Off-Camera Lighting With Cell Phone LED Flash

Posted by

It is said often that photography is just about recording light. So what can you do when the daylight is gone and you don’t want to use your on-camera flash? How about using one or more cell phone LED flashlights as lighting. Unless you are MacGyver you probably don’t have a flashlight with you at all times. But chances are you do have a cell phone. So go ahead and use it to get creative with off-camera lighting at night.

Unlike using on-camera flash, having the light source come from a different direction builds depth and interest in the image. For a portrait where the subject is poorly lit, try using your cell phone LED as the light source or hand it to a friend to hold for you. In the photo below a cell phone LED was placed close to the subject on camera left.


Cell Phone LED flashlight used as off camera lighting

Cell Phone LED flashlight used as off camera lighting

Remember the cell phone’s LED flash is white which is color balanced around daylight. At night, most of the ambient light will be much warmer (more orange). If you want to get better color balanced pictures, keep a CTO (color temperature orange) flash gel in your pocket to place over the LED. This will allow your subject and the background to be at similar color temperatures to better allow them fit in with the scene. This will prevent your subject from being bathed in white light while the envinronment has orange light. Here is a link to some inexpensive color gels that will fit in your pocket:¬†


Cell Phone LED with CTO color gel over light

Cell Phone LED with CTO color gel covering light

Now get out there and get creative with your cell phone lighting!