Hands on shooting with the Light Blaster – A Von Wong Review & giveaway

By on July 24, 2013

By now you’ve probably heard of a brand new device that has been released called The Light Blaster. I had the chance to play with this nifty little device ahead of time (gotta have some perks for blogging weekly!) and even be part of the very exciting launch about 2 weeks back. I didn’t actually get the opportunity to talk much about the photoshoot itself so I figured that I’d write about how I lit the shots from the shoots while providing a general review of the product. FYI – this blog post is not sponsored.

For those of you who hadn’t had the chance to see the video, here it is:

<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/1WeC34cPAIw” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Note: Those fancy transition effects? Done with the help of Rampant Design Tools Style Mattes !

About the blaster

So what is the blaster? Long story short – it’s pretty much a projector that uses the focusing of a lens and power of a speedlight to project whatever you want, wherever you want. Though that may not sound exciting in itself, when you start thinking of it as more of a light shaping tool rather than a projector exciting possibilities open up.

What possibilities you say?

Well in my case, I used it to transform my flat wall into something with depth by projector a simple abstract pattern. I used it to texture the smoke to create exciting streaks.

But what else could you do? You can create a spotlight since you can suddenly focus your beam of light into specific shapes, you could generate patterned shadows (think simulated sunlight streaming through the trees instead of using david hobby’s plant trick), custom backdrops, textures… !And just imagine if you had two!!

Setting the blaster up

When I first prepped for my blaster shoot with model Jen Brook, I had never used the blaster in the past so I actually had no idea what I was doing. We tried on a variety of different lenses to see what effect it would have on the background.

The result? Wider lens = wider background (duh) Bigger aperture = brighter projection (depth doesn’t matter on a flat wall)

Simple physics.

What was a little harder was actually focusing the projection. Though I could have just shone a flashlight into the blaster and carefully focus, I felt lazy and just snapped away while slowly tweaking the focus until it was approximately where I wanted it to be. Waste of battery, but no worries. I had rechargeables.

To make my life even easier, I had my PocketWizard TT5s and AC3 zone controller to remotely control speedlight power from a distance without having to run back and forth. Double win!

Creating the first shot

VON 3747 Edit

Once the background was set, all that remained was to light my subject without diluting the background. This meant that I had to carefully control my lights using a combination of snoots to not only light Jen, but slightly separate her from the background.

This is more or less what the light looked like:

Lightsetup Quick lighting tip:

Having your model look directly at a light source, even a harsh one will ensure that you don’t end up with unpleasantly placed shadows. Don’t trust me? Grab your friend and get them to look directly at the sun and see how the shadows fall!

Creating the second shot

While shooting the first shot, I noticed that the smoke machine I had running made some really exciting streaks that I had never been able to achieve before with a speedlight so we decided to toss Jen in front of the blaster and have her in the centre of the beams of light.

This time around things were even easier, no focusing was quite required, all we had to do was time things properly so we had enough smoke to capture the streaks… but not enough to drown her.

Changing the orientation of the blaster (horizontal/vertical) obviously made a difference in how the streaks were coming through so finding that optimal combination was once again, trial and error.

VON 3868 Edit

Lighting once again was just as simple, a simple speedlight in the foreground with a snoot to light up her face.

Blaster2 by VonWong

Fun! So what’s the blaster really like?

DSC 8849 510

Well, the blaster comes in a sexy red hard-shelled case that is quite well built and nicely detailed with the blaster logo ensuring that your device stays well protected in the bag; Not that it really needs it as the blaster is made of a nice solid piece of plastic that feels sleek and smooth in the hands.

DSC 8870 510

The slide holder itself slides smoothly into place and is specifically designed to hold the various creative kits available so no complaints there either.

There’s a 1/4″ thread for you to screw a light stand in that’s well placed for the centre of gravity and works perfectly.

From a build quality perspective, the one piece I found a pain to use is the generic Nikon adapter. I dunno if I’m completely daft but getting a hold of which button did what was really not obvious for me (who needs instruction manuals!) so for any nikon shooters out there, here’s a little diagram to save you the trouble:

DSC 9056

In Conclusion, TL/DR’

Overall, a product that delivers and works as it’s supposed to. It unlocks some really cool possibilities that frankly I wouldn’t know how to do otherwise. So what are the cons?

Well there aren’t many to be frank but if I were to nitpick on things I would like to see they would be:

 

  • I wish that there was more power. I like shooting on location, not in studio and speedlights just don’t pack enough of a punch. I’m sure I could mcguyver a solution though to strap a strobe onto the blaster
  • I wish there was autofocus. Focusing is a pain in the butt and I’d love to have an autofocus edition of this… (but not pay the price difference for it.)

 

Who would I recommend this to?

While I can think of a whole bunch of people who would enjoy this I find it easier to instead to name people that I think would NOT like the Light Blaster:

So people who:

  • do not know how to use off camera lighting
  • do not own an extra lens or speedlight
  • hate setting things up and want to run and gun
  • are looking for something natural… Nat-geo style
  • don’t like fiddling with new toys
  • do not have an extra 100$ to invest in photographyThen the blaster is not for you.

