Dade Freeman
Photographer & Trainer


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Working with Jerry Ghionis' Ice Lights

I am always keen to find new and exciting lighting to use in my work, and when I found out that a friend, Stephen Cotterell, had some of Jerry Ghionis' Ice Lights, I just knew we had to do something interesting with them.

Being the generous spirit he is, Stephen agreed to let me use his Ice Lights, but I took it a stage further and involved a small number of Brighton Photographers Group members to make it a more educational and creative environment, so others could also benefit. The Ice Light is the creation of Jerry Ghionis, an amazing Australian wedding photographer and it's manufactured by Westcott. Jerry basically made a lightsaber-type device which he calls a "portal window light". I won't give you the whole sales pitch - you can see that by clicking the Ice Light link. What I will say is I was VERY surprised at just how bright, light and portable they really are. The cheaper DIY versions do not even compare, so don't waste your time (or money).

Anyway, on with the session. I had contacted two very talented people to model for us, the first was Ethan, a dancer who was keen to be involved and the second was Lily, a model I have worked with on several occasions. The makeup artist was the delightful Ellie Nightingale, who made sure the models looked their best, and who had the pleasure of oiling up the male model! Even though the Ice Lights are highly portable, I booked the studio in the Brighton Media Centre as they always ensure my group is well taken care of and, of course, it's the perfect learning environment. :)

Given Ethan's great physique, I came up with the idea of having him pull on a very thick rope, the kind used to moor boats. So I went down to Brighton Marina and found a very kind man who provided me with a huge length of rope. I realised just how heavy it was while carrying it the mile back to the studio! Anyway, as a prop on the night, it worked very well and gave Ethan something to use while he posed.

After Lily had her solo turn in the spotlight, where we got a little more creative with the lights, we brought both the models together for a couple of sets. I knew that the models' skin would glisten much more if they were oiled, so while Ellie got to work with the oil, I spoke to the group about lighting, shots, angles and how best to use the lights. Where possible I tried to get all the photographers to take turns to direct the models and take control of the lighting - it's only by doing something that you learn.

Knowing I had a mixed-ability group, I had organised as much as I could in advance to ensure that we all walked away with shots we were happy with, and with at least a basic understanding of how to light.

During the shoot, we used a few other props including a red and a blue gel and some talcum powder. You can see the effect in the shots below - it actually made me say WOW when I saw the result on the back of my camera. I always have an idea of how things will look but it still impresses me when something works so well, and the biggest surprise was the studio-light quality the Ice Lights give. To finish the session, we did some light painting, getting the models to hold poses for 30 seconds while Jason and I moved around them, lighting their bodies with the Ice Lights. The finished effect worked quite well, and again showed the kind of thing that is possible if you know what you are doing and think a little out of the box.