Monday, January 04, 2021

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that it will host a memorial to remember and honor the lives lost to COVID-19 in cities and towns across the country on January 19, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. ET. A Washington, D.C. ceremony will feature amber lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. It will be the first-ever lighting around the Reflecting Pool to memorialize American lives lost.
The Tribute is inviting cities and towns around the country to join Washington, D.C. in illuminating buildings amber and ringing church bells at 5:30 p.m. ET in a national moment of unity and remembrance.

“The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris represents the beginning of a new national journey. However, in the midst of a pandemic – when so many Americans are grieving the loss of family, friends, and neighbors – it is important that we honor those who have died, reflect on what has been one of the more challenging periods in the nation’s history, and renew our commitment to coming together to end the pandemic and rebuild our nation." Pill Tobar, the communications director for the committee said in a statement. 

Roscolux #20 Amber and E-Color #020 Medium Amber are the recommended filter colors. Use these color filters (aka gels) on the lights illuminating your home, restaurant, or building to be a part of this Memorial and Nationwide Tribute to Remember and Honor the Lives Lost to COVID-19.
Roscolux #20: Amber
E-Color #020: Medium Amber
How To Light It Up Amber – Exterior:
Roscolux color filters are available in 20”x24” sheets and 24”x25’ rolls. Most light fixtures can be covered using the 20”x24” sheets. However, if you need to add amber to several lights, it is more economical to buy the 24”x25’ roll. Every light is different and each will accept the filter in its own way. Some fixtures may have a slot for sliding the filter in, others may necessitate a little more creativity to attach the filter in front - which may be as simple as a little tape. Make sure to leave some separation between the filter and the actual lamp, as the lamp itself can get quite hot. Securing the filter outside the glass lens of the luminaire (not the lamp or bulb) is best. Using molding materials like chicken wire to build a stand-off for the filter away from the light might help if your light is too hot right at the lens. Try to cover the entire beam because any white light not covered with the filter can overpower the amber light.

Another option for buildings that don’t have exterior lighting is to gel the windows! Rosco’s e-colour+ #020 is available in wider, 48”x25’ rolls; making it easy to tape the color filter to windows - effectively turning all of the lights inside your building amber for the night.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at 866-502-2724
Barbizon Lighting's offices will be closed on Monday, January 18th, 2021 in observance other the Martin Luther King Holiday. 
These products will be available for pickup at your local Barbizon Lighting office Tuesday 1/19/21.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Barbizon Lighting Invites you to AC Connect Jan 19 or 21

Our friends at AC Lighting will be hosting a fast-paced and informative Zoom session of the high-impact and high-value solutions for the Film & Studio, Installation, and the House of Worship markets offered exclusively by A.C. Lighting Inc.

AC Lighting's Brand Managers from Chroma-Q and Vista by Chroma-Q, PROLIGHTS, Luminex, LumenRadio, Manfrotto/Avenger, and Follow-Me will walk through the must-have products and features that will take your system to the next level.

Join in to see what’s new in entertainment lighting technologies.


Event Date:

Event Time:


Tues, January 19

1:30 - 2:30 pm EST

Registration Link

Thur, January 21

1:30 - 2:30 pm EST

Registration Link


Please select the date you would like to register for and follow the registration link.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Tips to Up Your Webcast / Distance Learning Game, Part Deux

For the purposes of Part 2 of our journey here, let’s assume a few things when considering a setup for our Remote Office – and in the not even a month since Part 1 was posted, calling it a Remote Office any more seems moot until we’ve got a virus, for millions of Americans.  All of you out there working on the Front Line of our society, please stay safe and know that the whole of the world is thankful for being carried on your backs through this incredibly challenging and dangerous historic event.


We left off in Part 1 readying ourselves for color temperatures, lighting fixture types, how they look on camera, and some realities of computer software/hardware.  So much of this is out of your control, frankly, but there are many things you can do to make yourself knowledgeable about the color temperature and output of light that you need in your studio.


