No Money For Lights, No Problem!

Awesome Light = Awesome Photos

Amazing light has always been something that attracts people to photos. After all, photography is about manipulating light, and having good light is essential to any good photo! Photographers like @avanauat or @alanrappa stand out because they use light so well.  @alanrappa even shows his behind the scenes lighting setups for his Instagram photos which is awesome!

Here is an example from Alan’s Instagram…

The Free Solution

However, it can be fairly expensive, or just plain overwhelming to buy a bunch of lights when starting from scratch. What lights are best? Do I really need them? Instead of researching it to death, or spending way too much money, there is a simpler answer. The answer is probably right in your hand or your pocket as your read this. It’s your cellphone.  For LEGO minifigures, a cellphone is the perfect size to act as a softbox, and the light from the screen is actually quite soft, and on top of that, you can adjust the brightness on this light source!

If you own a smartphone, you instantly have access to a perfect LEGO sized soft box! For example, this photo was lit 100% by cellphone light. With the cellphone right above the minifigure and the phones brightness all the way up, a soft light illuminates the trooper from above. The cellphone screen will produce a nice soft light, whereas the flashlight on the back of the phone is more of a harsh light. Although, that too can be good when going for something with more contrast or something more dramatic.

Taking it to the Next Level

After you master using a cellphone as a single light source, then take it to the next level. Using it as multiple light sources that come from multiple directions with multiple colors! This can be accomplished by simply using a long exposure and painting the light in various places. A simple flashlight app on a smartphone makes it possible to change the screen to a variety of different colors.

Here is another photo with a “3 light setup” (or really just my cellphone coming in from 3 different directions and a long 25 second exposure).

Here is a video (horrible quality), but just to show the process of making this photo.

As mentioned in the video. The camera shutter was set to 25 seconds. When the real picture was taken all the lights in the room were off so it was completely dark. During the 25 second shutter simply paint light wherever you desire and any color you want. This technique results in a photo that looks like it was lit by a fancy multi-light setup and a variety of colored gels.

Having Fun with the Edit

The fun thing about lighting with mutliple colors is that in editing it’s easy to adjust the hue of any color to get a completely different outcome. For example, here is an alternate edit of the photo with the hue of the main two colors adjusted.

The Challenge

So, now that you know you don’t need expensive photo lights to get some cool effects, the challenge is out to all off you to post your cellphone light creations in the comments!

Kenton (kentonanderson.com)

6 Comments

  1. Great post! I also use my phone as the light source but I didn’t know there are so nice apps for lighting! I will definitely use them, since I also don’t have pro lights for my photography. Thank You Kenton for this post.

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