LED Lekos and Photography

NeroCaesar

Member
Greetings all,

We are an LED house and for years we noticed that the photos our photographers were taking suddenly got Muddy. The costumes were never vibrant anymore, using saturated LED colors for musicals turned every photo to a washed out brown/red mess.

Any thoughts?
I know this has a lot of variables, and likely points at the photographer not knowing how to adapt.

Thanks,
-Greg
 

JonCarter

Well-Known Member
Some thoughts from an old "incandescent & (real) film" person: Your LED lights are producing what, to your eye, looks like radiation from a black body but is really a series of various peaks and not anything like a "real" black body-radiated light. Your camera (film or electronic) is not interpreting this light as "real" 3200 K light due to its being sensitive to peaks not at the same places as those in the LED light. Hope this makes sense.
 

almorton

Well-Known Member
I'd second what Jon says - LED typically isn't a continuous spectrum like a filament (which is why there are now 8 colour emitters in modern lanterns - RGB just can't cut it) and if the peaks in the LED spectrum coincide with troughs in the camera response you're going to get a rotten balance. Some LEDs are specifically designed to work on camera - could be worth investigating?
 

NeroCaesar

Member
I actually really enjoy the physics of it, so granular detail is nice.

I know LED has almost no IR waves, which means the clothes won't be able to shift the waves to visible spectrum like UV light and fluorescent

Any tips to give the photographer (without possibly hurting their pride/ego)?
 
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almorton

Well-Known Member
Out of interest, what fixtures are you using? We recently went over to a colorsource rig (mix of colorsource spot+fresnel adapters and colorsource spot jr) and our photographers haven't really experienced problems - maybe a slightly colder white balance, but even then, warmly lit scenes looked warm, coldly it scenes looked cold, nice clarity, so it's not immediately clear what the solution might be.

It would be interesting to take some photos of a standard, white balance grey card under your stage lights in various combinations and look at the histograms to see if there are obvious holes in the spectra, and maybe apply some correction in post processing?
 

NeroCaesar

Member
We currently use Altman PHX RGBW and Showline SL PAR 155

The fun thing to see is, photos under the LEDs get muddy, but the same scene, once our Halogen Spotlights kick on, the photos are suddenly vibrant, and have more than one color again.
 

almorton

Well-Known Member
Definitely sounds like holes in the spectrum. We have one or two Elumen8 RGBW fresnels, and they are definitely lacking compared to the much better quality of light the colorsources produce (although you'd expect it, given the relative purchase costs).

That said, if I take photos at rehearsals under our harsh, LED work lights, they don't look muddy, and I wouldn't expect the worklights to have a decent spectrum or high CRI.

Do you know what camera is being used? Some photos of plain card would definitely be useful, though.
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
How much white do you include in the color mix? It might be worth increasing that a bit in all scenes. That really helps fill out the spectrum for camera. It isn't perfect, but it can help a lot. Lighting for video is an entirely different art than lighting for live audiences.
 

sk8rsdad

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
This question came up a while ago. Here’s my original response
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
How much white do you include in the color mix? It might be worth increasing that a bit in all scenes. That really helps fill out the spectrum for camera. It isn't perfect, but it can help a lot. Lighting for video is an entirely different art than lighting for live audiences.
Holy ghod, yes.

Our live streaming these last 2 school years has been with Canon XA10's, which are pretty good in low light... but when you're one stop out of blackout with dance booms? Fuhgeddaboudit.
 

NeroCaesar

Member
I am not sure about the Camera, we have had 3x different photographers over the years with similar results.

I feel the worst offender scenes are ones with more saturated colors, so I would agree a bit more white in the mix might help.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
I actually really enjoy the physics of it, so granular detail is nice.

I know LED has almost no IR waves, which means the clothes won't be able to shift the waves to visible spectrum like UV light and fluorescent

Any tips to give the photographer (without possibly hurting their pride/ego)?
Ask the photog if he/she/they are happy with the picture quality, and ask with an arched eyebrow.

Because it's the photographer's problem, not yours. If your board of directors or superior humans think otherwise, submit a budget to replace the LEDs with tungsten.
 

JonCarter

Well-Known Member
More thoughts from an old "incandescent & (real) film" person: Put together a test chart containing an 18% gray card, gray scale and color patches. Illuminate it with your lighting setup. Take a photo of it with the camera setup used for the "muddy" photos. Assuming that this is an electronic photo, adjust it until a printed version looks exactly like the test chart when the printed photo and test chart are illuminated by the same light. (Assuming you can, that is.)
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
If 3 different photographers are all having similar problems, you can see why the finger of suspicion turns towards the lighting though. May not be right, but it's sort of understandable.
Yes, but ultimately *someone* has to decide if the purpose of stage lighting is to tell the story to the audience or to illuminate for photography. If it's for the audience the problem is the photographer's to address, if the latter, it's on the theater. If it's both... have fun and best wishes.
 

NeroCaesar

Member
Our new Light board came with a few cards actually, I wasn't sure what to do with them, but could use them to help talk to the photographer.
Yeah, at the end of the day, we are a theater and not a photo studio. It is understandable that (Musical) Theater is dynamic and saturated so they wouldnt have much time to adjust settings from LQ to LQ. My Photography is not that strong, but I feel like it is a problem that can be over come.
 

coolsvens

Active Member
This is always tough. I am an LD and also always shoot my own shows. There are a variety of things that could be making everything look muddy. Some of them may be the camera settings. There is no "LED" dummy mode on many DSLRs. You get Sunlight, Interior, Florescent, Cloudy and Incandescent. I have found that using the Fluorescent mode comes the closest to getting your ISO/White Balance to the LEDs. But it also totally depends on your LEDs and their quality of light. The fixtures you listed, especially in the saturated colors are likely outside of the "Color Space" the CMOS on the camera can handle. This is also what adds to see artifacts/led fringe in pictures. Basically the camera sensor can't see that wavelength so it doesn't have any clue how to balance the fixture.

This image might help make it more clear.
The grey triangle is the colorspace something like your Showline SL 155 can hit within the industry standard CIExy colorspace.
The red triangle is the Rec2020 colorspace a camera uses. While that is usually more related to top level film/tv cameras the concept still applies.
You can see there are saturated colors like Dark Blue that are outside of the range of the camera where the cross hairs are. This might be one of the many issues causing your images.

If you have the ability to stage a shot I often find with the over saturated LED colors if you can have the designer pull back the intensity you you can start to work with them to craft a better staged shot or a base look and then run a section of the scene in real time to capture those moments.
1637281295994.png
 

Crisp image

Well-Known Member
when you say "photographer" do you mean a trained person who has studied to gain a qualification or someone who has bought a you beaut camera off the shelf and claims to know how to use it and does not know anything about colour temp and other things like it?
This can make all the difference- knowing v not knowing.
 

NeroCaesar

Member
Heh, folks that get paid to do this on the side. Which is what spurred on the initial question, 'what can I tell them without hurting their ego?'
 

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