work. One of the things I have found from shooting with gels and strobes in the past is that there is a lot of guess and check work. It is difficult to get the saturation of the light correct, as well as the position of the light to the subject in order to get the desired wrap of light. Because of this I was intrigued by the idea of being able to visualize the intensity and position of the light before even stepping behind the camera. After a bit of experimentation and playing around with various color combinations with the RGB300’s, I was amazed by the imagery I was able to create.

Tips to Get Started

In the following tutorial I will share tips and show lighting diagrams along with the resulting images. Before getting started with the lights themselves I would like to share a few tips. Being a strobe photographer I rarely utilize a tripod but I found this to be nearly essential with the continuous light source. I was typically shooting around 1/100. My 70-200mm lens is simply too heavy to handhold at this shutter speed. Additionally, I found it helpful to tether my camera to my laptop so I could see exactly what was happening on a full-size screen in order to change the position of lights if there was color contamination I was unhappy with or if any overexposure was occurring. Another recommendation would be to arm yourself with three of the RGB300’s in order to get the largest range creatively.

While I thoroughly enjoyed playing with one or two of the lights I found introducing a third light source (in this case one of Savage Universal’s LED Video Light Plus) really expanded what I was able to achieve with the images. With the low cost of the lights I think the extra investment would be worth it in the final images! With that being said it is always recommendable to learn how to use one light source with great confidence before incrementally adding additional lights as opposed to jumping in with multiple sources with a lack of understanding how each light is affecting the image.

For this series of images I photographed two models against a 4′ x 8′ v-flat painted white on the interior panels and black on the exterior panels. For the majority of the images I asked my models to pull their hair back in order to showcase the way the light wraps around the subject.

First Model

One White Light and One Colored Light

I began my exploration with one of the RGB300’s powered to a white light for my key light. I turned the other to a light purple which acted as an accent. The key light hit the subject from above on camera left and bounced on a silver reflector on camera right to add some fill beneath the chin. The second light acted as a rim light on the model and was placed behind her on camera right to create a beautiful and subtle glow. Because of the positioning of the v-flat the purple light additionally altered the white backdrop. A more consistent effect could be achieved by placing the subject a bit further in front of an already colored seamless paper. I typically prefer to short light my subjects (especially in beauty shots) but I found the broad lighting to be quite flattering and unique with this particular lighting setup with a subtle addition of color.

Camera Settings:
4600K
ISO 125
1/60
f/2.8

RGB300 Color Video Light

RGB300 Color Video Light

Two Colored Lights and White Main Light

Before delving straight into the use of full color I decided to try out using both of my RGB300’s as colored accents. For my main light I used Savage’s LED Video Light Plus but would have certainly used a third RGB300 had I had an extra in my studio. Regretfully I did not photograph the setup on my phone so I have drawn a diagram over the final image instead. For this shot I placed my key light a bit overhead on camera left to create the strong shadows on my model’s left cheek. From there I put one video light behind the subject on either side with complementary colors. This resulted in a unique portrait with a subtle introduction of color. Because the key light is a white light, the result is less dramatic than many of the following images. I asked my model to let her hair down for this image in order to keep the light from hitting her face directly.

Settings:
4200K
ISO 200
1/100
f/5.6

RGB300 Color Video Light

RGB300 Color Video Light

Two Colored Lights with Subtle and Bold Variations

Next up I decided to go all out! I put away the main light (for now) and fully embraced the color. I spent some time circling through all 300 color options and settled on a few tones I found to be most flattering on my subject. You will see throughout this tutorial I ended up frequently returning to blues, reds and purples for larger swaths of colors on my models. I used yellows and greens as accent rim lights later on but couldn’t quite bring myself to turn my subject into a full blown martian. I’ll save that for another day! I began this exploration by picking two tones that I felt would seamlessly transition across the model in a profile pose. I lit my subject using broad lighting from camera left with a light purple and placed a dark blue light just behind her. We slicked her hair back to allow for the light to fall off across her cheek. You can see in the image the beautiful transition from light purple to a darker purple and finally blue. The gradation of colors as they meet in the middle results in an elegant and subtly dramatic image.

Settings:
5400K
ISO 400
1/100
f/23.2

RGB300 Color Video Light

RGB300 Color Video Light

Next up I decided to select bolder colors to light my model. In order to make things a bit more interesting and add more depth to my image, I simply opened my v-flat so some of the internal white panel was showing and placed my model right in the center. I placed a red light to camera right and allowed it to wrap around my model to light a bit of her jawline, arm and hair. The blue light I kept slightly farther behind the model on camera left to achieve a rim light. The result of the blue and red combination is a very bold and moody image. After taking a few shots I added a reflector to camera left under the model’s elbow to fill the shadows slightly.

