Lights come in so many shapes and sizes today—which ones should you use for your product lighting? Can you set up a cost-effective solution that still makes your product look amazing? Greg explains how choosing the right light source makes all the difference in quality and time spent modifying it. Lights from Kino Flo, LitePanels, Dedolight, and Arri all have hard and soft qualities to them, but so do lights from the hardware store. It's all about choosing the right tool.
- There's something to the saying, "the right tool for the right job." I've found that selecting the right light source makes all the difference when lighting a scene. Look at this shot, being lit with a 1K Tungsten Fresnell, versus this one, lit by a four foot 4-bank Kino. Pretty big difference in the quality of light there. This really underscores the importance of choosing the right tool for the right job at hand. This sounds simple, but selecting the right source becomes 90% of what I do on set.
The majority of the work, if done well, is done by the lights themselves. You can save your production a lot of time and money by selecting the right light source. Here, we have a few different sized lights, and each has a specific quality which can be useful in different applications. By quality of light, I mean how hard or soft the output of the light is when it falls on a subject. Reflectors, diffusers, lenses, all modify the quality of the light source.
There's much more to quality in other terms, but we're going to focus on how the light falls on our products. This, a Dedo DLED, is an example of a hard light, useful for creating specular and focused light, and it will create dramatic shadows. This, a Diva 400, is an example of a soft light, useful for creating natural, soft illumination that's pleasing and can evoke a sense of beauty from your subject. Light from a soft light will wrap around your subject more so than a hard light.
Liken it to a sunny day, compared to when clouds fill the sky, hard verse soft quality. When lighting people, an experienced DP will often use a mixture of hard and soft lights to emphasize or hide physical features and product lighting is similar in that respect. In the upcoming setups, I'll be using a number of lights from Kino Flo, Litepanel, Dedo and ARRI, just some of the more industry standards of our time.
There are many other lighting manufacturers out there, like Cineo, SUMO, Lumia, Creamsource, Aadyn Tech and Mole-Richardson that provide great quality lights and they're very versatile. Some of these become soft sources by the modifiers or diffusion panels that we place in front of them, or they could become slightly harder sources as we move them further away from our subject. The variety of lights I have selected have been hand-picked based on the needs of the products we are lighting, and the final product that we're exporting, which is our video.
Based on the type of camera we're using, and the quality of the final product, we're going to be using lights that produce a true and accurate color in camera. When color accuracy and broadcast quality are not your biggest concerns, other lights you can find at your local hardware store can be just as effective, or you can make your own lights by purchasing a few parts online. Check out Joseph Linaschke's course, DIY Photographer, creating a low cost constant lighting setup for some more ideas.
The hardware store has the same kind of hard and soft quality lights as the big lighting manufacturers do. Just like this four foot shop lamp that's illuminating me right now. I chose certain fluorescent tubes to help with the color but it produces a great soft, broad light source. The light that's giving me an edge accent is actually a PAR30 LED bulb, bought from Home Depot and it's set with one of these clip on shop lamps, pretty inexpensive.
Check out the effect that that light's giving on my shoulder. As you can see, we can light with just about anything. It comes down to understanding your lighting needs, and choosing the right tool for the right job.
- Determining which lights you should have available
- Examining the value of a good grip
- Identifying what should be in your toolkit
- Lighting products on a budget
- Lighting dull and matte objects
- Lighting translucent or glass products
- Making your product shine with movement