Best Headlamp for Night Photography
Adding a human figure to a night image helps ground the image to the earth. A silhouetted figure is heavy with visual weight and attracts your audience’s eyes. You can use that to help develop flow in your image by positioning the figure where you need the audience’s eyes to go. When you add a headlamp to a human figure, the once grounded silhouette now links with the bright stars. It’s a way to link the earth to the night sky. Not all headlamps are created equal when it comes to night photography. Due to the variation in the colors and the brightness of LED lights used in modern LED headlamps some headlamps are more suitable for night photography than others.
Understanding Lumen Ratings in Headlamps
The brightness of a headlamp is rated in lumen. The higher the number the brighter the light. For a light beam to show up in a night photo, the minimum lumen rating to look for is around 100. At 100 lumen the headlamp will appear like a beam, especially if there is any fog or haze in the sky. On nights that you can see your breath, you can also have your model exhale into the light beam to create a stronger beam.
LED lights vary in color and range from a deep blue to a warm fire-like glow. They can give different feels — you may have noticed this at your own house when you changed from incandescent lights to LED bulbs. If you didn’t pay attention, you might have ended up with a bright blue look instead of the warm glow of an incandescent. To avoid this, buy LED bulbs with color temps around 3000K. For outdoor lighting, LED bulbs with color temps less than 3000K create less light pollution.
The same is true for headlamps for night photography. If you want the warmth of a outdoor fire, pick a warm headlamp with a color temp of around 3000K. If you want a cold industrial look to your photo, pick one with a colder color temperature such as around 4000K. Unfortunately, headlamp manufacturers don’t label the color temps on headlamps, so it’s a bit of a guessing game.
Which Headlamp to Choose for Night Photography
I’ve experimented with multiple headlamps and found the following headlamps are the best for night photography. I like a headlamp that has a bit of blue, but not overwhelming blue. I also like about 100 lumen lights.
- Princeton Tec EOS 105 [Amazon link: http://amzn.to/248fjrq]: This light is warmer than others, but still has a nice blue flavor to it. At 105 lumen it’s bright enough to cast a good beam that doesn’t overpower the picture. It’s the light in the center photo below.
- Petzl Tikka + [Amazon link: http://amzn.to/1TowrW1]: This is a bluer light than the Princeton Tec, but it offers several modes that help shape the light. It also has a red light. The image on the left was created by an older version of this headlamp.
I still have a few spaces available on my Night Skies of the Gunflint Trail. If you’d like to learn more about night photography this workshop is for you. I also opened up a second Spring Waterfall Workshop. This is a fantastic workshop to see the waterfalls rage as the snow melts off. Standing next to the waterfalls in spring feels like the ground is thundering. The high water levels makes for photos that show the north shore rivers at levels that feel like they could have carved the canyons out of the volcanic rock.