In 2010, Jerry Ghionis, one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world, met with Westcott President Kelly Mondora for dinner. It was then that the concept of the Ice Light was born, leading up to its release in 2012. Designed by Ghionis and sculpted by Westcott, the light has since carved a name as one of the most versatile continuous lighting solutions for photographers and filmmakers across a vast variety of categories.
But now, the Ice Light 2 is here. Released late last year, it’s 50 percent brighter than its predecessor, patented with new LED technology, and armed with 1,740 lumens of beautiful daylight-balanced output. Packed into a compact housing and designed for hand-held portability, it weighs only 20 ounces with over 60 minutes of run time at full power.
We caught up with Ghionis to learn more about how the Ice Light 2 was crafted and to discuss some of the most creative ways image-makers are incorporating it into their lighting setups.
Can you give me some background on how the idea and design for the Ice Light came about? What has your experience been like bringing the Ice Light to life?
My favorite type of light is window light. But you don’t always have the luxury of shooting with window light everywhere you go or having a beautiful quality of light coming through a window. And when photographing my couples at night, I always enjoyed using street signs or storefront windows to light them. But there was nothing on the market that would achieve that type of lighting that I could use in any location. I’ve used many different video lights over the years but I was always frustrated that the lights available on the market didn’t have all the features that are useful to a photographer on location. I wrote out a “wish list” of the features an ideal continuous light would have and I approached Westcott to see if they would be interested in helping me create it. Westcott is indisputably one of the best companies in the lighting industry. It took several years from the initial concept to final production but that was because we wanted to get it just right.
These days, it’s important for every new product to fulfill some type of problem or need. What were you looking to address with the Ice Light 2?
The Ice Light has a few features that make it unique to anything else that has been created. It has a cylindrical shape and that’s particularly ideal for photographing people (since we are vertically shaped), whereas many other lights are square or round and produce a spotlight on your subject. Also, its design means that it can be used horizontally over your subject to create a softer quality of light or vertically to the side of your subject for a more specular quality of light.
The Ice Light is also daylight balanced but has a tungsten gel that you can snap on to warm the color temperature. There are also barn doors that you can snap on to control the direction of the light, and you can change the white balance on your camera while using an Ice Light to achieve different results as well.
Can you tell me about some of the upgrades made to the Ice Light 2?
The new Ice Light is actually 50 percent brighter than the original one. This was possible simply because LED technology is always improving. When the technology improved and allowed us to use brighter LED cells while still maintaining battery life of over an hour at a time, then we began using them. It makes quite a difference! One of the biggest requests from the original Ice Light was to have a removable lithium battery, and that is another improvement that we have made in the Ice Light 2. You have the ability to remove the battery, charge it externally and have back up batteries in your camera bag. We’ve also created an app that allows you to control the power output of the Ice Light via Bluetooth.
What’s currently your favorite way to use the Ice Light? scenarios would you personally use it most in, and what are some of the most unique ways you’ve seen other photographers using it?
At a wedding, I enjoy using it to photograph my couples at night, and my favorite use for it at the moment is to use two Ice Lights parallel to each other and horizontal to my bride to create clamshell lighting. It creates a beautiful quality of light that compliments everyone.
The portability of the Ice Light also makes it super versatile. What are some interesting scenarios you’ve seen other photographers using it?
It’s actually great in just about any situation. You can use it for headshots, newborn sessions, and it has even been used in music videos and on television for interviews. It’s also a great light to use for boudoir sessions as well—it’s very easy to see exactly where the shadows are falling when you are using a continuous light.
We’ve even seen it being used extensively in the film industry as well, and for interviews on the CBS Evening News. It was used recently in a documentary by the Smithsonian while in King Tut’s tomb. And just a couple of weeks ago, Sir David Attenborough was using it during a BBC documentary!
The Ice Light 2 is currently on sale for $50 off plus three free accessories. Visit the Westcott site to learn more, and in the meantime, watch Ghionis’ Ice Light Master Series of 20 videos below.