iPad Photoshoot
Nov 04, 2010

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A restless mind… or maybe too much late night pizza has you laying awake in bed. You decide that if you can’t sleep you might as well do something productive, so you fumble in the darkness for your iPad for one more round of Angry Birds. You power up and are instantly struck blind by a beam of light so bright that it burns “slide to unlock” into your retinas. You squint, roaches scatter, wife stirs, “Damn, that’s bright.”

Sound familiar? This happens to me too often. Eventually, it dawned on me that, given the right context, the iPad screen is actually pretty bright. I know that for a fact because I measured it with my light meter (1/60, f1.4 at ISO800 from about 1.5 feet). You know once the light meter has come out of the bag, there’s no going back. Naturally, we needed to do a photoshoot using iPads as the light source.

Luckily, I have friends who are very generous with their time and electronics and was able to scrounge up nine iPads. I mounted them onto plywood using some cheap hardware store brackets. This gave me three lights consisting of three iPads each. The light from an iPad is quite soft and diffuse. This makes the light fall-off steep. Adding more iPads didn’t translate to more brightness, but did mean we could light a larger area. Since the ‘Pads would need to be used somewhat close to the subject to get enough exposure, a simple, portrait style shoot seemed like the best option.

Now before the haters start commenting let me first agree with you, yes, this is totally impractical (sidenote: most of my best ideas are often also my worst ideas). Nine iPads will set you back around $4,500. That amount of money can buy you a LOT of lumens in the form of a generic monobloc. This is not intended to be an exercise in excess, but rather a self-imposed limitation to help flex the creative muscles, and to make a point.

Think about it. One 60 watt bulb can put out more light that a truckload of iPads. And you don’t have to spend truckloads of cash to find a 60 watt. This whole making art thing is all about what you do with what you have. We just happened to have a bunch of iPads laying around so we went with that. Today’s dSLR sensors are sensitive enough that you could easily do this with some flashlights, headlights, headlamps, real lamps, or even – heaven forbid – real strobes! Now go forth and do!

Props:
Model – Miranda Hull
Make up – Michelle Gallagher
Hair – Joanna Montemayor
iPad Propagator – Josh Markle
iPad Wranglers – Derek Sine, Corey Jindra
Videographer – Tyler Faires
Miracle Worker – Lyn Rosten

106 Responses to “iPad Photoshoot”

  1. Ryan Prouty says:

    Nice vid + photos + concept.

    Especially like the sound design.

    Great work as always, Mr. Rosten.

  2. Derek Sine says:

    Stay Gold!

  3. Lucinda Chrisman says:

    I loved it. Hilarious and creative. Good job!

  4. Eric Stewart says:

    “We just happened to have a bunch of iPads laying around so we went with that.” Who has 9 iPads just “laying around”? That’s crazy…

  5. Steve Farrant says:

    Ben would have been so jazzed Jesse! Glad to see the creative juices flowing strong!

  6. Josh Carlson says:

    I always use my Droid messaging screen as a flashlight to close the chicken coop up at night, but I never had the idea to do a photo shoot with a bunch of them secured to panels of plywood. You beat me to that one, Jesse.

  7. Heather A says:

    & there you go again, Mr. Genius!! WHOA! Absolutely incredible!!!
    My fave would be picture 8 and the ipad catchlights! Brilliant!!!!
    I’ll be the first to sign up when you host a lighting workshop! :)

  8. AJ says:

    Brilliant. :) On so many levels.

  9. [...] using 9 iPads (worth a cool $4,500) on maximum brightness on a recent photoshoot. On his blog, he writes, Now before the haters start commenting let me first agree with you, yes, this is totally [...]

  10. [...] Jesse Rosten got his hands on $4500 worth of iPads and decided to do a photoshoot with them. You may be thinking that this is totally pointless and for stills I might have to agree that this is overkill but a single iPad could be used to add softlight to extremely low lit scenes; something a small strobe could never do. An iPad can also change color temperature to match the ambient light around it. I see this being used more for video that stills anyway. Don’t believe me? Well you can buy this light panel for $500 and I’ll stick to my iPad. [...]

