I have been using the Litepanels Astra EP 1×1 Traveler Kit for the last few months now and I absolutely love them. I’ve used them on so many shoots — almost all of them — over the last few months since late August and have found them invaluable as part of my main lighting package for smaller shoots and as great supplementary units for my larger shoots. (On the larger shoots, we used pretty powerful lights and also had a full array of other units that there wasn’t much of a need for these.) I’ve found their strength, with my lighting style, is in backlighting and as background lights for interview setups, which I use them for mostly. I still haven’t been able to use them as suitable key lights because I like to have broader light sources than a 1×1 panel. Even if I try using them as a key light, I would fire them through diffusion panels but then a single panel didn’t have enough fire power to give me the light levels I needed so I kept them in their secondary roles as backlight and background units.
What do you do when your only key light is non-functional and you only have a few minutes to set up? You think fast. I had a shoot a few months ago where we were interviewing the president of fairly large bank conglomerate. He was visiting the area and had very limited time to give us on camera. We had to wait around for a while to figure out if he would even agree to doing the interview that day, and we also had to wait to see where we would be able to shoot his interview. He had some doubts about doing the interview that day. For us, it was imperative that the interview happen. After convincing him that today would be a fine day for the interview, and then deciding on a spot do it, we started to set up. We had two 1×1 LED panels and a SkyLux + RapidBox soft light. Pulling out the equipment, I noticed the ballast for the SkyLux unit was not in the case where it should have been. *Assume nothing. Trust no one.*
This may not be the most ideal lighting kit for the airborne shooter, but the Litepanels Sola 4 Traveler Kit™ definitely packs a healthy punch for its size, weight and power consumption.
Last week I was hired to shoot some testimonials for an infomercial. We shot 13 people at a couple of beautiful homes over two days. We shot on the Red Scarlet with Zeiss high-speed primes (f/1.4). I had plenty of light in the lighting package but ended up using hardly anything for these setups. I’m still baffled by what we got and how we got it. The shots were gorgeous and high key; but because of the native 800ISO of the Scarlet, the high speed of the glass, the desire to have soft backgrounds, and the lack of ND filters, I needed to use so little light that it was almost disturbing.
I’m currently in Philadelphia working on a documentary project where Rembrandt’s work holds an important role in the storyline. We thought it would be a good idea to move a little away from how we’ve been normally shooting talking-head interviews and try to go for a more… Rembrandt feel. Now, “Rembrandt lighting” is a pretty standard and classic lighting approach when it comes to lighting people but I tend to always light from the opposite side of the face that the camera is favoring. As I studied Rembrandt’s portraits more closely, I noticed that he almost always lights his subjects from the same side as the viewer (er… camera?). So it was a bit of a change for me, but that’s what is called for. I also tend to use a varying amount of back light or edge light on my interviews, but again, Rembrandt almost always has a lack of this. His backgrounds are also very often a nondescript texture rather than a specific location or domestic backdrop. His paintings tend to lean towards the warm side of the palette as well.