Jay P. Morgan: Mixing HMI and LED Lights

Recently, Jay P. Morgan and The Slanted Lens crew produced a vintage train station shoot at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California. Since they were shooting both stills and video, they needed to use continuous lights and Jay P. decided to use a mix of HMI and NorthStar™ Lite LED (both daylight-balanced).

For this The Slanted Lens piece, we shot out at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California. They generously gave us access to their steam train and World War II passenger cars. We used this setting to look at the process of mixing HMI and LED lights.

We lit a very large area. It was three train cars long and we needed some serious power to make this happen. Because we shot both stills and video, we needed to light everything with constant light sources.

The area to cover was very large and we needed something strong to serve as the main backlight, so we rented an Arri M18 HMI, which draws 1800 watts and runs off a single 20-amp circuit.

We set up the M18 deep in the shot and layer smoke from the Rosco 1900 in the background between the light and the scene up front. I was okay seeing the light in the scene and let it appear in the frame for most of the shots. On this light we added a 1/2 blue Rosco gel to cool it off. I shot at 1/50th of a second at f/5.0 and pushed the ISO to 1250 to get a proper exposure.

Here is the first image with just the HMI. You can see that we had an angle of incidence problem. The light was on the angle to reflect into the side of the train car. If we had a lift to get the light higher we could have gotten rid of the reflection, but because we didn't have one, we knew we had to either retouch the high light out or cover it with smoke. With the broad strokes laid down with the HMI, we then added LEDs to paint in the image. The nice thing about these single light LEDs was that they allowed us to use a single light in many different ways.

For our first light, we placed a NorthStar™ Lite inside the second car in the background with just a 7-inch reflector. It was aimed out the window toward the ground to create window patterns on the walkway and create light shafts in some of the images. We added a 1/2 CTO or warm gel on this light.

We then added a NorthStar™ Lite with a 7-inch reflector on the camera left side to rim the couple and imitate the look of the HMI in the background. The HMI was just too far back there to rim the couple up front. We added a 1/2 blue on this light. This was the image with the rim light.

For the key light, we added a NorhtStar™ Lite in the car just ahead of the couple. We placed the light just back from the window so it would illuminate the couple, but cut off the people in the background. The windows were very dirty, which helped to soften the light coming through. This was our image with the key light.

Our last light was with an OctoDome® just on the right side of the camera. I panned it in to open up the shadows on our talent. This was our final lighting setup. This was an epic shoot and a lot of work. After this shoot, I feel more comfortable mixing LEDs and HMIs. They work very well together and create a very cinematic look.

Produced by Jay P. Morgan and The Slanted Lens Team. To see more of Jay P. Morgan's work, visit his Pro Showcase page.

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