We've most likely all been there. So amped + ready to shoot some pretty details in film but when we walked into the Bride's getting ready suite: bam! It's darker than...well...hell. You take a meter reading and your worst nightmare is expected: it's slightly too dark to shoot your favorite film stock in this cave of a room. You scramble, opening every blind, scooting the bed closer to the window and praying for more direct sun, utilizing every once of natural lighting you can. You practically beg your assistant to follow you around holding up the white bed sheet and hope you can leverage just enough bright light. Oh, so I'm the only one?
Thankfully with the help of an inexpensive and totally portable piece of equipment you can add an ummph of 'daylight' without all the hassle or heartache. I sound like an infomercial. A small LED light (like this one I own from NEEWER) is a badass little contraption that, if held correctly, can take images from shadowy to fab! And for only $25, you can't go wrong. It takes AA batteries, which I usually always have along with my gear, and can be held by an assistant OR fits snugly onto your flash's hot shoe (which makes it great for using on top of your film camera during first dances!).
I always use every bit of natural daylight that I can, working with everything white and reflective in a room but sometimes you just need more clean light, especially when shooting film. During Raquel + Tony's event the bedroom had one window with the bed somewhat far from the light source and the craziest colored walls (com'mon hotels! Help a sistah OUT!). Below are some examples + how we made it work.
All shot on a Contax 645 with Fuji 400h film using natural light and the NEEWER LED.
As you can see, the bedroom walls were...I don't know what color that is, and the headboard was red. Luckily the bedding was all white, which totally jives with my style and helps keep color balanced correctly, so the trick was leveraging the little bit of window light coming in from the left and adding a hint more sparkle of clear light from my LED. So you know what was up:
With the window behind me, my super helpful assistant Chelsea got an arm workout as she held the LED at an angle over the bed (and rather high, so the light dispersed more evenly). I took the photo below at a f/2.8 and most likely 1/60th, as slow of a shutter speed as I could (to help overexpose to get rid of any shadows) but at an aperture that would still capture the details in front of me. Raquel's wedding dress and shoes had incredible beading detail, and the added light helped showcase all the shimmer.
For Raquel's stunner of a ring, Chelsea held the LED light over my shoulder and to the right (looking at the direction of the shadow, I most likely should have gotten her to hold it to the left a weeeee bit more to help minimize it, however I don't mind too much). The light's power was turned up more so that I had more light--allowing me to shoot at a more narrow aperture (f/5.6) paired with a hoya close-up filter -- and capture the details of her diamond.
For their wedding ring close-up, I kept the invitation and rings on the white bedding (as a natural reflector) and had Chelsea get in somewhat close with the LED light powered up. Again, in order to get sharp detail in the diamond I used a close-up filter at an aperture of f/5.6. The added light allowed me to shoot at a narrower aperture to secure detail, added shine to the faucets in her ring and left room for a slower shutter speed--which helps to eliminate unwanted shadows.
To see the NEEWER LED light in action, check out the quickie video on my instagram.
Any questions or lights you love? Add them in the comments below. xo