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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Using Constant Lighting for Stills and Video

Lighting Equipment



Why Continuous Lights?
Continuous lights can often be dismissed as outdated equipment in the photographic world, but only to those who are unfamiliar with what they're capable of, particularly with today's modern DSLR's, which can shoot both stills and video and which can shoot at exceedingly high ISO settings without compromise to the image.


But one of the best things about continuous lights is that they are easy to master. The effects of this light source can be seen "real time", which makes it fundamentally easier and faster to adjust if need be. It makes it easier for those who are just learning how to create and control light and does not require reading an entire how-to book on flash photography. Now that HD video is possibe in DSLR's, shooting high quality video is easier now than ever before.

Personally, I'd rather not carry two lighting setups for on location shoots if I'm planning on shooting stills and video. It's just not feasible. Lugging around with a trunk full of equipment? It's just not happening!

Enter the Photoflex Starlite QL's. They're lightweight, they're indestructible and they're compact! My video/stills kit includes three Photoflex Starlite QLs. I can shoot both still photos and video with them. But the best part is, because they are constant, there is minimal adjustment out of camera, which saves me a LOT of editing time.

Regardless of whether I'm shooting a fashion shoot or a fashion video, I have two main lighting setups that I rely on: a two and a three light setup. Keep in mind that for this shoot, the photos and videos were converted to black and white so as to easily demonstrate these techniques. Aside from that, the images of my model, Stefaniya, were not edited in any way.

The Two Light Setup
My two light setup for this shoot was pretty simple. I had two open bulbs behind Stefaniya to create separation from the background. If I'm leaving the bulbs open, which I generally do to create flare and/or a backlit feel, I'll keep the lights from spilling onto the background by placing a flag on either side. This keeps the background dark, but creates great highlights along your subject, as it did here. [Figures 1 and 2]

Figure 1

Figure 2

If you're looking to create a mysterious or sexy mood for your portrait or video, I highly recommend this two light setup. It adds drama by creating shadows on the face but it also illuminates the cheek bones, jawline and outline of the body. Here, you can see a still clip from the video that shows what the two light setup looked like on Stefaniya. [Figure 3]

Figure 3

The lights were positioned at the same height of Stefaniya and angled approximately 45 degrees back.

The Three Light Setup
By simply adding a key light, you can radically affect the mood of a photo or video. In this setup, adding a Medium SilverDome just above my model helped me carve out Stefaniya's cheek bones and jawline through shadow placement. The mood was changed just by introducing one more light. Small movements by Stefaniya, even the slightest tilt of her head, revealed drastic differences in her features. [Figures 4, 5 and 6]

Figure 4


Figure 5

Figure 6

The main light was set 45 degrees to the left, two feet above Stefaniya, and angled approximately 45 degrees down.

Keep in mind that these two setups have many variations. You can adjust the height of the lights, the distance to sunbelt and the angles. Practice and experimentation are the keys to mastering the two lighting techniques!

Written and shot by Jeff Rojas.
To see more of Jeff's work, check out his Pro Showcase page.


Lighting Equipment


On December 12, 2012 at 08:40 PM, pwp said:

Interesting article but whoa…the model must be ready to kill Jeff Rojas for running those appalling images of her. The chosen images depict her as terrified, terrifying and inhuman . I’m sure she’s not like this but really, running such sickening images of a nice girl is bad for her and bad for you business. Change the images quick-smart before you put too many people off completely.

On December 15, 2012 at 09:45 AM, Steve Silverman said:

What ISO and Aperture were used for this session?

On December 18, 2012 at 03:25 PM, Jeff Rojas said:

Hey Paul (PWP),

Thanks for taking the time to watch the video and respond!  I appreciate your input! The model herself absolutely LOVED the video. smile I hope you have a great day!


Great question!  My camera settings are as follows:


Shutter Speed: 50
f Stop: Variable depending on focal point
ISO: 160, 320, 640, 1250
Frame Rate: 24FPS

This is the best in camera settings to achieve the optimum motion.

Camera Profile: I personally have been using the Technicolor Cinestyle Camera Profile setting which provides a flat photo / video that you can gradate in post production for cinematic feel - it allows for the best dynamic range of any camera setting available.

Hope that helps!

Jeff Rojas

On December 21, 2012 at 04:21 AM, Hamid said:

what the best iso for camera in the studio?

On January 18, 2013 at 01:32 PM, parisa said:


On February 26, 2013 at 01:01 PM, antonio said:

Good article. I actually really like the contrasty black and white look discussed in this article.

What the author failed to mention is that this lighting setup will only look good on certain types of models. She needs to have good skin and bone structure. If she has wrinkles or even a tiny bit of acne, this hard lighting will make any imperfections pop out and the model will be very unhappy.

This lighting setup will also work good on athletic male models.

On June 25, 2014 at 06:23 AM, Greg said:

What do u think about softbox lights ? I have a shoot in a barber shop it has weird lighting I just bought to softlight boxes I also have a speed flash . I’m new to indoor shooting . Thanks for the help

On June 26, 2014 at 09:11 AM, Jeff Rojas said:

Hey GREG, Softboxes are great lights for soft even tones. Different modifiers are going to change the type of light you’ll be illuminating a subject with. If you shoot me an email over with more information about what you’re shooting to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), I may be of more help.

Jeff Rojas

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On June 03, 2016 at 04:14 AM, Amcor Design said:

Great content.

On June 03, 2016 at 04:17 AM, Mac said:

Really, My knowledge is increase after reading blog.
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