As a Director of Photography and head of a production company that shoots a wide variety of commercial/advertising media for lifestyle brands, hospitality companies, editorials and retail brands, we often find ourselves in search of the best camera and lighting equipment to get the job done efficiently. At times, this results in us demoing and purchasing equipment that we put through a rigorous amount of daily use. With regards to lighting equipment, we often find that the most expensive lights are not always the most appropriate for our use, for one reason or another.
One of the best photography and videography lights we’ve come across is a product that fulfils a majority of our needs at a cost that is highly attractive – the Litepanels Gemini, a full spectrum daylight to tungsten LED soft panel light that is highly affordable. Currently, it comes in a 2x1 LED panel and for us, apart from being able to dial in any color in the 360° color wheel, this light is also consistent and flicker-free at any intensity, frame rate and shutter angle. Particularly for this shoot, it was highly beneficial to know that all our slow-motion shots were flicker-free and there was no shift in color at all power levels, giving us the lighting consistency that is needed for all e-commerce and product photography.
– Andrew Kung, President of Andrew Kung Group
For our shooting setup for the Ciroc Black Raspberry product we used four Litepanels Gemini LED 2x1 panels that plugged directly into a regular electrical socket in our studio. Ease of use is an understatement (also lightweight compared to some other brands). Becuase these lights are inherently soft but have ample intensity, we could use them to shoot directly onto the product without any diffusion, shoot into V-Flats to produce diffused lighting or to bounce light onto the edges of the bottle to create a white edge/line. We were able to forego using multiple lighting instruments and diffusers/softboxes such as stripboxes and scrims to achieve the same effect, meaning you can cut down your lighting kit in your studio or grip truck to a smaller and more manageable size. For lighting equipment, this entire product shoot was shot using only four Gemini LED 2x1 light panels.
For most of the shoot, we used a reflective black surface which provided a nice glossy reflection of the bottle and a Savage 9′ Super Black seamless backdrop as the background. For the video component, the vast majority of the shots were shot in slow-motion at anywhere from 60fps to 120fps. Since this involved bottle photography and video, we had to be concerned with reflections on the glass. To minimize the reflections, we used two large 48″x48″ Matthews floppy cutters on the left and right of the camera to block out any unwanted reflections. We also set-up a number of other black foam core boards on set to tackle this issue, you will see this in the behind-the-scenes images.
Above are examples from our stills photography shoot with the bottles. When shooting bottles on dark surfaces, especially dark/black bottles, it is typically best to create a white edge or white line on either side to frame the bottle so that it does not disappear into the background. As you can see, the inherent reflections have been left on the bottles to show the positioning of the lights and these bottle shots are not composited from multiple images with different lighting set-ups. These reflections are usually refined even further in post before delivery to the client but we wanted to show you what you would be able to achieve in-camera with only some basic post-production. What you see here is what the camera captured with our LED panel lighting set-up, with some dust removal/cleanup and minor enhancements applied to curves and sharpening.
To read more about our lighting set-up and the equipment we used, scroll down.
Illuminating Bottle Shot (Dark to Light)
Even though this is a simple shot, it is appealing to me because of the ability to create such shots in-camera instead of in-post. The Litepanels Gemini 2x1 LED panel has a very pleasant, soft fade-in upon start-up and we used this property to illuminate the front label. The shot starts with the Gemini on the left staying on and bouncing light into a V-Flat to illuminate the left side of the bottle while the Gemini on the top boom is off at the start and is then turned on during the shot. This illuminates the details on the front of the bottle gradually; which results in properties of a shot like this being created in-camera instead of in-post.
Flowing Water Shot
For this shot, we used a Gemini 2x1 as our key light with a grid to light the black raspberries from the right rear, at about 45 degrees. The height of the key was on the same level as the subject. The grid helped us control spill and focus the light towards the top right of the frame. We then used another Gemini positioned slightly above the raspberries at about 25% intensity of the key in order to add some fill light. Lighting this shot with this set-up allowed us to maintain a lot of dimensionality on the raspberries as well as add some nice highlights on the water without creating a flat shot.
Moving Light Shot
Similar to the first illuminating shot from dark to light, this bottle shot set-up is a slight variant where we had two Gemini 2x1 panels on the left and right, set on low power and aimed into V-Flats. The shot starts out with the bottle slightly illuminated from both sides with the bounce from the V-Flats and then another Gemini aimed top-down on a junior boom arm is used to light the details. To make this static shot more interesting, the top-down light is ‘rotated in’ using the junior boom arm to move over and light the product, resulting in some nice highlights and reflections that move over the embossed details of the bottle.
Bottle Pour Shot
For this shot, we wanted to introduce some color. Purple is the color associated with the Ciroc Black Raspberry branding and so we used the Litepanels Gemini’s full RGB spectrum capabilities to output color that would normally require gels. We used one Gemini 2x1 panel with camera left on the far side, to light the pour and then another Gemini 2x1 was used to light the bottle from the top.
Gel Background Shot
Almost the final shot, with a full introduction of color on the background this time. We used a Gemini 2x1 as the background light to output a purple wash onto the seamless while the two LED panels on the left and right remain bouncing light off the V-flats. Then we used one more Gemini 2x1 right above the camera for some front fill – far enough away from the martini glass to not add additional reflections.