How to Use LED Lights for Creative Portrait Backgrounds

A thin long strip of LED lights, a camera-lens combo, a tripod, and a lot of imagination: that’s all you need to replicate this rather interesting lighting effect. If you shoot funky portraits for a living or you’re bored doing chin-up formal shoots, Gavin Hoey and Mark Wallace have something that will bring a smile to your face:

Lighting and Camera Settings

Hoey uses a Flashpoint Streaklight 360 Ws as the key light for the shoot. He sets the light close to the camera because of the wide angle frame. A quick meter reading and the aperture is derived at f/11. ISO is set to 200 and the shutter speed is set to 5 seconds to allow the LED lights to be recorded as they are moved behind the model. But the key to this whole setup is the color changing strip of LED lights that Hoey uses. Oh, and make sure that any room lights are turned off when making the exposure.

LED Background Technique

The camera is set to timer. As the exposure begins, the flash fires, illuminating the model. Hoey then moves behind the model carrying the LED lights in a random movement. It’s that simple.

LED lights as background

Red LED lights moved straight across the background

how to use LED lights as background

Blue LED lights in wave pattern

LED lights for portrait background

Rainbow multi-colored LED lights

The creative possibilities are practically endless. Have you tried something similar?

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One Comment

  1. Pretty cool but the video and the article fail to tell you where to get the LED light strip. So I feel “teased” by the article. Be a bit more specific when you produce these!

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