Studio Portrait Lighting with Smith Victor CooLED lights & Smith Victor 19″ Bi-Color LED Ring Light


In this episode – Part 4 of my LED light series
I’m gonna show you some lights from Smith Victor that include a series of three LED
studio lights that look more like studio strobes and you can attach modifiers like you do with
a strobe. I’ll also add a bi-color ring light into the
mix and show you that ring lights are not just for circle catchlights and YouTube videos. Stay tuned! Hey gang! My name is Joe Edelman and my mission is to
help photographers like YOU to develop a solid understanding of the HOWS & WHYS behind great
photography so that you can achieve your goals as a photographer. I have to tell you I am having a lot of fun
with this LED lighting series and it is really refreshing to get back to basics and work
with continuous lighting in the studio. So let’s dive in… Smith Victor has been around for my entire
career and was founded by photographer James H. Smith in the late 1800’s. The company has been at the forefront of lighting,
beginning with flash powder and the powder cabinets that created even light, and then
flash bulbs in the 1920’s and then the famous Photoflood incandescent bulbs and later quartz
lights, strobes and now LED studio lights. I learned lighting as a teenager using Smith
Victor Adapta-Light reflectors and Photoflood bulbs and what thrills me with these new Smith
Victor LED lights is that they are designed to be basic, reliable, durable lights, with
no gimmicky bells and whistles. They provide high quality light – they are
easy to use and extremely reliable. First up is the CooLED Series of LED studio
lights. There are three models – the CooLED 20, 50
and 100. All three of these units are single chip LED’s
with a color temperature of 5,200k and they are dimmable through 5 steps. With all metal construction, these units are
built to last. They are fan cooled but REALLY quiet. Just 32db of noise which is not audible over
3 feet away so they can easily be used for video production. Each has a standard 5/8” stand receptacle
and an umbrella mount. Let’s start with the CooLED100. This unit is built to look like a studio strobe
and act like a studio strobe. It weighs just 6.1lbs and has a Bowens mount
for adding speedrings, soft boxes, snoots and pretty much any modifier that fits a Bowens
mount. The unit has a 100watt LED bulb that puts
out about 10,000 Lumens of light which is equivalent to a 1,000 watt incandescent bulb. This bulb is rated for 50,000 hours of use. This is an AC only unit that can be powered
with an external battery pack like the Photogenic ION Inverter or a Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini. The CooLED100 ships with an 8” 90-degree
beam angle reflector, an ac adapter and the removable frosted dome and diffuser sock. Next up – the CooLED50. Also built like a studio strobe with an all
metal casing, and weighing just __ lbs, the CoolLED50 also has a Bowens mount and ships
with two barn doors included in the package. This unit has a 50watt, 5,000 lumens LED bulb
which is equivalent to a 500 watt incandescent bulb. This is an AC unit that does have an optional
DC power pack available from Smith Victor or you could also power these with an external
battery pack like the Photogenic ION Inverter or a Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini. Like the CooLED100, the CooLED50 also ships
with an 8” reflector, ac adapter and the removable frosted dome and diffuser sock. Last in the CooLED series is the CooLED20. Weighing in at just 3.4 lbs. with the included
barndoors. This baby unit has a 200watt, 2,000 lumens
LED bulb that puts out the equivalent of a 200 watt incandescent bulb. The CooLED20 ships with a tungsten filter,
diffusion filter, filter pouch, AC adapter and handle. And the fourth light I am using in this video
is the newest addition to Smith Victor’s LED lineup – it’s their 19” Bi-Color Ring Light This is not a basic ringlight. With a CRI of 95 and 6000 lumens of light,
this ring light has fully dimmable output and adjustable color temperature from 3000k
up to 5500k. The housing is a very strong ABS plastic and
aluminum mix. Also rated for 50,000 hours of bulb use, this
ring light ships with a flexible stand mount that has a rubber grip so that it can be used
handheld, a ball head adapter for mounting small cameras or microphones, the ac power
cord, padded carrying case and a wired remote control that allows you to control both the
power and color temperature of the light. The circular ring lights have been a favorite
with YouTube beauty bloggers for quite some time now and for still shooters they create
an interesting circular catchlight. This is one of those things that photographers
ether love or hate. Me – I think they’re cool – but somewhat over
done at this point – so my goal is to use the ring light a bit differently. First, here’s a simple headshot that I did
with the 19” bi-color ring light as my main light and the CooLED20 behind Monae and aimed
up at the #24 Savage Orange paper backdrop. You can see the ring light provides a beautiful
even light with quick fall off. Then by adding some blue tulle material and
some flowers that Monae crafted into a headpiece – we have a simple beauty shot. In both of these examples, Monae is about
4 feet from the background. If I move her closer to the background and
remove the background light – I can get a darker orange background and a little more
drama to the overall feel of the image. You can see in this behind the scenes shot
that I have the light high in front of Monae and I am shooting through the ring light. Moving on to the CooLEDs. I started with just the CooLED100 in a Photoflex
Medium softbox for this first set-up. Remember the CooLED100 and 50 both have Bowens
mounts, so you can attach modifiers – which is an awesome feature. For this first portrait, Monae is directly
