With the growing demand for still and motion capture from clients, interest in continuous lighting options grow as do the number of products available to meet this need.  I have wanted to explore the use of continuous lighting in a studio setting for a while, and thanks to K5600 Lighting and Calumet Photographic NYC I recently got the chance to work with a Joker-Bug 800 watt HMI.  The experience is best summed up as “illuminating!”

The concept for the “HMI” shoot was to capture stills and motion clips of a martial art competitor.  I had tentatively entitled the project “Shadow Dance.” I knew that I wanted a very distinct shadow to be an integral part of the visual experience.  Since I wanted to work with only one light source, I needed the light to be broad. I considered several Profoto modifiers with which the Joker is compatible, but ultimately felt that the K5600 Big Eye Fresnel would allow me to achieve my objectives.  The session would be shot with a 5D MarkII with a 24-105mm lens, mounted on a freestanding monopod with a fluid head.  A custom white balance would be set. 

The Joker-Bug 800 and Big Eye did not disappoint.  The light was crisp, clean and with the lamp positioned in the flood position, broad.  The light was placed camera right and effectively lit our “set” area which was an isolated 15 x 15 foot area in the Gallery space on the second floor of Calumet Photographic NYC.  I decided to work in Manual mode and settled on a working aperture of F5.6.  In making the decision to shoot at F5.6, I knew that I would not be shooting stills during this session at ISO 100.  The light meter readings in the model’s “working” area confirmed my belief with a shutter speed range of 1/20-1/30.  Further metering indicated that in order to achieve a minimum shutter speed of 1/100 to ensure sharp stills that I would need to be at ISO 320 or higher.  I set the camera to Auto ISO, and took a few stills.  The stills’ information display confirmed that the camera would be operating at ISO 320 or higher.  The camera was placed on a monopod with a base support and a fluid head for stabilization during video recording.

Shadow Dance: A Still and Motion Capture Session using HMI Lighting .

I shot using one camera and decided to shoot Full resolution RAW stills during the video recording process.  The shutter sounds that you hear during the video clip were actually recorded during the session.  The pause and still display in the video is longer than the actual video recording interruption and was an editing decision.  The actual interuption experienced capturing still while shooting video with the 5D MarkII is approximately one second. Because of the pause action when shooting stills while recording video, one might consider using multiple cameras.  At some point in the not too distant future, simultaneous still and video capture will become available on HDSLRs.  Had I been shooting with multiple cameras, I would have set the camera recording video to a shutter speed of 1/60 (using the 2x FPS guideline), but my priority to capture stills drove my shutter speed considerations.

I walked away from my experience feeling that HMI lighting is a compelling option for the studio photographer interested in capturing stills and video during the same session.  The 800 watt lamp allowed me to light the set, and place the light at a comfortable working distance from the model.  It was actually kind of mindboggling that this six-pound lamp was capable of putting out the equivalent of nearly 4000 watts of tungsten.  Although I elected not to use other light shapers, I knew that I could use a variety of tools from beauty dishes to soft boxes to giant reflectors to alter the character of the light if I had wanted to. 

At $4,500 for the Joker Crossover 800 (includes the Adapter for mounting Profoto light shapers), there is no question that these are expensive lights. If your business demands power and versatility, they may be a smart investment.  If you can’t justify the expense of an outright purchase, rental on an as-needed basis is a viable option.

If you are interested in learning more about the K5600 product line, visit: http://www.k5600.com/crossover.  

For Corporate and Studio sales in the New York Metro area contact Jamie McDougall at:   Jamie.mcdougall@calumetphoto.com.

I have elected not to cover some material in this entry because there are some wonderful resources available on line:

To view videos on the many parts of the Joker-Bug system, click on the K5600 youtube Gallery.

To see a video of the Big Eye setup, click here.

To read S1 Group, Toronto’s “K5600 HMI Light Output Test with Mola, Profoto and K5600 Lighting Modifiers” click here.

Again thanks to K5600 Lighting and Peter Bradshaw and Calumet Photographic New York.

Disclosure: No consideration has been received in connection with this blog entry, nor has any manufacturer and/or retailer offered any consideration

 All images -still and video- in this entry and in this blog are copyrighted and used with permission.

copyright 2010

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