Whether painting or shooting a still life, the setup is key. Each element is deliberately placed, right down to the background, spacing, and proportions of one object to the other. One of the most important aspects of a still life, however? Light. The way that a specific angle glare casts one shadow against the next can completely change the nature of the piece as a whole. In order to properly control the light that you seek, spotlights are a great tool. You can raise them to the height that you want, angle them just-so, and cast an artificial haze on your subjects of choice. Whether you’re looking for something large or small, tall or short, or more or less portable than most, check out the below spotlights for still lifes, all ARTnews approved.
1. Neewer Photography Bi-Color Dimmable LED Softbox Lighting Kit
If you’re looking for a spotlight that gives off a slightly less directed light, consider this one. The kit comes complete with two identical spotlights that each have attached to them 45-watt dimmable LED light heads with soft boxes around them to diffuse the glow. The soft boxes measure a total of 29.5 inches by 20.8 inches around, and the stand itself reaches a height of 78.7 inches (with its most compact falling at 36.2 inches). Additionally, the lights come with two color temperatures and a dimmable system for optimal use.
2. Pixel RGB LED Photography Lighting
This is the light to consider if you’re looking for an easy way to illuminate your subject with not only white or natural light but also a wide range of different colors as well. The light itself measures 9.7 inches by 13.4 inches and attaches to most standard light stands (though this kit comes complete with one that reaches up to 74 inches high). The light is fully dimmable and has a color temperature range of 2,600 K to 10,000 K. In addition to the range of standard colors that you can tap into, they also come preprogramed with lighting effects, like “fireworks,” “ambulance,” and more. They are also fully transportable and can be either powered by AC adapter or by lithium-ion battery, though the latter option is not included in this kit.
3. Godox SL-60W LED Video Light
A more direct spotlight for still lifes is often the choice made by teachers who are setting up a single still life for a bunch of students to draw or paint from. What’s more, this specific spotlight is easy to use, maneuver, and adjust but is also extremely affordable. At $134, you can shop for a white spotlight that easily screws into any and all standard light stands. The light has a super-high brightness, at 60 watts LED, and comes with a wireless remote for adjustments. There is even a temperature control to prevent it from overheating. The light itself measures 24 centimeters deep by 23 centimeters high, so it’s completely portable and easy to maneuver.
4. Fovitec Portable 2-Light Kit
This option is one for larger spaces, to be sure. If you’re looking to properly light a larger still life area in a space or room that largely exceeds a tabletop, this is an option that you should consider. It’s made of 600 LED Bu-Color Panels that include an opaque and an amber filter. Two come in the kit so that you can set one on each side to fully illuminate, or use one at a time to cast more deliberate shadows. When extended, the lights can be raised to up to eight feet, three inches high. The lights are also fully adjustable for projection, temperature, and precision brightness. Each panel measures 15.5 inches by 15.7 inches.
5. Aputure LS 300x Bi-Color LED Video Light
For professionals who are looking for a super-finely tuned spotlight, this is the one for you. It’s a splurge, to be sure, but it comes with all the bells and whistles that are required of a great spotlight that will not only stand up against its competition but also stand the test of time. The 5,500 K color temperature matches the sun and blends seamlessly as white light to produce a luminance that’s more realistic than its competitors. As such, you’re able to produce a light that is warmer than most tungsten lights but also slightly cooler than actual daylight. There is a control box, remote control, and even a Bluetooth app for your handheld devices. There are nine built-in special effects, such as “paparazzi,” “fireworks,” and “strobe,” all with adjustable color temperature. All pieces of the kit are carefully packed in a travel bag, and the light itself can be attached to most standard light stands.