in front of a Savage Black seamless backdrop and the light is placed just above my camera
lens. Because I have her seated so close to the
backdrop, it will appear as a very dark gray instead of black. This was an intentional choice. Shooting tethered with my TetherTools TetherBLOCK
and cables, I have my laptop set-up in the Digital ala Cart case so that I can monitor
the shots while I shoot. This is just the one light above the camera
and slightly to the right so that I would still have soft shadows and some depth to
the face. I did not use any reflectors. I also thought that this set-up would make
an interesting black and white image as well, so while I was shooting – I did convert a
few frames to black and white with the Capture One Pro software to see if any lighting tweaks
were needed for the black and white and I was happy with it – no changes necessary. Next up I moved Monae away from the background
and added the CooLED50 as a background light. This background light turns the black background
to a medium gray with a gradient to dark gray as the light falls off. Still with the CooLED100 in the medium softbox
that is now on camera right – I switched to a lower camera angle and had Monae look towards
the light for a more dramatic feel. I’ve carefully placed my main light so that
I don’t have harsh shadows from her nose – but so that I do get sharp fall-off on the
camera left side of her face. Then by simply adding a yellow gel to the
CooLED50 in the background I can change the feel of the shot to this. Also notice that to help give the shot a bit
of a different look – I have closed the yellow jacket to hide the cleavage and rust colored
top that is underneath. Next up I am going to add the CooLED20 as
a rim light on camera left. The rim is placed a little high and behind
her to add some additional depth to the shadow area on the camera left side of Monae’s face. You can see that it also adds a hint of highlights
to her hair on the shadow side as well. If I move the yellow gel to my rim light and
then place a blue gel over the CooLED50 in the background, I arrive at this look which
is by far my favorite. Just a quick review… Two lights, Two lights with the yellow gel
on the background, Three lights and then three lights with a yellow gel on the rim and a
blue gel on the background. I wanted to do a shot the included all four
of the Smith Victor lights, so my next challenge was to see how I could integrate the ring
light. Remember that a ring light – is still a light. In this case a light with a 19” diameter
so there is no rule that says you have to shoot through it and that you have to have
those circle catchlights. You can use it as a background light like
you see here or even use it as a main light, a rim light or a hair light. Buying a ring light just to get the circle
is a lot of money to spend for an effect that you won’t use that often. The way you balance the GEARtographer side
of your personality with the financially responsible side… remember that these lights have a
lot of different uses. Heck – they even look cool if you include
them in the shot. I’ll show you what I mean in a minute. Still with the same cool hair style, Monae
changed to a purple top and added some sparkly rhinestones and a lace choker. I knew that I wanted to be a bit more dramatic
with this look and also that I wanted to involve the ring light in some way. I started with the CooLED100 still in the
Photoflex Medium softbox and placed on camera right almost far enough away from the camera
to create a Rembrandt shadow – but not quite, because I’m not really a fan of that triangular
shadow that you get with Rembrandt lighting – so I usually stop just a bit short. The CooLED50 is aimed at the background with
a blue gel and this is the result. Now it’s time to experiment with the ring
light. I know you thought that I meant to add it
as a light source. Well kind of. First I placed it behind Monae and dialed
the power all the way down to eliminate any flare from the light. The rest of the set-up is the same as the
previous portrait. Next I decide to go with a horizontal shot
and using the flexible stand mount I was able to lower it over Monae’s head for this finished
result. Now look closely you will see that her purple
top to does have some wrinkles and they are not the same on each side. For my taste – this shot needed some solid
symmetry so I did a little Photoshop magic and removed the wrinkles on her top and then
flipped one side over to mirror the other – giving me a very clean and symmetrical look. I promise to do a video in the future about
flipping parts of your beauty images to get this kind of feel. I mentioned that the 19” Bi-Color Ring light
which is a brand new light from Smith Victor has a CRI of 95. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention
the CRI of the CoolLED series. That’s because I wanted you to see the images
first and I wanted to remind you that unless you are shooting something that requires exact
color – CRI is NOT something that you should stress over or pay more for. The CooLED series of lights have a CRI in
the mid 80’s which is more than adequate for photographing people. Next up in the LED lighting series – The wrap-up. I have shown you 6 cool and interesting LED
lights and I have shown you just how versatile and easy they are to work with. I want to take a few minutes and do a quick
review of them and also mention a few of the other styles of LED lights that I didn’t
discuss in this series – just to give you a sense of where they all fit into the mix. Until then, I hope you found this useful. Please hit that thumbs up and subscribe so
that you don’t miss any videos and until next time go pick up that camera and shoot
something because your BEST shot – it’s your NEXT shot, so keep learning, keep thinking,
keep shooting. Adios!

