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Photography - A Beginners Guide to Studio Lighting by Chris Burfoot

Photography - A Beginners Guide to Studio Lighting by Chris Burfoot

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Published by: BalintKiss on Dec 20, 2008
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06/02/2013

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Your Guide To Better Pictures...
... A Beginners Guide To Studio Lighting
By Chris Burfoot 
 A.M.P.A. A.R.P.S. A.S.W.P.P.
 
©2005In Association With:
TFC COURSES
 
1
What Type Of Light? - Tungsten Vs. Flash
Traditionally, continuous lighting was always used in studio situations. However, in more recent  years and in the vast majority of studios, electronic flash is now the norm.Tungsten (continuous) light has the advantage of being a little less expensive than flash, but unfortunately the many drawbacks out-weigh this.The main problem with tungsten light is that it generates more heat than light, the colour of thelight it produces is very yellow and it gets worse as the bulb ages. This means that you have touse either a tungsten balanced film or a filter on your camera to compensate. There is also a very limited range of accessories. Anyone who has spent any time either side of the camera with tungsten light will know all about the heat it produces. Thiscan make your subject very uncomfort-able and due to the brightness, causesthe iris of the eye to close right down. It isoften the case that eyes look more attrac-tive with a larger pupil.The disadvantage of using a standard on-camera type flashgun is that you can’t see the lightinguntil you get your photos back! Studio flash overcomes this problem by using a modelling lamp which should mimic the light pro-duced by the flash tube. This enables you to set up your lighting with the confidence of being ableto see what you are going to get! - WYSIWYG - What you see is what you get! However, various makes of studio flash have modelling lamps which are not always equal. I havealways used the Prolinca/Elinchrom system because of the advantages they give me. Firstly themodelling lamp bulb is exactly in the centre of the flash tube and almost the same size. This meansthat the modelling light is virtually identical to the flash - WYSIWYG!  Another big plus of this system is the huge range of accessories, the secure accessory fitting and the performance of the flash. The flash duration is very fast, typically over 1/2000th sec. This meansthat not only will it freeze action, but there are no problems mixing the flash with daylight, and using a fast shutter speed. Recycling times are also very fast, generally less than a second! So I never miss a shot! Big problems can occur if your shutter is faster than the flash! 
With bright tungsten light the iris closes right down.With flash the iris does not react fast enough to be a problem.
 
2
What Do I Need To Buy? 
You can start off with a very basic outfit. Pictured here is a One Head Starter Set. It consists of a flash head, a stand, a reflector and a small softbox. Wewill discuss the use of softboxes later, but this will give you the basics toenable you to produce very acceptable portraits of your family or friends.This one head starter sets start from a little over £200 + Vat. Once you progress onto using more heads, a Flashmeter becomes necessary - see page 16 for an overview of using one.OK, lets have a brief look at how a studio flash head works and what youcan do with a single head.If you look at the front of a studio flash head you will see a flash tube - onthis Elinchrom example, the tube is the circular one with a modelling lampin the centre. (The higher output 250w Halolux is fitted to this head.)The modelling lamp provides a continuous light so that you can see theeffect you are creating.The flash tube on the standard head is horseshoe shaped with a terminal on each end. The glass envelope is filled with a non-conductive gas and wrapped around this is a trigger wire. The flash energy is stored in capaci-tors within the main body. Voltages are extremely high so never take oneapart! When the flash is fired a 25,000 volt charge is run through the trigger wireionising the gas. This allows the power to pass between the terminalsand in doing so, energy is released in the form of heat and light. All this happens in around 1/2000th second! I am sure that there are occasions when it is very convenient to popa flash on top of your camera and yes, this is the way camera manu-facturers design them to work. The trouble is that it’s probably theworst place to put it! Light from the camera position causes many problems. Firstly youcan see the very unattractive “Red-Eye”. This is caused by the flashreflecting off the rear surface of the eye. Secondly it gives a heavy shadow on the wall behind the subject and thirdly it has produced a very flat light that shows noshape or substance to the subject. Because the flash is a very small light source it is also a very hard light source. We will talk later of hard and soft lighting effects.
How Does A Flash Work? Let’s Take Some Pictures
Taken with on-camera flash - Red-eyeand shadows - yuk! 

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