  11. [...] animas?Continue reading Strobist con nueve iPads: Iluminación de alto coste a la vez que efectivaRead | Permalink | Email [...]

  12. [...] animas?Continue reading Strobist con nueve iPads: Iluminación de alto coste a la vez que efectivaRead | Permalink | Email [...]

  13. Holly says:

    Awesome! I think you achieved a beautiful result using the iPads as a light source, location resulted in nice bokeh (shooting with the Canon 85 f1.2L or ?), beautiful model, glad I saw this tweeted!

  14. Wauw! I love the six catchlights in the last portrait. Yes, you could replace this whole idea with monoblocks etc… but I really think this portrait with those catchlights is VERY unique! Awesome!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  15. [...] adora fazer experiências com o iPad, decidiu que o aparelho da Apple pode ser usado também como iluminação de estúdio. Isso mesmo, nada de Leds, flash ou lâmpadas de tungstênio. O lance aqui é usar iPads, afinal de [...]

  16. [...] jesserosten via macenstein #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } [...]

  17. Martin says:

    I did something similar many years ago. I used Tupperware boxes with conventional light bulbs in them with excellent results.

  18. jesse says:

    Martin, thanks for saying that. THAT is exactly the reason for making this post. It’s all about getting results with what you have. iPads, or otherwise.

  19. Amazing. You have 9 iPads just lying around?! How about you donate/send me one of those!? :(

  20. [...] one of my favorite sources of inspiration for all things camera and video, came up with the idea of lighting an entire shoot with iPads. Turns out, he broke out the meter and at ISO800 1/60, he came up with f1.4, which is do-able, [...]

  21. [...] mało praktyczne, a przede wszystkim strasznie drogie choć ciekawe. Filmowiec Jesse Rosten zauważył, że iPad jest całkiem niezłym źródłem miękkiego światła. Postanowił więc w [...]

  22. [...] adora fazer experiências com o iPad, decidiu que o aparelho da Apple pode ser usado também como iluminação de estúdio. Isso mesmo, nada de Leds, flash ou lâmpadas de tungstênio. O lance aqui é usar iPads, afinal de [...]

  23. [...] Jesse Rosten got his hands on $4500 worth of iPads and decided to do a photoshoot with them. You may be thinking that this is totally pointless and for stills I might have to agree that this is overkill but a single iPad could be used to add softlight to extremely low lit scenes; something a small strobe could never do. An iPad can also change color temperature to match the ambient light around it. I see this being used more for video that stills anyway. Don’t believe me? Well you can buy this light panel for $500 and I’ll stick to my iPad. http://www.vimeo.com/16513644 [...]

  24. [...] to read more: jesserosten.com/​2010/​ipad-photoshoot [...]

  25. [...] utilizado el iPad como fuente de luz para crearnlight painting, ahora tenemos este video hecho por Jesse Rosten donde utiliza un iPad para iluminar una serie de retratos con muy buen resultado, la verdad esto [...]

  26. Ole says:

    This is so awesome.

  27. [...] a photo shoot, let alone ask a bunch of friends to donate theirs to the cause.That’s where Jesse Rosten is different.With $4500.00 worth of iPads, some plywood, and some cheap parts from a hardware [...]

  28. [...] mer på bloggen til fotografen Jesse [...]

  29. [...] de luz válida, con el que se obtienen buenos resultados. Os dejo con un vídeo donde el fotógrafo Jesse Rosten realiza una sesión, iluminando a una modelo con paneles caseros donde se montan diversos [...]

  30. Elmo says:

    HAH!

    Funny, but stupid :) .

    Overkill stuff are great!

  31. [...] Jesse Rosten managed to do a complete portrait shoot using 9 iPads as lighting sources. A bit of a pricey solution since 9 iPads will set you back $ 4,500 but still an interesting [...]

  32. [...] PetaPixel Original: iPad Photoshoot blog comments powered by Disqus [...]

