Recently I had the opportunity to try out the new LED Video Light Plus from Savage Universal. I received 2 of the video lights along with a barn door kit in the mail and couldn’t wait to start shooting. My photography has always been centered around light and I feel my knowledge and ability to control and shape light is what differentiates my work from other photographers. That being said I have only ever utilized strobes so the chance to try out a continuous light source was both exciting and nerve wracking! I have a very full grasp on what strobes can and cannot achieve but without a background in continuous light I was ready see and experience light in an entirely new way!
Upon unpacking the boxes I received from Savage Universal, I was pleased to see how lightweight and compact everything was. Additionally, I love the fact that the light can be plugged in or run by a very small battery that slides onto the side. I take my strobes with me on location and outdoors on nearly every shoot and therefore am forever lugging around heavy power packs and generators. The fact that the LED Video Lights are so compact and transportable made me fall in love at first sight! I immediately plugged the two lights in, unsure of what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by the max output! My fear with continuous light systems has always been that they would never be bright enough to eliminate the need to have to push the ISO outside of my comfort zone. I immediately discovered they had a much wider output range than I had originally anticipated. The lights have a convenient dial on the light itself and also come with remote controls to adjust the power allowing you to make changes without leaving your shooting post.
For those of you that have utilized cucoloris you know how difficult it is to find precision with them while using strobes. You do not know exactly where the shadows will fall until you fire the strobes and making the necessary subtle moves to frame your subject can be painstaking and tedious. In order to create a variety of types of shadows I decided to try my hand at making my very own cucoloris’. I purchased several 20”x30” boards of black foam core from the local art store and cut a variety of patterns to create negative space. I then utilized the pieces I had cut out of the foam core to assemble an additional piece to cast shadow on my subject. The trick to utilizing cucoloris’ successfully is to determine the distance from the light source and the subject. If you are looking for soft, dappled light you will want to position your shadow-casting object close to the light source and if you are looking for hard, defined shadows, you must move your cucoloris very close to the subject. The continuous light source makes it easy to experiment and see how the light is being shaped or manipulated which certainly lessens the frustration of trying to control errant shadows or highlights that can occur with strobes.
For the majority of the shoot I utilized one of the lights with the barn door on full power. This allowed for a very strong contrast in the shadows. I controlled the light by moving it toward or away from the model as opposed to dialing it up and down. The second light I used either as a back light on the opposite side of the main light to separate the model from the background or as a fill light at a very low power. Additionally I used a reflector and white foam core to bounce light and fill the shadows. I used black foam core for the opposite purpose of deepening shadows. With this wide array of tools I was able to create a diverse range of effects throughout the series of images!