Glamour Photography with LEDs

This post and last Tuesdays are about using Rotolight’s RL-48 LED lights for portraits in preparation for a  workshop on LED lighting using these versatile and inexpensive lights. Check the Workshop section for schedule and details.

The use of small LEDs light sources like the Rotolights are not without a few adjustments to your normal way of shooting. As the state of the LED art evolves, I’m sure this process will change but right now high ISO settings are the name of the game. Photographers with the newest SLRs featuring noiseless high ISO capabilities should be able to jump in with both feet but others, like me, with slightly older gear will need to find your SLR’s high ISO/minimum noise sweet spot.


With LED, there’s no waiting time for a flash to recycle; when photographing Stevie, I felt liberated by the easy and quick method of shooting. I placed both Rotolight on lightstand, so I could move both lights around and found that instead of using the (provided) neutral density gels to adjust the light’s output, it was easier to move it closer or father from the subject, so set up takes you literally seconds.

Rotolight RL48

1/50 sec at f/1.8 and ISO 640

When photographing  Stevie wearing black I initially tried a blue gel but quickly realized that as a blonde, a Sunlight Yellow gel was the perfect compliment to her hair.  I placed one RL48-B at camera right (see lighting set-up) with a Sunlight Yellow filter. The other RL48-B was at camera left with no filter. Shot with a Canon EOS 50D and EF 85mm f/1.8 lens in Aperture Priority mode. Tweaked using Nik Software’s Vignette Blur filter.

Much as speedlights revolutionized the way photographers create portraits, I believe small LED light sources like these from Rotolight will be a game changer because you can buy two light sources in one fanny pack-sized kit ($289) for less than the cost of one high-tech speedlight. Because they’re continuous light sources, you can see the final results and as a bonus your subject’s is more relaxed—without flashes going off. Working with the Rotolight Interview Lighting Kit is the most fun I’ve had with any kind of lighting system.

Author: Joe Farace

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