Besides that… I can’t really think of anyone that can’t find a use for it… weather it’s weddings, family portraits, environmental shots, fashion, products… I think that anyone can definitely find a use for the Light Blaster. What that is, is really limited by your imagination.

If you guys are curious enough by the end of this post to go grab one and try it out, head over to this link here. Once again, I am not paid to write this, nor am I receiving any sort of affiliate sales.

THE GIVEAWAY!

And finally the moment you’ve all been waiting for. I actually have an extra blaster (Nikon/Canon) (+ 4x creative kits) to give away so if you happen to be one of those poor photographers that’s dying to get your hands on one to try it out, simply share this post and leave a comment on what you’d like to do with the blaster.

The one that intrigues me most wins! Oh, and I’ll also feature the final results on this blog when the shots are ready :)

 

Credits:

Announcements:

  • Just got the most amazing tripod ever from 3 legged thing. Check it out.
  • Upcoming workshops in Vancouver, and Edmonton!! Check them out here

Special Gear used:

See what else is in my camera bag when I travel!

 

  • Braxton Klavins

    Well I do love messing around with lights, and would love using this devise. As of right now, I do not need nor can use it. The reason is because I only have 1 lens and that is the 50mm f/1.8G. I am actually thinking of how long I can go with just using a 50mm because I only really do fashion/studio shoots where the 50 is all I need.
    And then buying the ol kit lens just to use it on this would make me want to use it probably all the time.

    I love what you are doing and your work, it has been very inspirational!
    Thank you on this offer but I cannot accept it :)

  • Ainars Mazjanis

    Such a cool thing, would love to play with it.

    Master Blaster – I need you in my life :D

  • Lars Dahlin

    OK, so you want a intriguing comment so I can get my Lightblaster…

    I need the Lightblaster so I can shoot really nice pictures together with some of my stunt friends. We have already made a couple of movies together and now is the time to freeze the action into cool pictures with yet cooler backgrounds. You have to send the Lightblaster to me so you can get to see the result. You wont regret it…

    Oh, I almost forgot. I live in Sweden so be prepared to see pictures of tall blondes in the pictures too…

  • Frederic Paulo Tutor

    The Best light modifier yet.

    I’ll use it to enhance my Fashion & Glamour Portfolio and I know my portfolio will be perfected if have This maginificent The Light Blaster!

  • will pursell

    project massive images on city landscapes

  • Lima_Oscar

    neat!

    I would like to do something in the sky. I am a commercial pilot/flight instructor so I’d like to try something with formation flying, landings, or static pictures of aircraft on the tarmac.

    Now don’t let the whole commercial pilot title lead you to believe that I am well off.
    In fact, becoming a pilot has led me to be the complete opposite! lol

  • LeBin Teo

    The only limitation is your imagination!

  • Bats Meksyphet

    What wouldn’t I try to do with it?! I guess first off would be seeing what it could add to light painting machines in an urbanscape then machines in nature-esque-scape.

  • Bats Meksyphet

    …and by machines, I mainly mean motorcycles…

  • Teerapat Xixi

    I’d love to fly in my room studio for my self portrait.

  • Steve Staffan

    I would try some interesting shots with my automotive photography, Projecting light trails, cityscapes, etc. I know I could make something badass!

  • Mikee1s Hifumi

    I want to try to use with my 35mm film and create my own creative kits on portrait sessions!

  • Mark B

    I do automotive photography – would love to use this to project something interesting against a brick wall behind a car I’m shooting

  • David Wiewel

    I’d light up the background for band photos!

  • Pedro Fernández

    I want my portraits to turn more 80’esque :D

  • david verbrugghe

    wow this cn ad some serious dept to plain old portrait’s in studio.
    this has no limit’s! you can get allot out of this.

    would love to push myself over the egde and get te most out of it

  • Jay

    I’d get creative with our four week old baby chickens on our farm…

  • Half Pint

    old barn, pitch fork and zombie….epic! (don’t forget the light blaster) :)

  • Robbert Dijkstra

    Want to create something magical the day I would propose to my girlfriend, this just might do the trick ;)

  • Christoffer Bjerregaard

    I love lightpainting, and i would be able to create amazing images with this tool! Anything that can boost my creative capability is welcome in my collection of light tools!

  • Matthew Paquin

    I’m in the very early stages of building a sci-fi set for a shoot and would love to use the Blaster to make my basement ‘larger on the inside’. (test shot with stand-in model: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-FJ0JC8iLt9TFF2Q21pSzVsN2c/edit?usp=sharing).

    I also have a ‘super heroes’ shoot in the works that it would be extremely helpful for. It would be helpful for making somebody appear to be flying, without the photoshop hassle of getting sky between every bit of loose hair. It would be great for giving somebody a textured invisible look, and combined with fog perfect for a “powering up” shot.