Spoiler Alert, or Lazy Person’s TL;DR Because We Know How You All Are:

For your dollar value versus your sanity versus the wide variety of potential camera-and-lighting setups out there in the wild to consider, let’s set a couple of ground rules for this article:

  1. Assume that you are going to get “white lights” for your Remote Office. What I mean by this is that you want to have lights that deal with providing light that is white, whether it is fixed at a certain color temperature, or whether it has a variable setting for color temperature. There is zero need beyond the occasional cosmetic joke shot on camera that you need fixtures with full color-changing abilities. You would be better spent by purchasing fixtures that have more focus on providing top-quality camera-quality illumination to make your camera shot look excellent.
  1. Regardless of the type of fixture you get, be it an LED ring, a Studio Box, a bare bulb that is hanging in your creepy basement Remote Office that you didn’t get the message about your home office being like a serial killer den, get the diffuser accessory/kit. You can soften a light that is harsh. Most bare fixtures will be harsh, especially the LED rings. Technically, the light ring is an accessory that lives on the front of a lens on a camera to produce specific lighting fill, and it got some cameo action in Dave Matthews Band’s video for the song Too Much, directed by Ken Fox with cinematography by Michael Bernard. They liked the way it sort-of looks like teeth. The more you know!



 Color temperature, when we’re talking about lamps (or “light bulbs,” as the folks in the package stores are going to call them, so get ready and leave your Leatherman at home, nerds) – ostensibly, color temperature is the amount of red or blue that a light source tends to in its output.  Confused?  It’s truly not rocket surgery, and this graphic always helps me visualize what the heck it is color temperature really means – it does however resemble a solid middle line between what looks like a great Jim Cameron battle scene between good and evil, no?




This is about the breadth of “temperature” the lighting we use in everyday life.  These numbers are measured in Kelvin – yep science class kids, that one – and if you look around in the last third of the 2000-3000°K range, we live around the 2,700°K range.  That particular amber color is what the market considers comfortable.  At the store, that end of the spectrum is called Warm.  The further towards 6,500°K you go, the market terms are “cool” and “daylight.”  Warm light = amber = firelight, and white = clouds = daylight = Cool color.


The higher on that range you go, the “whiter” the light gets, until around 6,500°K on the scale.  Notice the blend on the graph?  At that point, from about 6,500°K and above, the light begins to trend towards higher blue in its output.  If you think of the graph here and consider what a green filter, for example, would look like with a 2,700°K colored light behind it versus an 8,000°K light source would look like.  That’s leading us down the dangerous path to Color Rendering and the Index – or CRI (Color Rendering Index) – which is the basis of how we perceive a color depending on the color temperature of the light.  For the purposes of this article, let’s let our eyes and this guide be our guide.  Per se.


LED Ain’t New, It Just Got A Lot Better More Quickly


The long and the short of it:  LEDs are low replacement light sources for older incandescent and arc discharge lamps, which use a lot of energy and generates a large amount of heat in the process of making light.  Incandescent and discharge sources were and are still commonplace items in the tv studio, theatre, concert venue, or convention center, but frankly, the more and more we develop LED technology, even the biggest and brightest discharge lamps are getting nervous from the competition.


It feels so alien to be speaking about LED like it’s a newcomer to today’s market – it’s been around and competing since the beginning of lighting fixtures in this half of last century; ostensibly, LED product has been on the market since the 1960s.  The technological growth of the diode itself has given rise to a market full of fixtures that can dial up any color of light that you want, to the wavelength that you like depending on how deep your wallet goes, and because of that, we find ourselves using a scale that was developed based on reality versus replication of reality.  The reality used to be that the color rendering index correlated more closely to what light fixtures could actually do based on energy input and material because the index is based on science, on black body radiators and math and reality.  Incandescent fixtures burning at 20W put out a very low Kelvin, warm amber glow, over there on the left of the index – while incandescent fixtures burning at 300W will put off a light more in the 3,000°K range, closer to that magic white slice there at 6,500°K where colors look perfect and vibrant, like in sunlight. 

