Help me with creative lighting on the road

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    • #37735

      Okay, here’s one for the creative lighting experts. Since I am asking, obviously – and unfortunately – I am not one of those.

      I will be doing some traveling and will be shooting interviews in offices in lots of different places. Will be flying and taking buses in between. So I will be VERY limited in what kinds of lamps and lights I can bring along, but I really want to be able to bring along some very basic equipment to lights up the shots.

      I have a couple of these on camera lights: and as they are small and very lightweight I was thinking if there is any way I could use them to create some basic light for shooting. I know I would need to get really creative, or have someone get crdative for me? Think there is any way I could reflect them and use them to create some basic key/fill light?

      Any other advice on cheap, lightweight, portable and easy to set up lighting would be greatly appreciated, as I am really running dry on searching around.


    • #167203


      This topic has been discussed at length so check out my post “Ghetto Lighting” and watch the video for tips.

    • #167204

      Composite, thanks. I already did watch that though, and with all due respect, it does not cover my needs. Traveling with a suitcase and a bag with my old XM2 i really don’t have room for a third of the equipment used in that video.

      Very interesting video though. Big fan of cheap, creative production.

      Looking for hints and tips on what can be packed in a suitcase along with clothes and shoes that could work as a rudimentary lighting setup…

    • #167205

      clip on lamps, 23 – 100 watt daylight balanced compact florescent bulbs paper chinese lanterns or white nylon collapsable laundry hampers.

    • #167206


      The purpose of that post is to illustrate creative lighting solutions on the cheap. The kind of small lights you’re talking about at the power output levels I’m reading you desire generally fall into pro pricing which isn’t cheap.

      What you’re going to have to use will not give your client’s too much confidence when they see but it’ll be up to you to ‘sell the setup’. A ‘ghetto solution’ to your problem could be the compact fluorescent bulbs D0n mentioned, but you’ll still need fixtures and they most likely won’t fit in your suitcase with your clothes and all. Chinese lanterns are also a good option, but the wire fixture that supports the lantern is a PIA to hold your bulb as it was designed for traditional bulbs and not coiled fluorescents.

      The best and most ‘ghetto’ setup would be to use fluorescent lanterns like the one’s Coleman makes for camping and or hand held tap lights like the ones they advertised on TV. I suggest you make a run to Wal-Mart or the like and have a look through their light bulb section and their camping selection. You’ll find all kinds of lights that are battery or AC powered that are small enough to fit your need.

      Be advised though, read the labels carefully as to ascertain whether they are ‘soft white’, ‘bright white’ or ‘daylight’. Fluorescents come in those 3 varieties and range in color temp from 2700K to 6500K. If you get consumer based LED lights they’re almost always at or near daylight color temp unless they do red. They might work as a substitute for daylight, but I’d do some serious testing with them first before using them on a job.

    • #167207

      Thanks, guys, those are some very good tips. Will try and see if I can find any lanterns that would fit. I don’t care too much about it looking super professional, as long as it does the job.

      How about those two on cam lights I’ve already got? Any thoughts on making use of these to actually light up a scene a bit? Set up behind a thin piece of paper maybe? Or reflecting on the roof with an umbrella? They give out a pretty porweful (although narrow) ligthbeam and are ridiculously light weight, so would love it if I could make use of them:

      Link again:

    • #167208


      If you have some simple handyman skills, and taking Composites pointing to Ghetto lighting what about something made with the following.

      China lanterns or cheap nylon umbrellas modified like this…

      This with the relector removed…


      and some of cheap tripods. These would be small, compact, and fit inside a suitcase.

      As far as using your own lights, have you tried setting them up in a couple of rooms of your house and just practice shooting around them?

    • #167209

      COL, thanks for those suggestions. I am in Europe, so not near those products, but I get the drift, and some very interesting ideas in there!

      Yes, have tried setting up and testing, but am running out of ideas on how (with something basic, lightweight and simple) to spread out that light and get a better fill from it.

      But thanks again.

    • #167210
      Grinner Hester

      I leave the tripod and the light kit at home when travelling like this. I steady the camera on my shoulder for long sit down interviews, utilize the heck out of great natural lighting, and have a dimmabe LED unit I wear on my head, should I need extra lighting. I can adjust the color temp with it and, being on my head, not the camera, it’s not washing them out with direct lighting and I can simply look a little away should I get undesired squinting on the fly.

      This allows me to remain hand-held and veeery mobile. I don’t even clip em with a wireless lav unless I absolutely have to. I keep that in my pocket, some axtra tape on me and one extra battery. That’s it.

    • #167211

      A head rig for a dimmable LED? Grinner you gotta’ post a picture of that! I had looked into using off the shelf LED head lamps, but they white balance really weird. Are you using a Lite Panel as your headlamp?


      As for you ‘running out of ideas’, my suggestion stands at you taking a trip down to the ‘Old World’ equivalent of Wal-Mart or your local department store and have a look through their home lighting department for some small portable creative solutions. Here’s one in particular:

      With some diffusion material these could be respectable fill lights. There are differing kinds, some fluorescent others bulb and LED but they’re all battery powered. You’ll have to dig around to find what best suits your need.

    • #167212
      Grinner Hester

      cruise over to ACE hardware. You’ll be surprised what you can find for less than 20 bucks. YEs, I look like a coal miner but I can’t tell ya how much it works. Even has a red LED in it that totally fixes the “dang this LED lighting makes everything blue” vibe.

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