Settings:
4600K
ISO 250
1/125
f/2.8
102mm

RGB300 Color Video Light

RGB300 Color Video Light

Second Model

Two Similar Colored Lights with Subtle Fill

When my second model arrived it was time to step it up even further creatively. Now that I was getting the hang of the proximity of the lights and possible color combinations it was time to hone my skills. For the first image I utilized a similar setup as with my previous model with one colored light on each side. This time, I brought them around the subject closer towards the front. I chose two very similar shades of blue. In order to add a bit more depth to the image I turned on my LED Video Light Plus and placed it behind my camera for an ever so subtle fill. This allowed for a beautiful highlight to play off of my subject’s cheek bone and add a bit of definition to her eyes. Again I was so enthusiastic about the outcome I forgot to grab my cell phone to document a behind the scenes of the setup. Please note my diagram does not accurately depict that the LED Video Light was placed in front of and slightly above the model.

Settings:
3800K
ISO 400
1/100
f/3.5

RGB300 Color Video Light

RGB300 Color Video Light

Two Colored Rim Lights and a Key Light with a Gel

After reintroducing the third light as a fill from the front I decided to push it one step further. In order to mimic what using a third RGB300 would do to the image I added a color gel over my LED Video Light Plus. In this case I selected a piece of purple tissue paper from my stash and affixed it with a few clothes pins. For the blue accent I positioned the light to camera left and directed it to wrap around the side of my model’s face which was turned to a 3/4 view. For a more subtle but brighter accent I placed a yellow RGB300 behind my subject on camera right. The result is a mix of colors that transition from warm to cool across the subject as you look from right to left.

Settings:
3800K
ISO 400
1/100
f/4

RGB300 Color Video Light

Two Colored Lights with Contrasting Colors from Above and Below

For my second to last image I decided to break all of the rules. For someone who is an established control freak and an avid rule follower since preschool, this was not just a test of the lights but a test of myself. Because I was already pushing limits through the use of color I figured why not throw all caution to the wind! Throughout this experimental process I was really beginning to see the face as a series of planes more
than ever. I would never light a subject from below with white light and refer to it specifically as “scary lighting” when my assistant accidentally throws light from below with a reflector on outdoor shoots. That being said I begin to visualize the use of complementary colors not just on either side of the model but also from above and below. I decided to utilize a blue light above my subject and asked her to lift her chin in order to make sure it was parallel to the light. Then I placed an orange light on a boom arm and angled it from below my model just enough to light beneath her cheek bone, the plane beneath her nose and a bit below her brow bone. The result also showed a blue reflection on her bottom lip and an orange reflection on her top lip. The final image was a satisfying and dramatic beauty image that is sure to stand out in any portfolio!

Settings:
3800K
ISO 400
1/100
f/4

RGB300 Color Video Light

RGB300 Color Video Light

Two Colored Rim Lights and a Key Light with a Subtle Gel

For my final image I decided to return to the use of the RGB300’s as subtle accent lights with a key light coming from my Video Light Plus with a subtle gel. Again had I had a third RGB300 in my possession I would have used it instead. This is the same concept I used with Model 2 in Image 2 but I wanted the key light to be less dramatic. Even from the cell phone picture of my setup I unfolded the tissue paper further to decrease the color saturation. The reason for adding a gel to the main light is because I was loving the cool tones of the colored lights with my color temperature set at 3800 Kelvin, but the skin tones were a bit too ashy for my taste. By adding in a light magenta gel I was able to warm the model’s skin tone. My favorite part of this image is the hint of green wrapping around camera left to hit the model’s jawbone. For the background I used the same trick with my v-flat as with my first model by opening it up to see a bit of the white interior.

Settings:
3800K
ISO 400
1/100
f/4

RGB300 Color Video Light

RGB300 Color Video Light

Emily Voss

Emily Voss is a professional portrait photographer that stands apart based on her emphasis on clean lighting and strong use of color. She is the owner and sole photographer of VOSStudios, a state of the art portrait studio in downtown Wausau, WI where it is in its fourth year of business. Emily graduated from Luther College in 2013 with dual degrees in Fine Arts and Spanish. In 2012, she interned and photo assisted Annie Leibovitz in New York City resulting in a love of the city and passion for lighting. While her home base is in the Midwest, she makes trips back to New York to work with actors, dancers and models. Back home in Wisconsin, Emily specializes in high-end senior portraits and corporate headshots but has branched out to include newborns and pet portraits as well. She has been published in a variety of online and print sources such as Photo Vogue, Photographers Forum, Compliance Today, Boutique Design magazine, and the NCAA Champion Magazine. Check out her website here. Learn More
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