Older School: High-Pressure Sodium Vapor and Mercury Vapor


Particularly in Broadcast and Film, which funny enough is essentially what you are doing in your Remote Office, has been a driving factor of change in lighting technology – especially that of LED.  But to understand how we’ve gotten here, you need to know from whence we came, dear Remote Officed Individual.  Due to the properties of electric light, which provides incredible amounts of intense light depending on the actual light source, we use it generously to provide bright light whenever and wherever we need.  However, the gack needed to power one of these high-intensity discharge lamps is plentiful and heavy – and if you need to use it outside on a remote location, you’re going to need a big power cable as well.  Not an optimal situation.  A high-pressure lamp is ostensibly bottled lightning:  a high-pressure glass globe with a vaporized metal gas at super high pressure allows a high-voltage arc to jump across an electrode gap, making controlled lightning into a light source.  Sound simple?  Truly, it is in many ways.


High-pressure lamps that use gasses and metals to make very high amounts of light also use this range as well, and a classic example of this would be the nasty amber basketball-colored light of the high-pressure Sodium vapor lamps used in street lights.  That color temperature isn’t good for skin at all, huh.  A sodium vapor lamp is an example of an HID, or High Intensity Discharge lamp.  By the way, your standard streetlight/outdoor wash/high pressure sodium lamp at 1,000W is 2,100°K – so basically that amber color of yolks of eggs from really good chickens who are treated humanely and given a choice of paper or plastic at the free-range chicken grocery store in their town.  Really orange-y.  On the complete other end of the spectrum, again no pun intended, are the HMI, or “metal halide” arc discharge lamps, with some very high color temperatures reaching well into the 6,000°K range.  The gas used in these lamps is Mercury, which produces a very white light tending towards blue on the color temperature range above.  A tip for all you trivia nerds out there, the HMI in HMI lamp means Hydrargyrum Medium-arc Iodide, and it’s actually an Osram-trademarked term for the gas cocktail in their very high color temperature discharge lamps.  Hydrargyrum is Greek for Mercury.


The main reason we have moved away from these hot, high-energy consuming sources is that they are just that, hot, high-energy consuming sources.  LED fixtures operate at literally a fraction of the cost, provide good light, and with electronics and software are able to do smaller format LED lighting that works great for studios ranging from your Remote Office to film shoots.

Caveat Emptor in Lumen Apparati


There’s a reason that Barbizon created an online shop for making your Remote Office as high quality and professional as possible: In general, purchasing fixtures on the cheap will get you exactly what you ask for, which is a cheap fixture.  We've curated a range of fixures for various budgets and applications and even included some handy audio tools. 

It’s a good thing though to know that even the hippest Zoom background can’t fix horrible lighting.  When you’re looking at what to put in your Remote Office, consider everything interactive that you have to accomplish during the day:  phone calls at your desk, phone calls from your cell, video chats with your coworkers, video presentations and meetings – and let’s say you’re between jobs and taking remote interviews because industries all over the world are having workers produce from home instead of going into the office.  You look better as a candidate for a remote interview if your office space looks already prepared to do business.  Again, this is a situation where your monitor light on your face and a clever background just aren’t going to make you look appealing.  As unfortunate as it is for all of us out there, your lighting reflects outwardly a perception of what your work is like.  That means changing around your home Remote Office to accurately reflect your professional quality.



Sound:  The Other Important Thing We Always Forget


Think of what you prefer in your Remote Office when it comes to hearing your colleagues and clients in a digital situation.  Do you like a fully covered ear muff style headset, or are you an earbud person?  Do you use your cell phone a lot during the day as well as a regular phone or VOIP setup?  Do you prefer having a microphone on your lapel, or will a boom microphone connected to your headset do the trick?  These are all things to consider when looking at how you will interact during the day with your people, and all of these things will affect your choices.  Truly, in many cases, all of this will come down to personal choice.

One specific audio challenge will be how you use both your computer audio and incoming cell calls simultaneously – consider having your headgear on for meetings and interaction and also having to get your phone to your ear for a call.  Instantly, you can kind of see the problem with having to move and remove your headset to take a call.  Barbizon has a range of options so you can plug your headset into your computer and into your cell phone, which allows you to mute your computer and accept a call on your headset or buds.  There are mixers that give you control over more than once source, and to mix two sources into one set of headphones.  These are all things to consider when planning your set up.  Audio problems can plague a system and be almost as bad an issue as poor lighting.  You just straight lose the ability to deliver your message.


