The Westcott Ice Light is a fantastic little tool. It’s portable, battery powered and produces beautiful soft light. Primarily designed for photographers, it can be a little cumbersome on a video set. Here’s a little tip to make the light much more user friendly in the field.
The thing I love about the Ice Light is its versatility versus portability. Most battery powered LED lights are square or rectangle, and whilst they have advantages of their own, in my opinion none can successfully be used as a flattering key light. They are just too small, creating harsh shadows, and when modified to a larger light source can often fall short in terms of power output. Being tube shaped and with the right angle of projection, the Ice Light can produce fantastic soft light, which rolls nicely into shadows.
There are few lights that can be used successfully in so many different applications (without a lot of heavy grip), which is why it comes on nearly every one of my jobs. Here are some examples of its application. The first is in combination with a window projecting daylight as the main key source. The second from behind producing the backlight, and the third boomed from above as a hair light.
Due to its form factor it never requires heavy rigging, each setup is using a singular micro tripod or lightweight boom.
The fact that it’s battery powered is also great, it means I can use it anywhere. The fact that it has an internal battery is not so great, far from ideal for professional video production. However, Westcott do make an external battery pack that extends the life by 2.5 hours.
Back to the point of the article, the Ice Light is daylight balance, around 5200 kelvins. The light is dimmable but not bi-color so a shift in color temperature requires filtration. Westcott provide two filter clips to enable you to clip filters to the front of the lens, however these are cumbersome and don’t fit in the sleek supplied carry case (not ideal for run and gun). I’ve come up with a very simple solution, giving you a daylight and tungsten option all from the original carry case.
Buy some 15mm adhesive strip magnets, I got some from eBay and looked for a supplier that shipped by poles. You’ll need 62cm in length of each pole. Simply stick one pole to the light, and the other to a filter of your choice.
Cut the filter to size. I wanted a filter that would give me a good match with tungsten lighting, for this I settled on the Lee 628 Three Quarter CTO (designed specifically for LED lights). Would heavily recommend for anyone looking for the same application, you could purchase some additional magnet tape and have a couple of different filters options at the ready also.
The beauty of this mod is that the filter fits into the existing carry case, you simply reverse mount the filter so it sits on the back of the light when not in use. This keeps the whole setup very portable, and reduces the risk of forgetting items when preparing for a shoot.
Another good tip to save you repeatedly screwing and unscrewing the light from your grip via the 1/4″ 20 thread. Install a 15mm stud to the end of the light, and attach a 15mm rod receiver to your grip. This migrates the fixation of the light from a screw to a lever, saving a lot of time and hassle (however it does mean the light won’t fit properly in the case with the 15mm stud still installed).
Simple problems solving like this can save so much time on set, and can often be the difference between getting the shot, and missing it. Have you any tips to share on similarly popular gear?