Photography Studio Lighting

"With the right photography studio lighting, proper filters, and back drops, anyone can make great studio shots."



If you want to start a photography business for either portraits, advertising, or just if you want to do it as a hobby, you will need a good studio with the proper lighting to make your studio shots come out.

Lighting is very important. You cannot just use any kind of lighting for your studio. The one thing you need to realize when you set up your lights is that like heat, light is also measured in temperature.

No, lights do not measure in the same scale of temperature as heat or cold, in either Fahrenheit or Celsius, but Kalvin. Kalvin is the temperature scale that is used for measuring light. The Kalvin scale is different from the average Fahrenheit or Celsius scale. For example, Kalvin does not have a freezing mark, whereas with Fahrenheit measures freezing at 32 degrees and Celsius measures freezing at 0 degrees, likewise boiling at Celsius is 100 degrees and Fahrenheit 212 degrees. Kalvin is different. The Kalvin scale measures light by how cold or hot it is.

One thing that might confuse you with the Kalvin scale is that the colors that we usually associate as "warm tones" or "warm colors," are actually the cooler colors on the Kalvin. The colors that are referred to as "cool tones," on the other hand are hotter on the Kalvin scale.

For example, red and orange light normally ranges from 1000 to 4000 degrees Kalvin or 1000 to 4000K. Ideal studio lights are true white light, which simulates daylight would usually burn at 5500K. The hotter lights, which burn in a blue color range from 6000 to 7500K.

Color temperature is very important for photography studio lighting. Don't think that your average 100 watt incandescent lightbulb will not work to provide the right lighting in your studio. This is because the color temperature of most of your average household incandescent lights burn at about 1000 to 3000K. This will give your photographs an over-dominating reddish tone.

Though you might like a nice warm tone for some of your photos,

I personally love warm tones, however, having an over-dominating reddish or orange tone is also not good and does not look professional.

Fluorescent lights of any kind should be avoided all together, even those so-called warm-tone fluorescent lights have too hot of a color temperature that will cause your photographs to have an awful over-dominating green tone that even some of the best color filters can't eliminate entirely.

Lights Needed for Proper
Photography Studio Lighting

There are two different types of lights that professional studio photographers use in their studios.

The best are halogen lights. Halogen lights are now the most commonly used studio lights because halogen lights burn at 5000 to 5400K which is as close to natural daylight that an artificial light can get.

There is also an incandescent studio lamp available as well. This lamp is known as a Tungsten lamp.

A Tungsten lightbulb is a lightbulb that has a special coating on the glass to minimize the warm tone coming out from the bulb. Most Tungsten lights are a minimum of 250 watts for studio uses.

The only thing you need to know about Tungsten lights is that because they are a high-grade incandescent light, they still burn cooler than a halogen lamp.

The average Tungsten light burns at about 2500 to 3000K, so you would need a corrective filter for your camera. Most cameras that are outfitted for photography studio lighting come with special Tungsten filters.

If you are using a basic 35mm SLR camera, you can get different sized filters for Tungsten lights or if you use the Kokin Filter System, you can save a lot of room in your filter storage area. This is because Kokin has a filter cash that has threaded rings that can screw onto your camera’s lens and the filters just slide into the rails on the filter cash.

A Tungsten filter is actually a slightly blue piece of glass which has just the right amount of blue to balance off the orange light given off by the Tungsten light. If you use a digital camera and do not have a Tungsten filter, you can always correct the color of your photograph on a professional photo editing program such as Photoshop or Aperture.

Halogen is a much better for photography studio lighting than the Tungsten light because with the color temperature being at 5000 to 5400K, this light gives the closest to natural daylight as possible. There are several different types of halogen lights available for your studio.

Many halogen lights are usually used in combination with a reflective umbrella or a special diffuser. Other halogen lights use barn doors to direct the light to the subject that is being photographed.

Umbrellas are usually used as either reflectors or diffusers. A reflector umbrella is mainly used in a studio as back lighting. For example, if you are doing a portrait, back lighting is used to highlight the hair or other accents of the person being photographed.

Usually the reflector umbrella light is positioned to the side of the subject and the halogen lamp faces the umbrella. The light from the lamp is reflected off of the umbrella and is shined towards the lit area in the studio.

A diffuser umbrella is actually a special umbrella that is placed in front of the lamp in order to diffuse the light and spread it out to fill the lit area. Usually the diffused light is used as the main lighting. Most of the diffused lights are set to flash as the camera takes the shot, since the diffusing material is rather thin and halogen lambs do give off a lot of heat.

Barn doors is another device used for directing light. Barn doors are these black metal flaps that are affixed to the studio lamp. The barn doors can be adjusted to direct the light to a certain direction and can basically make the studio lamp into a directional spotlight. These lights covered above provide the best photography studio lighting.

Anytime you want to make a good studio shot, be it portraits, advertising, etc., you need to know not only the basics of good photography and composition. Your photography studio lighting is just as important. Lighting is what makes the photo come out.

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