Diffusion:  Your Face’s Best Friend


We've been rattling off now about everything in the world except for one thing that is paramount to success in the Remote Office – the diffusion kit for your chosen fixtures.  There are a lot of variables that go into a Zoom or Teams call, for example, that create special challenges that can only be solved by the proper application of illumination.  Most team-type video meeting setups are going to be running some kind of algorithm on the camera feed to normalize the picture and make the best picture from the best available light.  By providing the camera with good light, in the beginning, all the camera is going to be doing is riding the intensity level.  But what you’ll realize is that most fixtures are very bright, and your camera is going to be blinded by the light, if you will.  What’s best for your look and video picture is nice, large swaths of soft light.  Most fixtures have a diffuser kit included, or as an inexpensive add-on if it’s not already integrated into the fixture. 


The best advice to take away here is to trust your eye when it comes to your camera shot.  If you think it looks bad, angle your lights around to be at a 45° angle with your face, and experiment with diffusion versus no diffusion.  You’re going to want to be looking at the picture your camera sees, not the opinions of the other people in your household.  Trust your eye, and trust the camera.  They do not work the same, but they can both help determine how to light your Remote Office for maximum effectiveness.


One more part, Part 3:  let’s take a look at some systems put together with equipment available through Barbizon to really put this in perspective.  Stay tuned, one more part to come!

Here's a helpful landing page detailing some of the many products and kits we have for your webcasting rig:

Friday, August 14, 2020

A Far Back Friday and the Barbizon Wayback Machine: Sid, Sam & Stan and the Rosco "Footcandle Award"

Sid Bloom, Stan Miller, Sam Resnick

We're always going through old pictures and tracking down the history of them.  This week's #FBF is about a picture we found with our founders Sid Bloom, Stan Resnick, and Rosco's Stan Miller. 

As the story goes, it was 1987 and Barbizon was celebrating its 40th year in business.  Rosco owner Stan Miller wanted to give something to Sid & Sam on the occasion. 

We reached out to Mr. Miller at Rosco and he graciously replied with this note:

... I would estimate that it was taken not too long after the company moved from 10th Avenue to 55th Street. Sid and Sam are truly in their prime, still in the early days of building Barbizon into what it would become. Jonathan probably hadn’t even started at Brown and no Case link to Boston was as yet on the scene.


I was also a owner of a manufacturing company building relationships with my dealer resellers. I worked to create demand, but so many dealers took the position “I give them what they ask for”, a brand indifference. Where I sought

dealer-partners, I got shrugs...


But Sid and Sam committed: they were ROSCO DEALERS! and when Sam signed on he was with you! It was possible to get out with Lee rolls, but it certainly wasn’t easy. They truly felt that they had a relationship with Rosco and we endeavored to help them and they had an obligation to support our efforts to make sales. It was reciprocal and we each recognized and appreciated what the other brought to the relationship. 


I know where the “foot candle” came from, but I‘ve forgotten what we said. Believe me, though, we simply could not have come up with enough awards to adequately express our appreciation to Sid and Sam, our true “dealer partners”! - Stan  


Monday, July 20, 2020

Tips to Up Your Webcast / Distance Learning Game (Part 1)

Humanity hit a bit of a road bump in 2020 (we’re looking at you, SARS-CoV-2…) and many people found themselves now working, teaching, learning, and worshiping from home all using remote video. It didn’t matter if you were a network anchor, corporate associate, talk show pundit, or a third-grade teacher: we’re all “broadcasting” from improvised spaces.  Some of these chosen spaces were fortunate enough to be naturally well suited with lots of light, but more often than not they were found spaces in the home with absolutely no lighting help whatsoever, save that one lamp on your desk – you probably know which side of the pendulum you are on that one.

As time progresses – and we’re seeing thousands of employers change to this model every day – some employers decided it was acceptable for some employees to work remotely indefinitely, while others, especially educators, are uncertain about what their daily routine will look like when classes resume.  Currently, our cities are in a constant back-and-forth transition of lockdown recommendations and half-openings, and every spike in virus cases we see means more of an uncertain timeframe as to when we may see some normality.  What we can count on is that right now we’re going to have to be able to quickly pivot from working in-person to remote work, and when working remotely, it’s time to up our remote production quality to make the best of a potentially awkward appearance on camera.

