"Isolite" on kickstarter - opinions?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by rodeo_joe|1, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. I came across this Isolite project on kickstarter.

    At first I thought it was complete BS, but basically it proposes exposing an image using two colours of light (maybe more?).

    The different lights can then be mixed down to create a monochrome image with a variable light pattern.

    I'm really not interested in the over-hyped kickstarter project, but it's an interesting idea. As far as I can see it only needs a couple of theatre gels and a decent image editor to make it work.
  2. I took a while to reply, hoping I'd be able to wrap my mind around the idea but probably failed. - I love B&W and am not really used to sophisticated lighting yet, assuming that portraits I haven't tried are harder than products. So I might be an almost ideal customer. - The original Isolite stuff seems indeed a bit nastily priced at $1K5 for their studio set.
    How well will your theater gels approach work, Joe? I suppose it will demand about twice the lighting gear? The Kickstarter thing looks as if they are using something like partial mirrors reflecting one color and letting another pass. (at least if their beauty dish is meant to offer soft or harsh light and of course for their bounced or direct speedlite. With gels we probably need a separate dedicated flash for each color. Sounds just nasty to haul but still more affordable than Isolite.
    Which gels to get? What RAW converter would work? And is color balancing geled light sources as efficient as their concept?
    I'd happily see somebody dabbling with Isolite's ideas! OTOH I should probably better get some portable light stands and enough speedlites together to just visit a friend and try environmental portraiture conventionally.
  3. Hi Jochen.
    I suspect the Isolite modifiers use dichroic filters to split the light into very specific ranges of wavelengths. Those filters are expensive and only available in limited sizes, but I'm not convinced they're entirely necessary.

    A quick experiment with conversion of a digital colour image to B&W shows that applying different 'colour filters' creates dramatically different effects. So I see no reason why simple red and blue theatre gels shouldn't be equally effective in creating different lighting effects during B&W conversion. The only difference being that two separate filtered lights would be needed, rather than the beam-splitter used by Isolite.

    I recently bought a set of Godox portable softboxes for speedlights that I need to check out. So I might combine that test with a couple of coloured gels over the speedlights and see how well the Isolite idea works with cheap gel filters.

    I have 3 Godox softboxes, and I suppose I could go mad and use red, green and blue tricolour filters to see if the idea could be extended to 3 lights.

    Hmmm! Butterfly, loop and Rembrandt lighting all in one shot! That might be very interesting. Except I doubt the red and blue filters will be very flattering on skin and lip tones.

    I wonder if the models in the Isolite demo pictures wore clown-like pancake makeup?
  4. Basicly the older Philips PCS 2000 Enlargers coul be use in a similar way. They were one of the few enlargers that used to use an additive colour mixer head, which contained 3 white light halogene lamps, in front of which dichromatic (r, G, B) filters where placed/ By controloing the brightness of the lamps all (vissible) light colours could be mixed.
    I used to have two of those enlargers about 20 years ago , they allowed me to create a lot of very precise possible effects in both colour and B&W printing..
    Here is a iscription : Ollinger's Guide to Photographic Enlargers: Philips Enlargers
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
  5. Well, I've shot a few 'proof of concept' portraits using red and blue Lee gels. Now I just have to figure out the post-processing procedures to make use of them.

    The same post-processing challenge seems to be the stumbling block for Isolite. They don't seem to have any user-friendly software to go with their hardware either!

    The more I think about this, the less useful it appears to be. You have to consider the lighting very carefully in the first place - so why not just light the subject the way you visualised it?
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  6. I kept wondering if putting up different unfiltered lightings and automatically switching between them doing shots in a row wouldn't be the better idea if the whole approach makes sense at all.
    With unfiltered lightings set up color would remain an option.
  7. It works!
    No need for fancy modifiers with dichroic filters. I just used a couple of Lee filter strips over two speedlights to produce the below shot. (Primary red, and a combination of double CT blue+steel blue.)

    One speedlight was in a softbox camera right, and the other unmodified as a hard light source camera left.

    Left is the bicolour-lit image as shot; right is a monochrome mix.

    Two B&W derivatives from the bi-colour original. I was surprised how well the two light sources could be separated. Complete loss of the hard nose shadow is especially impressive.

    Obviously the two B&W layers can be combined with varying degrees of opacity to emulate different lighting strengths.

    Another surprise was the skin tone produced by the red light. A lot of texture has been lost and a very 'plastic' look gained. OTOH the blue filter has emphasised skin texture.

    Altogether an interesting and instructive exercise. But as a practical technique? Still not convinced, since I far prefer the original softbox lighting that I set up before experimenting with the bi-colour lighting.

    FWIW, I used red and blue solid-colour layers in 'subtract' mode to separate the light sources.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017

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