One of my most used Christmas presents this year is a Viltrox LED Light Panel. I picked it out after my wife said that my stepson was looking for something to buy for me. I am very hard to buy for because I don’t need much and if I do find something that I want it is too expensive for me or anyone else. So you can imagine how hard it was to come up with a good suggestion. I was very happy that it actually was a good suggestion because this light has proved to be quite useful.
I typically hate using a flash for photographing our cats, or anything else. About the only thing a flash is good for, in my opinion, is in photographing receipts. I hate the harsh shadows it creates and you just can’t avoid those laser eyes.
This light panel is not better than natural light but it does improve on the flash that comes on your camera in five significant ways.
It has a much larger surface area than a flash so it does not produce the single direction light that causes harsh shadows. Of course, it is not as diffused as the large studio lights in a portrait studio but it is much more portable and less expensive.
The color temperature can be changed to match the lighting conditions. If you are outdoors and need a fill light, you can set it to a higher color temperature to match the natural light. If you are indoors and want the warmer light that you get from incandescent bulbs or candle, you can turn down the color temperature to a warmer level.
The brightness level can be set between 20% and 100% intensity. Sometimes I just need a little fill light and I don’t want my subjects to squint when I take their photo so I turn the level down to 40% or less.
The light does not need to be attached to the camera so you can get extra light from whatever angle you need it to come from.
By being constantly on, it gives the eyes a chance to dilate, thus reducing red eye or “laser eyes.”
I took the two photos below with the light attached to my camera. The first one of Chris sleeping on the sofa is a good example of how the light does not produce harsh shadows. I wish I had taken another photo using the camera’s flash but I did not think of it at the time.
This photo of Chris does have some obvious shadows, which were unavoidable given the content, but I have shot photos like this using a flash and they are almost always unusable. Pay no attention to Chris’s eye boogers. That has always been a constant problem with his eyes.
What do you think? Do you have any other lighting tips you would like to share?
I dug into the archives for today’s photo. This was taken August 28, 2005, the day we adopted Flash and Tigger (named Ernie and Dooly at the time). Tigger was adopted by my wife’s mother but she did not adopt his brother, Flash. Apparently, Flash was in such distress over the loss of his brother that the shelter called and said we either needed to adopt Flash as well or return Tigger. Since my mother-in-law was not ready for two cats, we took them both in.
While Tigger was very outgoing, Flash was not. In fact, he was so nervous that he scrunched himself under our kitchen cabinet as soon as we let the two of them out of their carriers.
We named him Flash because when you tried to pet him he was gone in a Flash. Tigger got his name because he seemed to bounce around the house like the cartoon Tigger.
Here are the two of them together a few days later.
Sadly, in April of 2010, we lost Flash at barely five years old. He had succumb to multiple health problems that caused him to stop eating. We might have caught the problem earlier but Flash has always had periods where he would act weird and hide for a week or two before returning to his normal behavior, which was slightly less weird. We noticed his weight loss on a Friday and arranged to bring him to the vet when they opened Monday morning. By then there was nothing that could be done.
I don’t remember exactly when or why, but close to the same time that we lost a cat, we gained a cat. Our oldest cat Princess, who was living with Rose’s son, was returned to us. This brought the cat count back up to five. Chris, who was used to dominating the other cats, was now presented with a cat who, for some strange reason, was untouchable. Chris would basically avoid her like a telemarketer as he continued on to more easy prey…like Tigger or Abbey.
Princess was easy to understand though. She was a spoiled bitch who hated everyone but people and wanted nothing to do with other cats. I think Chris understood this right away, or perhaps princess stood up to him and showed him that she was not the cat to bully.
Abbey, however, was complicated. She was very shy and alway ate her wet food or kitty treats away from the other cats. This is because Chris or Tigger would eat theirs fast and then eat Abbey’s food. When that happened Abbey would walk away and then come back when every one was finished, hoping for some leftovers.
Princess hated abbey and would hiss and growl every time Abbey was near, but shy, timid Abbey would stand her ground around Princess. I think sometimes she would move in closer because she knew Princess hated it and then look around like nothing was happening. Chris played it safe, for a change, and stayed away.