Lights, Camera, Action!

As painful as it is to have to say, it’s best to think of your on-camera space as professionally as you take your in-person interactions with colleagues and coworkers.  So many jokes are made about the person who opened up their video window while less than clothed, the hilarious antics of somebody’s children giving extra help to mommy’s presentation, or just the accidental forgetful standing up at your desk while wearing your button-down shirt with your ¡Áy, Carumba! pajama pants.  Do your best to keep your interface place as free from distraction as humanly possible.  What’s inside the frame and within earshot of your mic is not just your world anymore.

The Remote Office

Ostensibly, your home location is your Remote Office – your phone, computer, lighting, internet connection are all things you would rely on at work.  Everyone is using a laptop or smartphone to record and/or participate in meetings, so in many cases, you don’t have or get to have a choice of a camera – it is what it is, we can improve lighting.  If an additional camera is an option, find something newer that features H.264 hardware encoding and ensures a faster, smoother web video experience.  There is a new generation of cameras that feature something called “HDR” on the market now – HDR means High Dynamic Range.  That ‘DR’ in HDR is the difference of brightness between the lightest and darkest areas of your camera’s picture.  These HDR cameras process the picture with algorithms that give more color, contrast, and luminance to the camera picture – in basic terms this means the image looks better and will forgive your improvised studio for some lighting inconsistencies.

Consider though the age of your laptop or computer before running out to buy the nicest HDR webcam that there is because older computers can have issues with actually making these cameras run.  Some older machines might have issues processing the data from these cameras, and slower processing means choppier video and sound if the older computer will run the camera at all.  Make sure to always check the camera’s minimum requirements against your computer’s current hardware to assure you’re not going to need two trips out of the house.

For example, here’s a really new webcam, 1920 x 1080 pixels at 60 frames a second, versus a 1280 x 720-pixel webcam at 30 frames a second.  All of those numbers are just size and detail – these two cameras in a far-fetched reference are like comparing the iPhone 8 with the camera on the left and the Nokia 3310 on the right, right now in today’s technological growth.  Both are fine cameras, but the camera on the left is up-to-date tech.  The 720-pixel camera was hot tech at the top of its time; time has passed.

When you’re shopping online for the camera, if you’re not using the existing laptop or monitor camera, look for something that sits on your monitor, or has a clip/mount that allows that to happen.  In 98% of your Remote Offices, the monitor-based camera is all you’re going to need.  They come in all price ranges from normal income to abnormal income, and in most cases, are going to work in your computer.  And remember, if you or a loved one needs something other than a monitor-mounted camera, there are options.  We’ll come back to that topic.

Placing the camera in your Remote Office isn’t a very difficult task if you remember the Selfie Constant, a very modern theory we just made up, observed in our modern times, that requires a little know-how into the world “of being cool.”  Think back on any time that you or anyone that you’ve seen anywhere at any time in history where phones had cameras, or even just cameras themselves, as crazy as that is now.  Have you ever seen anyone instinctively taking a selfie photo from under their chin, or at any angle other than directly at the face or higher?  Our human vanity is a good quality here because we are (mostly) good as a species at correcting the view we see in the phone by raising the camera up in relation to our face.  What we need to do in the Remote Office is to apply that Selfie Constant to make our camera position a little more forgiving to less than optimal lighting conditions.

The real party trick here is just to place the camera at least at your eye level, maybe with a margin of one to two inches higher than directly at your eyes, and really no higher than that.  Frankly, many of you reading this will realize (or may have already realized) that elevating the camera slightly may give you perceived aesthetic improvement – the issue with elevating the camera higher than that eye-level margin is that you begin to skew the quality of your attention that everyone uses to gauge how invested in the meeting you are:  your eyes.  You also make it more difficult for the camera shot to see you in the improved lighting you’ll try to implement, and the only thing that matters is what the camera sees and how well you can be heard.

Amplifying and Broadcasting Your Voice

For others to properly hear and understand your voice, you’ll need a way of speaking through the computer clearly and with as little background noise as possible.  Laptops will often have a built-in microphone with varying levels of quality depending on the model and price of your laptop.  Desktops will typically require some kind of microphone input and headphone output, but regardless of the kind of computer, it’s best to decide on what is best depending on your Remote Office’s acoustics.  Just as a general rule, it’s not great to have speakers as your audio output with an open microphone as the input source. 

