How to Light a Portrait with a Single LED

How to Light a Portrait with a Single LED

Previously we explored the idea of creating beautiful portraits with a single LED. In this post, Christina N Dickson will give 2 short tutorials on the LED portrait.

The LED for On-Location:

location.jpgThere will be times in your on location portraiture sessions when the available light is just too dim or weak to create an even portrait. Getting rid of shadows and adding catch-lights in this scenario is impossible unless you bring in another light source. An LED is a quick and non-imposing way of adding just enough light to create an artistic flair to your portrait.

1. Position your subject near the primary light source. In this case, window light is my main light and illuminates my subject. I turn my subject into the light until her skin is appears soft and luminous.

2. Add the LED. Rather than the LED acting as my main light, I use it to soften the transfer edges of the highlights and shadows along my subjects face. I am able to maintain shape and depth along her face without having harsh and distracting shadows.

3. Pull the LED away from your subject: If the LED is too close to your subject, the lighting will become flat – especially if we are using the LED as a fill light. Move the LED away from your subject as much as possible while still filling in and softening the shadows just a bit.

The LED for Studio:

studio.jpgIf you don’t own strobes or speed lights, you may not be as limited with off camera lighting as you think. LED’s can help you create extremely artistic portraits without a lot of financial investment. Here’s a look at using the LED for a studio like portrait.

1. Place your subject away from your backdrop. If the area behind your subject is dark, you’ll create a nice, black backdrop – no matter where you are. For this portrait. my subject is 5 feet in front of a dark hallway wall.

2. Get rid of all other light. To create a contrasty portrait, eliminate other light sources. Though you are using a single LED, the light will be more even and controlled without other competing light sources.

3. Position your LED. For a close up portrait with no other light sources, you will want to position the LED, 1 foot above and 2 feet away from your subject. This distance will enable you to cast light evenly along the face, and you won’t have to worry about distracting shadows falling under the eyes or the edge of the nose.

An LED can be purchased at Wal Mart or Amazon for $10 to $20 and is a pretty simple solution to acquiring an additional, easy to use light source for any off camera need.

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Christina N Dickson is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography www.BrideInspired.com and leadership with www.RevMediaBlog.com.

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