21 thoughts on “Studio Portrait Lighting with Smith Victor CooLED lights & Smith Victor 19″ Bi-Color LED Ring Light

  1. How do you find enough hours in a week to make these videos with so much information Joe? Awesome job as always. I LOVE the halo ring light effect!

  2. Great series! I appreciate the exposure information along with the setup. Lumens doesn't tell me much.

  3. I have a similar LED ring light from a UK based importer – it's a versatile bit if kit in the studio, especially for still life & product photography where I remove the provided diffuser & place a scrim or silk in front giving me a broad & soft light in close. 

    As you say Joe, a CRI in the mid-80s are adequate for people photography. I have a Ianiro Varibeam LED (the LED version of the classic red head) with a CRI in the mid-80s, it's a lovely light, no issues with colour rendition. Yep, the S-type bayonet is a plus, so I'll be looking at those lights next.

    Thanks for making the time to share your knowledge & insight 🙂

  4. Joe,
    For corporate headshots, which would you recommend as a key light, the CooLED100 or CooLED 50?

    I would like use an umbrella or 24” x 24” softbox as my preferred modifiers.

  5. I've been using the CooLED 100s for a couple of years now. I'd add a couple of points.

    That frosted dome is fairly fragile. It's best to keep it on the lamp. Spares can be ordered through B&H Photovideo for $24. You can also order a tungsten version of the dome from B&H.

    The reflector that ships with the light has flat sides and a mirror finish. It casts a pretty ugly light. After testing a few Bowens mount reflectors, I've found the Haogee ($19 on Amazon) to throw the best looking light.

  6. First Joe…you are MY HERO. The SV SlimPanels which you didn't demonstrate are CRAZY GOOD and dramatic-as-hell in outdoor dusk shots. I mean WOW! Just FYI.

  7. This video was very helpful! Studio lighting, as done with continuous lighting, is no longer arcane to me. Your videos are great, Joe!

  8. Wonderful job, Joe! I was just in doubt about buying some LED lights to learn more efficiently and fast about portrait lighting. As I decided to take a look at your old videos to see if there was anything about…. voi là! There was, great and plenty of information! Thanks. Again and again.

  9. Geartogropher? I'm still working on poor photographer… …where did that Walmart reflector go again?

  10. I gotta say, never been so grateful to have found this channel! Thank you for all the info you share.?????

  11. At 6:55, my imagination, or does the main light form a faint white disc between the eyebrows on the forehead? Not as visible on shots with hair covering the forehead. Could one avoid this by using powder-based, non-reflective makeup?

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