  33. [...] an interesting way to use 9 iPads. Photographer Jesse Rosten mounted the set on several pieces of plywood, maxed out the brightness on each and had assistants move then around while he shot his model. In [...]

  34. camelsnot says:

    Absolutely stupid. Really what was the point other than to give $teve Job$ a woody, knowing you wasted money on a multitude of ipads knowing full well you have a full light kit. It’s amazing how people are going to the ends of the normal spectrum just to justify an ipad’s use. Here’s one more.. a tv tray for sushi. Yes.. flip it over while sitting on the couch and eat sushi off of it. Why not make a stupid video about that? It’s no lamer than this.

  35. Kari says:

    I LOOOVE THIS, it really makes you think outside the box-very inspiring, thanks for sharing your creativity!

  36. Zak says:

    I don’t understand how using 9 ipads is limiting. Maybe I don’t know enough about lighting, but this seems more like a gimmick than anything. Had you guys used one or two ipads it would seem more like making something out of nothing, but as it is it looks like spending a wild amount of money on a somewhat interesting idea. I’m sure you could do a shoot using only display panels from car stereos if you were allowed to use 200 of them, too. That would be strange and impractical, also.

  37. [...] on each and use it as a light source for a photo shoot, which is exactly what photographer Jesse Rosten has done. It’s an obvious publicity stunt, but it’s a cool idea nonetheless and you can [...]

  38. [...] an interesting way to use 9 iPads. Photographer Jesse Rosten mounted the set on several pieces of plywood, maxed out the brightness on each and had assistants move then around while he shot his model. In [...]

  39. [...] on each and use it as a light source for a photo shoot, which is exactly what photographer Jesse Rosten has done. It’s an obvious publicity stunt, but it’s a cool idea nonetheless and you can [...]

  40. [...] [via] Tweet MarcoIch mache derzeit eine Ausbildung als Fachinformatiker und bin nebenbei Online-Redakteur. Mit meinen Kollegen verfasse ich hier unter anderem News und Reviews, damit ihr stets auf dem Laufenden seid. [...]

  41. [...] Watch the video below, and read Jesse’s thought on the shoot and see some photos here. [...]

  42. Benny says:

    Must be the most expensive and not very durable lightsource ever! But thanx for showing the way to use an Ipad in business environment!

  43. [...] brightness) and what he has done with it is really impressive! Read more about this shoot over at Jesse’s blog. alternative lighting, Apple, ipad, off-camera [...]

  44. [...] the guy that brought you the iPad + Velco film that was featured on the Apple website comes the story of the iPad photoshoot — ever seen anyone use iPads as a light source? You have [...]

  45. Well done. I see a few of the haters skipped the actual write up from your post, but let’s have them answer this…
    When was the last time the played a 3×3-matrixed-9-handed-synchronized game of Angry Birds on a ProFoto or Broncolor?
    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  46. [...] recently came across this video by filmmaker Jesse Rosten. Even though I bought a new flash the other day; I think I may sell it [...]

  47. mac says:

    Hi, i love the song in this video, can you tell me what’s the songs name and the name of the artist? thanks a lot!

  48. jesse says:

    “Kamera” by Wilco.

  49. [...] See more details about the shoot on Jesse Rosten’s website: http://jesserosten.com/2010/ipad-photoshoot [...]

  50. [...] See more details about the shoot on Jesse Rosten’s website: http://jesserosten.com/2010/ipad-photoshoot [...]

  51. [...] Jesse Rosten uses a set of iPads as a Studio Lighting System. You might ask now why? — Because it can be done! [...]

  52. [...] (he measured) he figured the idea wasn’t half bad. And it worked, even though Rosten fully admits it’s impractical — it’s not as if this is the wave of the future given the ease [...]

  53. Dan P says:

    Haha I really admire that you go through with your ideas. That’s partly.. actually I guess it’s a pretty big reason for why I follow you.

    I was expecting you to ‘gel’ some of them different colors though. ;)

  54. [...] Jesse Rosten montre dans cette vidéo que l’Ipad peut aussi servir d’éclairage lors d’un shoot Photo. Un poil cher, mais efficace non? ^^ [...]

