LED Flashlight photography: How to make an Ice Light
LED technology is currently developing at a rapid rate and in this article we look at how you can utilize the latest LED technology to light your images until the photographic lighting industry catches up. See how for under £20 you can make a portable, rechargeable light that can produce results like this in a totally dark room:
LED’s are light emitting diodes and they are very efficient at converting power into light. Sure, they’ve been around for a while and are now utilized in a range of Photographic lights and torches.
However, manufacturer CREE are currently leading the LED lighting revolution and their distinctive yellow XM-L LED is now widely available in a range of budget flashlights on Amazon and they’re brightness is game changing!
I recently purchased a Ultrafire torch from Amazon with two rechargeable batteries and charger for about £17.
Sure, one of the batteries is poor and it doesn’t pump out the claimed 900 lumen, but this thing is brutally bright and has real potential.
Let’s be clear…from a photography perspective, it’s too bright and harsh to shine directly at anything or anybody. So, you need to use a lighting modifier to defuse it or use it in conjunction with a reflector.
If you’re a regular Lightism subscriber, you’ll recall I recently made a light from plumbers pipe and glowsticks for another article. Well, if you constructed one yourself what you’ve already made is an exact fit for the LED Flashlight, so you need to do, well, nothing!
For new readers: you’ll need:
1 x Ultrafire flashlight or torch (as we call them in England.)
1 x 32” length of 1.5” white plumbing pipe: £2
1 x white pluming pipe end cap: £1
1 x tie wraps (ideally clear): £1
A saw, a drill, tinfoil, small sheet of sand paper (to smooth any rough edges) and a pair of scissors.Tip: Test the pipe with the torch before you buy it as some varieties are rather pink once lit! Step 1:
Measure 11” from either end of the 32” length of pipe and cut halfway through the pipe with a saw.
Now cut the pipe down its width from the end nearest your cut, effectively removing a slice of pipe.
Pop the flashlight snugly into the new opening. You can either simply hold it in place to use it now or fix it into place with the tie wraps.
The end cap is the same diameter as the pipe, so if you cut four small slices out if cap be forced into the pipe. (see picture below)
Before fitting it to the pipe, screw up a ball of tinfoil and place it in the end far of pipe to act as a reflector (I tried various things including mirrors) and force on end cap.
You can also fit a length of thick black tape to the rear of the pipe to reflect the light forward.
That’s it, now you’ve made a £20 version of Westcott’s £500 Ice Light!… Either that or some may say a light saber.
Use it close to the subject and experiment with the angles; I like it above the model.
The sweet spot as usual is on the very edge of the light, so small adjustments make all the difference. Here’s the wider shot of the picture above in which you can see the model is holding the light and acting as a voice controlled lighting stand.
The second option is to use it in conjunction with a silver or white reflector. This requires much more experimentation with distances and angles to get anything meaningful. To save you the effort, I will show you a couple of fool proof setups in my forth coming 30 second portraits series, so subscribe below or like Lightism on Facebook to keep up to date.Click here for opportunities to get involved with Lightism
Here’s a quick summery of answers to various comments made here and on various blogs where this has kindly been re-posted.
The light really is quite bright. The photo of the girl was shot in total darkness except this light to give you a feel for the actually quality of the light; normally it would be used as a fill with some ambient light. The light is some 10” away from her face (looks much closer in the photo) & its position was a creative choice.
I forgot to mention that I stuck a strip of tinfoil under the black gaffer tape on the rear to help reflect light. I used plumber’s pipe from UK chain Wickes, some pipes from B&Q had a nasty pink glow.
Many people commented on the color temperature issue and in previous articles where I’ve used LED lights I have recommended downloading a free color temperature app and measuring it. However, the Cree LED is a new generation of LED which doesn’t suffer from the same color issues, so try one because whatever you thought you knew about LED may well have changed!
A HUGE thanks to the 113,621 of you who read this article in the first week!!