Urban Exploration is an important source of subjects for my mobile photography. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, URBEX is the love of visiting abandoned places and buildings, under the motto: “Take with you only images, leave only your footprints.”
Man’s abandonment and Nature’s recapture, reclaiming the buildings as its own, are the source of a melancholic and often dramatic poetry that can arouse strong emotions.
As much as the iPhone 6 may boast, as compared to earlier Apple models, a sensor that is much more advanced and high-performance in low light conditions, it is obvious that the main technical problem with taking pictures inside abandoned buildings is the lack of light.
The LED flash in the iPhone can be used for a selfie or an snap-shot, but in a large room that is either dark or barely lit through closed shutters, it can do very little.
The solution, for those who don’t want to carry with them the full photo shoot kit, is to use a portable LED light, such as a Manfrotto LUMIE.
LUMIE is a powerful, compact (it fits in your pocket) LED spotlight, rechargeable via USB with a good battery life (60 minutes actual use, field-tested) and a very natural light with a temperature of 5600 K. The brightness can be adjusted to obtain the desired light intensity.
For my field test, I chose to use the LUMIE Muse, the most powerful version of the three available (550 lux); the others are called Art and Play.
Each LUMIE light comes with a USB cable for recharging, a tripod mount and ball head attachment for reflex cameras and a set of coloured filters.
The LUMIE light range can be viewed here.
For my photo shoot, I chose an abandoned country villa, obviously without electricity. Inside, despite the light from the late morning sun, the brightness varied only from partially lit to total darkness. All of the images are taken with an iPhone 6 and the only additional lighting came from the LUMIE Muse.
Even when the environment you are photographing is sufficiently well-lit, a fixed light source allows you to “fill” the shadows, as with these built-in shelves in the villa entrance hall. The option of adjusting the light intensity (in 5 stages) allows you to find the right level of brightness, so that you don’t notice any artificial light in the photograph.
This dark corridor demonstrates the power of the LUMIE even in a space of some size. The light is powerful and natural, without any dominant colours.
Even in an environment that is in almost total darkness, LUMIE manages to “shed light” on the subject, in this case enabling me to capture this antique wall decoration.
Without LUMIE, it would have been impossible to do justice to this backlit room with its artistic invasion of climbing plants.
The option of adjusting the brightness in several stages also allows you to take delicate shots, such as this one.
LUMIE stepped up to the task in terms of its various features and proved to be an excellent aid for my photo shoot. I was impressed by its power, robustness, “pocketability” and quality of light; despite the fact that it is an article made for the consumer market, it has the characteristics of a pro accessory.
From now on, it will be my permanent travel companion, not only for my urbex trips, but for any photo shoot I do; I can see being very useful for portraits and as a filler flash outdoors on a sunny day.
Davide Capponi is a photographer who is passionate about mobile photography and image editing. His works have been exhibited in Italy and abroad and published in Italian newspapers and magazines. He is a founding member of the New Era Museum, neweramuseum.org. You can contact David via his blog davidecapponi.com, on Instagram instagram.com/rubicorno, on Facebook www.facebook.com/davidecapponi.iphoneography and on Twitter twitter.com/Rubicorno.