Consider also what you look like on camera with your chosen audio gear.  A pair of iPhone or Android phone headphones that work for calls work great in your computer as well for your video conferencing needs.  They do look like a pair of buds that came with your phone, though.  However, a pair of lightweight conference headset with a higher quality microphone attached would do a better job of allowing you high-quality output while boosting the level and quality of your voice.  A conference call style headset and mic will give better results than a stock set of earbuds.  

If headsets are not your style, you may want to consider a lavalier microphone that clips onto your shirt (sort of like television newscasters).  If you're the type of presenter that moves around a lot you may we ant to consider a wireless system that can be surprisingly affordable.  There is a wide range of these available from ones that plug directly into your computer or smartphone to versions that plug into an interface where you can directly control the audio level. 

All of this, however, as long as you can be heard, will come down to lighting.

There is an expression in the world of Theatre: “If the audience can’t see you, they can’t hear you.” 

This is especially pertinent in the new settings of having to be your own audio engineer, lighting designer and video director. Assume that if you have poor lighting in your Remote Office, your audience – whether it be a classroom, team members on a sales call, or a Director’s Meeting – if the lighting is poor, there is a very good chance that your message or other important details could be missed, even if you can be heard well.
Nostril shot
No one needs to see this.

Oh, and the Selfies Constant’s actual text:  Thou shall not point thy camera up thine nostrils.

What is “Good” Lighting?

Remember what happens if “they can’t see you?”

The main goal of adding lighting to your video conferencing setup is to improve your presence.  We need to see the presenter, you, clearly, and as the most prominent subject in the frame.  There can be some challenges here, as when you’re at your workstation with no lighting, you appear as a two-dimensional object against a flat wall with no detail.  Our goal is to separate or “pop-out” the presenter from the background.  Modern webcams help with this by utilizing all of the available light and making the image as dynamically high quality as possible. 

Image courtesy Videssence Lighting.
Take a look at the three groups of images.  You’re looking at three “before and after” examples of optimizing the lighting for the camera, which will appear obviously on people’s screens.  

In the top left image, there is simply not enough light in the room.  Can you instantly see how hard it would be to pay attention in that presentation?  But, in the photo on the top right, that issue was resolved by adding a couple of lights from the front to “pop” the presenter away from the wall.  She has dimension through detail, and with that detail, she has your attention.

The middle left image is an example of poor placement.  There’s a light in the room, but it is very high above the subject, causing a “blossom” or a really intense spot of light on the subject’s forehead, and spilling onto the background.  By moving that light source forward, and getting some distance between the speaker and the background, we now see a presenter in front of a wall, and we’re ready to hear and pay attention.

The bottom row of photos shows an intense amount of ambient light in the room that is killing the room’s overall contrast and making the presenter flat.  There is a lot of natural, high color temperature light in that room!  It’s a good example of how a lot of sunlight will overpower a picture.  To rectify this and bring more attention to the presenter, lighting was placed in front of the speaker to pull her away from the background, and the overall intensity of light in the room was lowered to allow for some depth of field in this shot.

Getting Good Lighting

At this point you’re probably wondering “where, what, and how in the world am I going to light my own studio?!”  In reality, it’s not much harder than remembering “45 degrees.”

“I’m sorry?”

It’s a simple concept that is executed very easily, and it is very effective at lighting all of the shapes and surfaces on the human face.  A brilliant man named Stanley McCandless, some call him ‘The Father of Modern Lighting Design” and some called him “the fastest photon slinger of his time.”  Both ways, he invented a method of lighting the face for the stage that not only gave detail but depth.  McCandless’ method called for a light to be placed at a 45-degree angle to the left and right of a person, at a 45-degree angle straight from the face.   In other words, stand in place and draw a 45-degree line straight forward from your nose, and then 45 degrees to the left and right, put a light.  Those two fixtures would be 90 degrees apart from your face.

McCandless also employed the use of a backlight as well to separate the person from the background.  There is a color component to McCandless’ theory, but since we’re not lighting for the stage, we needn’t worry about color, only something called Color Temperature.  We’re trying to maximize the quality of light for the camera.