  • sikdave

    Love to hack this up, attach a strobe to it, and paint some architecture at night.

  • Hao Greg Yin

    I would be intrigued to use it for product photography, especially food and BEER! Anyhow, this Light Blaster will emphasize my motto which is always to Inspire, Innovate and Motivate!

  • Scott Kuo

    I would love to use this in portrait shoot. Man I wish I wish for it!!

  • Nick Keck

    I’d use this light to create some super-creative band promotional pictures! Bands always love dramatic silhouette-type lighting and the streams would create an amazing effect that they would love! I’d also use this light to get some awesome backlit effects on subjects in light painting pictures!

    Shared on http://www.facebook.com/nickkeckphotography

    Thanks for reading!

  • Paulo Hod

    I’d add it to my photo-a-day project list and shoot with it for a week to see how my use of it develops over that time.

  • James Lawson-Smith

    I would love to use this to this when I goto one of the biggest Cosplay events here in Ireland in November. Think it would add an extra dimension to the shots.

  • Jelina

    I would love to win this so I can use it in my self-portraits. I’m going to study photography next year, and I don’t have a model to shoot or use my lights on. And I love to shoot off-camera flash! So it would be fun to have this and use it ;)

  • John Smith

    I would like to use this to create a mysterious portait style shoot in one of the beach caves here in Okinawa at night. Throw some dry ice in the water for a foggy effect, get a model with long, dark hair, and a long dress we could blow around with a reflector. We could create some epiclisious art!… Yes epiclisious is a word!

  • Amanda Dugan

    I don’t know how intriguing my answer is, but I would love to either find or make a (reliable) underwater housing for the Light Blaster and use it to backlight a model in the ocean, either open ocean or backlighting through the kelp beds. Of course with assistants and safety divers.

  • Peter Tsai

    I would love to blast Von Wong with some crazy patterned light in different colors!

  • Kewal Rai

    Pretty much wanna try it out in a forest scene and make the place look out of this world. But so much possibility with this gear to test and play around,

  • Sujanto Huang

    You’ve enlighten me in many way master.. Can you pass me your extra light saber of yours, so I can learn and practice more to be a good jedi just like you.. Let there be light upon us all..

  • http://intergalacticphotographic.com/ Matt Kaiser

    Is the giveaway still active? If so I’d like to put in my submission. Why would I like one you ask? Great question. You see, I’m gather together of force of elite, highly trained troops ready at a moment’s notice to save us all from the undoubted alien invasion forthcoming. After we ever so heroically save the rest of the galaxy from this marauding band of alien war mongers I shall take my rightful place as Emperor of the Galaxy and reign over—-wait, what’s that? You’re saying it’s NOT a blaster like the those troopers with terrible aim from Star Wars have? Oh, well, ehem…….right then. Nothing to see here.

    Seriously though, I’ve got a portraits class (plus several other photo classes) coming up this fall that I think it’d be really cool to have one these Light Blasters (not the trooper blasters) for. Just the couple of examples you’ve posted here have already got the gears in my mind spinning about with ideas. And I hope you enjoyed the story! Or at least found it amusing, that works too.

  • Sean A Russell

    So Cool. The Blaster reminds me of using a gobo pattern in a leko for theatre designs. This would be so much better on a shoot, in a speedlight it would be the same color temperature as the rest, more compact, no heat. I’ll have to look up what patterns are available.

    Begs to be used for some film noir inspired portraits.

  • herman

    I would like to make fantasy picture if i’ve got this light blaster. In my imagination, my models were capture in misterious place. Since it’s using speed light to light the projection, it’s easy to took it on location, it will extend the creativity to no boundary.

  • Jimmy Lau

    I am interested in using the Light Blaster for interaction between a subject and the image projected by the Light Blaster on a wall, not just as a fancy background. For example, I would take a picture of a subject running and project that image with a 35mm slide in the Light Blaster. The actual shot would be of the subject running away from himself (as depicted by the projected image in the background of him running, which was taken earlier).

  • Ted Chan

    Because I am a total gearhead and I NEED one! I love dramatic lighting and this tool looks like a great bit of kit to spice up my sets. I run workshops for amateur photographers, so all my students could benefit from playing with this too!

  • Beth D

    I would use the Light Blaster to create dark, moody, surreal photographs without all the compositing I’m doing now. I would also love to try it outside to create something sinister yet beautiful at the same time.

  • Shawn

    This looks really interesting! I certainly see a use making senior portraits interesting, but adding a bit of texture to my Lifted by the Light umbrella series would probably be where I put it to good work most awesome. Throw some gels in there too and I bet things could get really unique. I’d even get a model back into a drainage pipe to try out some textures in there.

  • Dixpix

    If you want the real deal (and the power the blaster is missing) get the Profoto ZoomSpot Flash Head. Of course you can shoot the subject on white, close crop and use any background you wish. Hollywood does it everyday – it’s called “green screen”. (I use “white screen”)

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