|The Lastolite HiLite is usually used as a
background, but can be used as a giant soft box. Used side on it can produce
the light very much like that coming from a large window. It does not have
any light source of its own but is lit by lights shone in from the sides,
in most cases flash units.
The unit is constructed of two large, nearly
square spring hoops, the front one containing an opaque diffuser panel and
the rear one a reflective surface inside and black back. The two hoops are
joined all round by material that has a zip in, each of the four sides
and two hoops held apart by spring in spacers. The whole thing goes up and
folds down, to go in a bag a third of the size of the background, in a couple
of minutes. The bag is not heavy and can be easily taken anywhere. When
together it stands up either on the long or high format. There are four
The main HiLite is well made and works
well. It comes in the following sizes:-
|1.4m x 1m (no train
available for this size)
|4'6" x 3'6"
|1.5m x 2.15m
|5' x 7'
|1.8m x 2.15m
|6' x 7'
|2.5m x 2.15m
|8' x 7'
Optional extras are:-
- A 'wipe clean' vinyl train as an extension that can
be stood on, made of thick vinyl and which Velcro's to the base. As
this is not back lit it appears a different colour and the join shows,
joining it with the Velcro is its weakness. It comes rolled up in a large tube,
so would be difficult for most people to take anywhere.
- Bottle-tops, these stretch fit over the
HiLite, allowing it to support another background material. In doing this
it ceases to be a light item. There is a black background that would
compliment the HiLite white and a chromakey that allows, with software
available elsewhere, for the background to be replaced, as in the weather
presentations and action movies. See
Chromakey and Lumakey,
for photographers, TV and film.
I find it best to illuminate it with two,
rather than one light, to get a more even lighting, and usually use two
Nikon SB200 flashes, most think of these as macro flashes but they are
more than powerful enough for this task. Usually I control these from the
commander either on a camera or one in a SB800 or SU800, and have the
SB200 run via the commander in manual mode using about a quarter of their
Nikon Creative Lighting.
You can use coloured filters/gels
on the flash units, either with the lights inside or by projecting them
onto the background from the front and using it as a reflector.
When using a HiLite background the objective
is to get the background white but not to get a lot of light spill
around and into the subject as this looks completely unnatural.
I have also used it successfully with the
mains flash system but I don't have as much control over the power of the
mains flash units, so balancing up the amount of light I get is more
In theory I should be
able to use it with the cool-lites, see
but I haven't tried, as these are large units and you need to get light
spread as well ,it might be tricky and easier to just shine them onto the
background and use it as a reflector.
Photos of it being put up - click on any image to see a larger version
|<< In its bag
Out of its bag
|<< allowed to spring out
Corner spacers added
|<< Corner spacer
Velcro'd on train >>
|<< stood up
with train fitted >>
|<< Edge zip (on all 4
sides). This is where the lights shine through
Inside reflective surface on right,
translucent on left, zip on other aide ahead >>
HiLite not lit,
Same as left but HiLite
now lit, eliminating shadows
The two images above of
the same group of models, shows the difference between lighting on or not.
the models are near to the background, even using softboxes, we have shadows in the image without the
HiLite being lit, while the lit image
has no shadows.
These images were
taken with 2 Nikon SB800's in
(softboxes), the lighting of the HiLite was done with 2 Nikon SB200's
running in manual mode with 1/8th of their power.
The HiLite can be used as a main
light source, it could be used side on to appear to give the soft light
from a window or higher power more like direct sunlight.
In the image on the right it is used as main light source behind the model, backlighting, with balanced
fill from softboxes in front.
It is also useful if you want to remove
the background as the white areas can be cropped away easily with software
like Photoshop CS3/CS4 or Elements.
You will find the HiLite used as a
background in many other articles on lighting as well as features on