Tip #175: Lighting Tricks with Your Cell Phone

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #175: Lighting Tricks with Your Cell Phone

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

A lighting kit is better, but a cell phone can salvage a shoot.

Create low-key mood lighting with an iPhone.
An iPhone can create great mood lighting.

Topic $TipTopic These lighting tips first appeared in PremiumBeat. While you never want to rely on your cell phone as the primary light source, here are some ideas you can use in a pinch.

  1. Moody lighting. Make the room as dark as possible. Search for an image of a solid color on the web, say, the color blue. Save it to Photos, then display that image full screen (as a saved photo) on your phone. Ta-DAH! Instant blue light.
  2. Use your flashlight. Prop your phone on a desk or table. Turn on the flashlight. Works great as a backlight. Bounce it off a wall or white foam core as a fill light.
  3. Quick softbox. Find an image on the web that’s all white. Save it to Photos, then display it as a full-screen image. instant softlight. It won’t light a big area, but it can give you a key in a pinch.
  4. Gaffer tape the phone to the ceiling. Put some gel over it to give it a color.
  5. Shine your light through a bottle of mouthwash or any other clear glass container containing colored liquid.


Just to state the obvious, be sure to pick a phone that won’t break your heart if it falls, gets taped or gets wet.

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2 replies
  1. Martin Simmons
    Martin Simmons says:

    Whenever you do this, remember to turn off the vibrations, ringer & all sounds, including alarms. Even if the production is not recording audio, a phone ringing or vibrating while taped to the ceiling is still very distracting!


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