With most modern “studio” lighting, whose market is both video and photography, you’re going to find a huge variety of equipment that ranges from desktop size luminaire with a little desktop tripod to a more floor-based tripod system that gives you some actual height.  The price tag for a couple of studio lighting fixtures and all of the associated accessories you will need can run upwards of $1000+ or more but does not have to – If if you have the space available, you could consider using soft lights which can be very affordable.

Below is a simple softbox lighting setup for someone who teaches students online from her home studio.  Each of these tents is just a reflector that houses a simple LED A-Lamp and has a diffuser on the outside that is removable for different qualities of light.  Without the soft diffuser on the front, the light has a harsher, more crisp quality.  Each of these functions has its place, but in this particular arrangement the softer light produces better quality light on camera – the fixtures were purchased with the intent on using them without the diffuser, but once set up, the diffuse light looked better on the camera feed. 

Most fixtures do come with a diffusion accessory of some sort, and you’re really only going to know what’s going to work by employing the fixtures and checking your camera feed.

These softbox reflectors have tripods that hold them up and allow you to place the fixtures at different heights.  Some of these fixtures are a panel of LEDs with diffusion accessories instead of a light socket and a reflector.  The models are endless, the choices are infinite, and the confusion level can run into the high percentile.  What’s most important to know with respect to this is that the thing you get is going to make light, and you will end up adjusting the fixture and the output to give you the look you want.  “It’s not rocket surgery,” as a wise man once said.

Here’s a shot of the inside of the softbox, which again is ostensibly a big reflector:

The light source inside this unit is just a 60W-equivalent LED lamp and has a silver dappled surface to make the most diffuse reflection. 

You’ll see reflectors like this colored silver, and you’ll see some that are colored gold.  The silver reflectors make a crisp, white light while the gold reflectors cast a strong warm reflection onto the person sitting.

Something you will notice in the photo from the last page is that the face location and the height of the light sources in the reflectors is about 45 degrees, both from the center and from the horizon line.  Regardless of the quality or any other factor, those sources are about in that McCandless Zone of 45-degree angles, and the result makes an even, modeled look on the face of the person, who in this case is Teacher Rachel:
Notice the balance of the frame above – this is the camera’s view.  Notice how the picture is balanced elementally, and how the face is bright but not overpowering, and structured around the lips, nose, and eyes is to not make Teacher Rachel look flat and two-dimensional.  As she speaks, the mouth and lips are structural and illuminated so that the students learning English from her can see how she is pronouncing the words.  Also notice the camera is right at her eye level, giving natural conversational height to the subject.  All of these things are as important for video quality as they are for compositional effectiveness.  The better her form looks and the more detail there is to make her multi-dimensional, the better her message and lessons will be for her students.

This is a shot of the rear of the lighting setup, with reflectors on their tripods and the camera mounted to the top center rear of the monitor.  Remember when we discussed the important view being that which the camera sees?  Teacher Rachel’s camera view does not pick up her teaching and visual aids strewn across her desk ready for action, they only see magic when she picks one up.  The takeaway here is that the magic that we share in the meeting and work environment is that of a well-framed camera shot, clean and well-lit.

For the sake of brevity, let’s look at a quad shot of Teacher Rachel’s setup with and without some of the light sources on.  In the photo below, we have nothing but the sunlight coming through the window in the top-left frame; top right shows a lamp from across the room that was being used as fill.  Bottom left, the sun lighting the wall and the left-hand reflector are on; bottom right, all elements are used, which includes both reflector boxes and the sun from the window lighting the wall.  What do you notice here?

The Direction of the light and intensity is a very proportional relationship; you want the direction to be perfect, and the intensity to be just enough.  By removing the mystery of the face, you allow the audience to pay closer attention to the content rather than being lost in the shadows.

In Part Two, we’ll talk about color temperature, different kinds of lighting fixtures and how they look on camera, and some tricks to make your background cooler than the coolest Zoom background.  Stay tuned!

We've curated some options for our customers in a mini-store for you to check out at the link below, or call your local Barbizon Lighting office at 866-502-2724 to discuss your situation and we'll be glad to help you with the right solution for your needs!