  55. [...] an interesting way to use 9 iPads. Photographer Jesse Rosten mounted the set on several pieces of plywood, maxed out the brightness on each and had assistants move then around while he shot his model. In [...]

  56. Stupidest thing I’ve ever seen!!!!

  57. Zohre says:

    So creative and amazing!
    Thanks for sharing! :)

  58. [...] iPad costerebbero circa 4500$” scrive Rosten nel suo blog; “Con quella somma si possono comprare un bel po’ di lumen sotto forma di generica monolight. [...]

  59. [...] креативный подход к съемке – и ему это удалось. [jesserosten.com via Дмитрий Веремейкин.] Без комментариев Просмотров [...]

  60. [...] креативный подход к съемке – и ему это удалось. [jesserosten.com via Дмитрий Веремейкин.] Без комментариев Просмотров [...]

  61. [...] отношение к съемке – и ему сие посчастливилось. [jesserosten.com via Димунчик Веремейкин.] Опубликовал admin в iPhone [...]

  62. Rich Smith says:

    Brilliant results. I’ve always thought my iPad threw out a decent amount of light.
    Threw me off when the model said she had fun because she looked beyond awkward the whole time.

  63. jesse says:

    She’s just a little shy. No models or crew were emotionally or physically harmed during this shoot :)

  64. Good idea and nice location!

  65. Patrick Hall says:

    Ah just realized you are the iPad lighting guy haha! Lee Morris became the iphone photoshoot guy so I guess you two have a similar thing going on :)

  66. [...] крeaтивный приказ к съемке – и ему это подвезло. [jesserosten.com via Митёк Веремейкин.] Опубликовал admin в iPhone [...]

  67. [...] di Jesse Rosten e del suo set fotografico davvero particolare è quello che da noi si chiama creatività. Pura e [...]

  68. [...] iPads als Lichtquelle verwendet wurden. Die ganze Geschichte rund um dieses Foto Shooting kann man auf seinen Blog nachlesen! Aber wirklich eine originelle Idee, die mir sehr gut gefallen [...]

  69. [...] Freaks. Ein Photoshooting mit iPads als Lichtquellen. Die haben scheinbar zu viel Geld. Hier der Blogartikel [...]

  70. [...] 1. Ein Fotoshooting, welches nur mit iPads beleuchtet wurde! Sehenswert! LINK [...]

  71. Michelle says:

    Do you work for Apple?… you should. :) I’ve only seen this and the one called “i-Pad + Velcro = Love” but I think you’d be a great plus to their advertising department. Both videos have made me want to buy one and I’ve been a life-long Windows girl. ;) You have that out-of-the-box thinking, quality production, clear vision of a goal, and dash of humor that is a killer combination. Keep it up. I look forward to more. K… I’ll stop drooling now. lol

  72. Tian says:

    Very cool. Great model, too.

  73. [...] Jesse Rosten montre dans cette vidéo que l’Ipad peut aussi servir d’éclairage lors d’un shoot Photo. Un poil cher, mais efficace non? ^^ [...]

  74. [...] mehr über das Shooting erfahren möchte, findet bei Jesse Rosten alle [...]

  75. Jess and Ian Leslie says:

    Bwahahahaha! Dont listen to the trolls, Jesse. They fail to realize the whole point of something like this (and all your art, I would guess) is to have fun doing something you love! We looked you up ’cause Ian saw your vid on the iPad website and we thought, I wonder what that guy is up to. Now we know :) Hope you and Lyn are well. See you at the 20 yr reunion!

  76. [...] Ugyan nem egy új hír, de azért megosztom veletek. Jesse Rosten 9db iPad-et használt fel a stúdiófénynek. A teljes fényerőn világító iPad-ek tulajdonképpen 4500 dollárnyi világítást adtak. Talán lehetett volna olcsóbb megoldást is találni, de gratulálunk az ötlethez. http://jesserosten.com/2010/ipad-photoshoot [...]

