Robert Caplin's Light Fare

So this is turning out to be a foodie-themed week. What a great idea, above, from NYC-based photog Robert Caplin. I am so stealing this, like, right now.

I'm eating my way through Howard County, shooting as I go (somebody's gotta do it) and it doesn't get much simpler for shooting food than a macro lens and a palm-sized LED light. I think my 3x6" LitePad just earned it's way into my regular kit.


(Via ISO 1200)


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Blogger David Fair said...

There are apps for both the iPhone and iPad that make them into simple hand-held mini softboxes. I used one last night to provide enough light photograph my anniversary dinner at the Melting Pot in Gaithersburg (MD).

June 09, 2011 9:41 AM  
Blogger John said...

Pretty darn nifty idea! My favorite part is, no lightstands or VALs needed. :)

June 09, 2011 9:58 AM  
Blogger udijw said...

Probably does wonders to focus too

June 09, 2011 10:06 AM  
Blogger Ian Pack said...

LED Litepads are highly under rated. I use mine as a soft fill with Speedlites or in the studio - my favourite has to be the 24" x 24" as a 12v location light source that's only a 1/2" thin!

June 09, 2011 10:13 AM  
Blogger ISO 1200 said...

Thanks David, for your link. We are your fans number 1.

It is a honor to be in your blog.

June 09, 2011 10:20 AM  
Blogger aaronv2 said...

An iPad works well too! And you can have different images on screen such as white circles or window shapes to get some nice reflections in surfaces as well as getting a nice kick of directional light from the LCD

June 09, 2011 10:29 AM  
Blogger Jim Quinn said...

Restaurant kitchens are very crowded spaces, so it's a good idea to use small, portable lighting tools. I liked Caplin's video, and I'm sure that a Rosco Lightpad (or an iPad screen, or any of the other suggestions posted here) would produce great results. But if you'd like to try out the idea of a small and portable continuous light source before you invest in such serious gear, hit a hardware store and spend just a few bucks for an AmerTac Moon Light, a battery- or DC-powered circular light meant to illuminate dark closets. It's 5.5 inches wide and a few inches thick, and weighs very little. You push the white dome to light it, push again to turn it off. Crank your ISO a bit, set WB to tungsten, and move in close.

June 09, 2011 2:11 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

I just grabbed an app for my iPhone to do this. Now I am going to need a second iPhone to take pictures with :)

June 09, 2011 2:16 PM  
OpenID nikonfilms said...

I totally stole your idea and created a food review website that will allow me to go out to eat, shoot dishes, and rank the resteraunt (they are all great :-) and then share the photos with the resteraunt owner in the hopes of working with them more as a client. Something like this is great because I already have the light panels that I use for HD DSLR videography.

June 09, 2011 3:02 PM  
Blogger H A R R Y G O A Z said...

Very informative.

Have a SUPER weekend !

June 09, 2011 5:19 PM  
Blogger LWimages Photography said...

Does LitePad need a power plug-in?
I don't see anything on their website that it can be battery operated.
That'd be a hassle if I had to ask for an AC port at a restaurant.

June 10, 2011 1:45 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

@LWimages - Joel from Rosco here. The LitePads come with a PSU to plug them into the wall. However, there is a AA Battery Holder accessory available that allows you to run it off of (8) AA's - giving you at least eight hours of continuous operation for a 3"x6" LitePad. We have other adapters for powering remotely too. Feel free to contact me directly,, with other questions.

June 10, 2011 5:04 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Pretty steep prices for those light panels, though the dimmer could be nice.

I'm thinking three of those Tactical LED flashlights they sell at costco pumped through some kind of softbox/diffusion setup would be a powerful, on-the-cheap setup. They take AAA batteries and quote a 4 hour runtime on low power (blindingly bright undiffused).

Alternately, head to the dollar store and pickup a grip of cheapo LED flashlights and zip-tie them together to form a bank of them.

I don't shoot much anymore, but would love to see someone do it!

C'mon strobist, get crafty!

June 10, 2011 6:13 PM  
Blogger Alan Lapp said...

I've seen something like the unit used in the video at my local hardware store. I'll have to pick one up now...

