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How to Make Creative Images with a $12 LED Light


Photography is all about the light. As photographers, our aim is to capture and control the amount of light hitting the camera’s sensor to perfect a good photo.

When photographers talk about light, you will hear terms mentioned such as ambient, which is natural light. Note this type of light is always changing, it doesn’t remain constant. Split, Rembrandt, and Butterfly are some of the classic lighting patterns used for portraiture in a studio setup.

A LED torch with a paper snoot.

One of my favorite basic setups when I shoot outdoors is when the day is overcast (dull), which makes the light act like one big soft diffuser. The ambient light provides my main source of light (key light) and I use a white, silver, or gold reflector to act as fill.

This is in sharp contrast to shooting in a studio where artificial lights are used. The choice and range of lights will depend on whether you use flash or continuous lighting. The main advantage to this kind of setup is that you have complete control over the lighting, plus it doesn’t rain!

The best method I find in learning about lighting, be it natural or artificial, is to experiment.

Recently, I was flipping through a camera magazine when this product caught my eye – The Ice Light 2 by Westcott. It stood out for two reasons: The concept and the price. I really liked the Stars Wars light-sabre appeal to it. It’s different, and has that wow factor, as does the price. It’s not cheap.

This is not a review of the Ice Light, but it did give me some inspiration for an idea. For less than $12.00 USD, I purchased this LED light which, surprisingly, has 140 lumen. I set myself a challenge to see how effective this light source could be when used for photography.

A small but powerful LED torch light.

How did I test it? I took some shots outdoors, as well as indoors, just to get some variety and scope to this project.

For my initial shots, it was 10:30 p.m. at night, not quite dark, but dusky. I went to a little park near where I live, placed the torch horizontal in the grass, and had the toy plastic Gorilla in a grassy verge, roughly a couple of feet away. I had the aperture at f/2.5, the ISO at 400, and the shutter speed at 1/50th.

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