It sometimes doesn’t matter how good your camera equipment is or how great a photographer you are, you may end up getting disappointing shots if the lighting isn’t right for the setting.

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography and if you can master it there’s a good chance you’ll get to capture some excellent images along your photographic journey.

In fact, many studio photographers spend more money on lighting than they do on lenses and cameras, while the average person takes the opposite route.

Studio Lighting Basics

When it comes to studio lighting there are three basic types to choose from. These are cool lights, hot lights, and flash.

Hot lights are often referred to as tungsten lights and they’re basically called hot lights because they can get as hot as an oven.

This means you have to be careful around them because not only can you get burned from touching them, but they can also start fires.

They’re really just basic quartz halogen lights, usually between about 500 and 800. They’re also ideal for lighting if you plan on recording video. But while these lights can look pretty bright, they’re usually not strong enough for photographing people unless your ISO setting is high and the shutter speed is pretty slow.

The lights are sort of orange in color and don’t mix well with flash and/or daylight.

Cool lights are fluorescent and of course, they don’t get as hot, which makes them more comfortable for photographers to work with. In addition, there colour is pretty close to natural daylight and can be used with flash. Still, they don’t really have as much power as a flash and you often need the high ISO along with a slow shutter speed.

When it comes to photographing people, flash is still the best type of lighting for most studio photographers. It’s easy to use and has a lot of power with fewer limitations than hot and cool lights. There are two main types of flash which are hotshoe and studio flashes.

A hotshoe flash connects to your camera’s hotshoe. They’re easy to use, but the light is often harsh. The best way to use a hotshoe flash is to use it off the camera. You can fit it to a stand and can use more than one. If you want to diffuse the light, then it’s a good idea to use them in conjunction with an umbrella.

A hotshoe flash always fires off at full power and this can usually be reduced by shutting the flash off early. Each flash has to be set off with something like a radio trigger. These types of flashes are pretty useful, but are usually best for photographers who need to use flash while on the move, such as photojournalists.

To learn the ins and outs of all studio lighting you really need to do a bit of research as well as practice. There are so many options available and need to learn about power, consistency, firing methods, flash duration, and recycle time, etc.

Like many other things, it can seem a little complicated and intimidating at times. But once you get the hang of studio lighting you’ll gain confidence every time you use it.


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