This is the closest I can find with a 5-minute Amazon search.

June 10, 2011 6:58 PM  
Blogger Joyce said...

Really creative. The results of the photos are very amazing. I learned something new from watching this video

especially I'm into business photography.

Photography Assistant

June 10, 2011 9:36 PM  
Blogger Joyce said...

Really creative. The results of the photos are very amazing. I learned something new from watching this video

especially I'm into business photography.

Photography Assistant

June 10, 2011 9:36 PM  
OpenID said...

Would an iPhone fit behind a 1/8 Honl spot grid??? :)

June 10, 2011 10:30 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

any iPhone app suggestions?

June 10, 2011 11:25 PM  
Blogger review said...

if you'd like to try out the idea of a small and portable continuous light source before you invest in such serious gear It's 5.5 inches wide and a few inches thick

June 10, 2011 11:38 PM  
Blogger ian said...

Robert Caplin has posted functioning links to the specific light used in the video in the comments on his YouTube account video.

June 11, 2011 10:41 AM  
Blogger marcus said...

Small daylight LED panels can be really usefull, and you don't have to run with the near $300 litepanel models, there are many cheaper alternatives out there..
I've got a £36 126 lamp one from HK via ebay that I'm happy with.

June 11, 2011 7:08 PM  
Blogger DoDa! said...

I found a great little LED at my Toyota dealers parts department that fits in the palm of your handand it has two separate lights built into it.
1) is a 6x4 LED array on it's face
2)is a 3 LED array on one end
3) the back has a magnet
4) and a hook that lays flat when not in use or swivels out when needed
5) $10 ?

Michigan Industrial Tools... Maxcraft

June 11, 2011 10:52 PM  
Blogger SJCT said...

Great video. Thanks for the tips. Also, Jim Quinn, thanks for the heads up on an inexpensive version!

June 11, 2011 11:42 PM  
Blogger Fimfie said...

Great little clip. I think the iPhone softboxes are a gimmick. The device just doesn't have the grunt. These LitePads look pretty nifty. I've been doing a little food photography ( and regard consistency of set up as critical to something like a 'menu' shoot. Any deviation from the established norm lighting can need a little kick and this Pad seems to offer that. I love the roving jurno capabilities of it. I guess we'll see patrons in restaurants taking food pics now. Thanks STROBIST for this little vid

June 13, 2011 9:38 PM  
Blogger IrwinWong said...

Hi David,

In keeping with the whole LED lighting thing, thought you'd be interested in this post where I shot portraits of volunteers up in the quake-affected area in Japan, using LED headlights and panels. The photos were shot inside the abandoned buildings we were cleaning.

June 13, 2011 10:14 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

One of my clients sells a little palm sized led light similar to this. It is much more affordable and may be a good way to get a feel for a tool like the Rosco. I'm not sure how things like color balance or softness would differ, but i can tell you that these would definitely be bright enough in a similar scenario. But for 10 bucks i think it might be worth a try! I will be playing with the unit i "acquired" and if anything spectacular happens i will post some results. Here is the link in the mean time:

Happy shooting! and thanks for posting this video Mr. Hobby. It is a great idea for someone like me who is minimizing my gear from a Tamrac expedition 7x to a Domke fx3.

June 15, 2011 12:43 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

There's a great article on cheap LED video lights here:

The Z96 model can be had on ebay for around $75 and looks really good!

June 15, 2011 5:08 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Harbor Freight has a 27 LED palm-sized light for less than $4. Has the hook and magnet as the others do. It is pretty bright.

June 26, 2011 1:01 PM  
Blogger Michael Henry said...

Thanks for reposting this video, I don't think I would have run across it otherwise. Tried this lighting technique this weekend with spectacular results.

While some other restaurant patrons did notice the light, most were not very disturbed by it (I asked). One asked if he could try the light to use his cel-phone - again with great results.

The head chef at one restaurant was very curious about how well it worked and was surprised by the results.

Neat. :-)

While Robert Caplin made the video, I have to thank you again for reposting it because I wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

June 27, 2011 1:00 PM  

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