We are shooting in a very cool world these days….  Because the newest generation of digital SLR’s have such keen images at high ISO’s, we can often time shoot with a hot light like a Lowel Tota.

1000w Lowel Tota in a small Chimera

1000w Lowel Tota in a small Chimera

The question is:  Why would we do this over strobes?

Switching between stills and video is easy with the Tota Light

Switching between stills and video is easy with the Tota Light

This isnt a solution for every job.  If you want really high quality and need the resolution, you will still want to blast the shot with a strobe, but if the stills are being used on the web, or are not being blown up out of sight, then you can start to think about hot lights.

The main reason we would use a hot light is that often times these days we are not just shooting stills, but are shooting video.  When we need to do both and need to move quickly through a day, the easy solution is the hot light.


We typically use 750w and 1000w bulbs in the Lowel Tota light inserted in a small chimera video soft box.  (make sure you use the video box as it is beefed up in order to take the heat of the light.)  If you try this technique, make sure you are mindful of where you plug in your lights.  Do the math and make sure the outlet can handle the wattage.  Also make sure you don’t plug into a circuit that has machines or computers running on it.  People have a habit of not paying attention and overloading circuits.  The last thing you want to do is plug a 1000w bulb into a power strip where your client has a computer running an important task and blow the breaker shutting down the computer.


Also be mindful of the bulb and having enough space between the soft box and the hot light.  It gets a bit embarrassing when smoke starts to pour from your gear and your client goes white.   Lastly, ALWAYS know what is above your soft box when you are moving around in an office or lab.  Lots of folks don’t realize it, but most modern ceilings are full of sprinkler heads that will go off if heat gets near them.  Put a light in the wrong spot, and you will be using up every bit of your 5 million dollar insurance policy.


We were shooting all day like this yesterday and were able to move through our clients lab quickly and efficiently making tons of images, and capturing lots of video.  For what its worth, I had the ISO between 600-1000 depending on the shot, and the photos were tight.  You can see in the image from the shoot that the hot light can be a nice look.