I met the guys at Lightly Technologies at an exhibition I was shooting and was intrigued by how thin and, therefore, potentially portable their lighting modules were. So, armed with some double-sided tape and some connectors, I rigged up 9 modules (4000K) on a simple square of 3mm-thick hardboard to see how their tech would cope with the rigors of life with a photographer on the road.
Aaron Smedley is an internationally-published editorial and set photographer. He shoots film with a Leica.
[Aaron to pad this out if/where necessary]
Whilst in London, being based in Camden allows me to jump on (my bike / the tube) and go from one part of town to the other. Of course, to be able to do this, I can’t afford to be weighed down with too much equipment so the need to pare kit down where I can is key, from both a portability and weight perspective.
The first thing that struck me was how portable this rig is. It can fit into a vinyl album sleeve. Not only that but the quality and spread of the light is excellent, diffuse, very consistent and with good, flicker-free output. It’s powered by a driver, which fits into the camera bag and is plugged into 2 connectors on the back of the rig.
My makeup artist also used it as a work light because of the quality of output but didn't like the radiant heat after a while. This is likely because on my ‘prototype’ the modules were mounted on hardboard with no thermal path for heat to dissipate.
In the few months I’ve been using it, it’s been used as a flood, background, portrait, ambient light and as a replacement for the sun.
Continuing with the vinyl records analogy, with each module weighing only 35g it would be very easy to fit a sufficient amount of 3 x 3-module rigs [for a xyz shoot / session – Aaron to expand on if necessary] into a record case.
The dimensions of each individual module (100 x 100 x 3.2mm) gives them the potential to be used as easily-scalable build blocks for an on-site, custom-made solution. For example, 3 lines of 3 can become either a square or a line, or an ‘L’ shape. 4 lines of 4 increases the overall effect [x-fold…] [ add ratios and outcomes if necessary].
This amount of flexibility doesn’t exist in the market right now and there's a huge variety of applications this enables [Aaron to expand] with the simple addition of barn doors, grids, gels etc when required for anything requiring direction, for example. The volume of light was fine, although more is always good, but more important is the ability to vary the volume.
For a home-made lighting rig it has been fun to use, works wonderfully and is so versatile that for the last couple of shoots it’s been the only light source I’ve taken with me.
In order to set this technology apart from the rest I would list the following as must-haves:
Colour temperature control [on roadmap]
Adjustable beam [can be achieved with lightweight films rather than barn doors]
Battery option (still needs to be mains powered as well) [possible now]
Modularity / plug & play