There are two types of photography that are used commonly among studio photographers. These are strobe and continuous lighting. In this article we will run through the basics of what continuous lighting is and the differences between the two types.
Strobe Lighting or Continuous Lighting?
Strobe lighting is flash lighting while continuous lighting refers to household light bulbs, tungsten lights, fluorescent lights and others that are always on and lit. Some people do not recommend using continuous lighting when trying to photographic people or live subjects as it can become too hot for them since the light source is used close to the subjects and they could over heat or sweat which could create discomfort or an unsatisfactory shot.
Most modern studio strobes now come with equipped with a “modeling light” which acts as a continuous light bulb that is placed near the actual flash tube. This allows you to see exactly what your strobe lighting will look like. A modeling light allows you to setup your strobes precisely so that when you do flash them, you will get the same lighting as you see around you.
Elements of a Continuous Lighting Photography Kit
You can purchase a perfect continuous lighting photography kit complete with three stands, 3 bulbs, 3 utlets, 2 umbrellas and come in a carrying case so you can carry them around with you easily enough if you are going to a set off site of your main studio. Picking up a mini cord and multi outlet to help with making sure you can plug into any available electric source will also help.
Continuous lighting photography is used in Hollywood and professional photo shoots all over and they use heavier lights that pump out more heat than the average photographer buys. These professionals place the lights further away from the subjects and use various other tricks and equipment to help their subjects to not be fried under their care. This can be a costly expense though so many people tend to just use standard studio photography equipment which includes strobe lighting and the equipment that works the best with it.
Some photographers find that when working with continuous lighting photography equipment that they may end up having to deal with fixing color corrections even if they choose to use either film or digital. Strobe light is daylight balanced and does not have many of the same issues.
Choosing between Strobe Lighting and Tungsten Lights
If you will be working with children or with subjects where you find strobe lighting just isn’t the right fit, you can find inexpensive tungsten light sets that will not heat up or cause any of your subjects to sweat when working in a continuous lighting photography set up.
There are arguments between photographers from either sides of the board who say that one of these types may be preferable over the other. The simple truth is that it is all a matter of trial and error for each individual. Learning the basics of lighting, the equipment you can use to get the best results and how it all works together based on your subject matter and the desired final output.
Continuous lighting photography can result in some excellent shots if all elements are taken into consideration and made to work together. You may find when you go looking for photography or studio equipment that it may cost a little more to work with a continuous light setup but once again, it all depends on your budget and what you have in mind to photograph.