Many people are daunted by the idea of
taking photographs in the studio. But generally speaking, the majority
find that handling studio lights is an easy skill to pick up.
Look through various magazines which
feature pictures taken in a studio. The lighting techniques are as
varied as the subjects they light. In some only one light is used, in
others five or more.
The least expensive light available is a
photoflood with a reflector and stand. But many people find the glare
and heat from such light uncomfortable. An alternative is studio flash.
The unit work form the mains and are much more powerful than a camera’s
built in flash unit or one that fits onto a camera hot shoe. Each unit
has its own power supply; some of the most powerful have attachments
for additional flash heads.
As well as the standard reflector there
is a whole variety of different attachments that can alter the
character of the light. These include large umbrella type reflectors in
white, silver or gold, which bounce diffused light onto the subject,
giving a softer light than a standard reflector.
An even softer light can be obtained by
using a ‘softbox’. These come in various sizes, but all work on the
same principle. The box fits over the flash head. It has a highly
reflective silver lining, and a diffusing material stretched over the
front. Other diffusers can be stretched over the first one to diffuse
the light even further.
Another lighting attachment is called a
‘snoot’. This directs a thin beam of light onto the subjects. It is not
the same as conventional spotlight, which has a broader beam which can
be focused. Spotlights can also have inserts placed between the lamp
and the lens, which throw patterns onto the lit area.
As with all accessories, special lights
have to be used carefully and creatively. Used by themselves they will
not produce miracles.