  77. [...] Ugyan nem egy új hír, de azért megosztom veletek. Jesse Rosten 9db iPad-et használt fel a stúdiófénynek. A teljes fényerőn világító iPad-ek tulajdonképpen 4500 dollárnyi világítást adtak. Talán lehetett volna olcsóbb megoldást is találni, de gratulálunk az ötlethez. http://jesserosten.com/2010/ipad-photoshoot [...]

  78. [...] heute die App Photo Soft Box Pro HD. Bereits vor einiger Zeit stolperte ich über einen Beitrag von Jesse Rosten, in welchem er von seinem ersten Fotoshooting mit iPads erzählt. Dabei wurden die kleinen Tablets [...]

  79. Sitka says:

    Hi there,
    I’m curious about the location of this photo shoot… where were these photos taken? They weren’t taken at an old semi-abandoned theater in Dunsmuir, by any chance?

    great photos! cool idea w/ the ipad!

  80. [...] Jesse Rosten: iPad Photoshoot [...]

  81. [...] an interesting way to use 9 iPads. Photographer Jesse Rosten mounted the set on several pieces of plywood, maxed out the brightness on each and had assistants move then around while he shot his model. In [...]

  82. Jesse,

    I’ve become a great fan of your – after the Jet Pack, after the tremendous movie Cart, you come with a tongue in the cheek light fixture. Great personality and a fantastic creative mind. the quality of your videos is stunning.

    Blaise

  83. Brad says:

    Brilliant! I can actually see this as a practical solution in several situations. We own a dozen litepanels 1×1 and they cost more then the ipad (yes, they are brighter) and aren’t battery operated unless you invest more money and bulk. Love the rube goldberg touch.

  84. [...] This video was brought to our attention by our Melbourne connection, photographer Normz Roxas.  Check it out, using iPADs as studio lighting for a photoshoot.  Very interesting concept, want to know more?  Click here. [...]

  85. [...] iPad Photoshoot [Jesse Rosten via Vimeo via CrunchGear] [...]

  86. [...] Great photography is all about utilizing the light around you in a great way. What if you just happened to wrangle up 9 iPads like Northern California photographer Jesse Rosten and friends did a few months ago? You’d have a creative, but not so practical photoshoot. With a cost of around $4500, 9 iPads may not be the direction you’d want to go, but if you can borrow them, have at it. Jesse and crew created 3 rigs of 3 iPads a piece to show that the iPads set to full brightness could create a pretty nice light for a photoshoot. Read more about Jesse’s iPad photoshoot on his blog. [...]

  87. [...] the F-Stoppers that you can use any camera for anything (including iPhones for fashion shoots and iPads for lighting). And contrary to Chase’s view as well, since he is the force behind the notion of “the [...]

  88. [...] iPad Photoshoot by Jesse Rosten 49 Rate this App Thanks! An error occurred! Tweet Jesse Rosten photographs a hot girl using iPads as lighting. Read more about this shoot here:jesserosten.com/​2010/​ipad-photoshoot [...]

  89. [...] as a mobile portfolio, a reference tool, and even as – yes, we’re serious – a light source for photography. Some enterprising photographers have released their own apps for instructional purposes and one [...]

  90. Nive SGS says:

    Craziesst!!

  91. Roy says:

    and when the batteries goes out, you can use iPads as paperweights too! That’s how useful iPads are, well maybe besides looking good with them.

  92. [...] jesserosten.com/2010/ipad-photoshoot 0 Do you like it? Share it!Tweet Do you like it? Share it!Tweet Tags: image, video, youtube. [...]

  93. [...] more about the shooting and the motivation behind at Jesse’s blog. This entry was tagged Photography. Bookmark the [...]

  94. [...] View article:iPad Photoshoot – Jesse Rosten – Filmmaker and Commercial Director [...]

  95. [...] always the way isn’t it?). A quick Google search of “iPad photo shoot” bought up Jesse Rosten. I didn’t actually expect to be the first photographer to try this, but I’m still [...]

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