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Photography Studio Lights Set Up

Updated on September 12, 2013
(CC BY 2.0
(CC BY 2.0 | Source

Studio Lights Set Up

Lights for the photography studio are different from portable flash units. They are much more powerful, are heavier, recycle faster, and off course are more expensive.

One main studio unit and some accessories are really all you need, unless you have a large studio, in which case two units would serve you better.

A photo studio can be set up almost anywhere, a spare room, the garage, a loft, a corner of your house, or the patio. My studio is nothing more than four heavy canvas walls under a porch. I chose the location because the porch has a high ceiling and a ceramic tile floor.

Main studio light. Usually a photo-flood or flash which provides the main source of illumination. Most are self contained with all of the controls in the rear of the unit. They can run on batteries or preferably connected to an electrical source.They are heavy and expensive but much more efficient and reliable than a camera mounted flash unit.

Most studios will also need to have at least one modeling light. This light is a simple photo flood light or even a halogen light which provides continuous illumination and give the photographer an idea of the lighting conditions that will be created when the flash is fired. They are mostly set up next to the main studio light just for this reason if they are not already part of the main light unit.

Slave flash units. They are units that react to the burst of light from the main flash unit via a sensor and add extra light or act as fill-in when needed. They are usually placed at a 90 degree angle from the main unit.

Studio lights can have several accessories attached to them to help guide the light to where the photographer wants it.

Barn doors are square plates that corral the light from the main unit or other light sources and direct the burst towards the subject. They can be widened to enlarge the lighted area or closed to shorten it.

Snoots. These are cone looking attachments that direct an ever decreasing beam of light to a specific part of the subject. Mostly used to highlight hair or backgrounds.

Softbox. They are box/square like covers, whose front element is cloth or other translucent material and are attached over the light source and have the effect of producing a softer light which in turn creates a more natural looking illumination that mimics indirect sunlight. With their use, the flash can be aimed directly towards the subject without the need of having to bounce the light.

Reflective umbrellas. Made specifically for photographic use, and you can easily make your own, are used to reflect light to the subject thus having a diffusing effect. They can be used alone as a reflector would be or with an attached flash unit aimed at the umbrella's interior to bounce light.

Focusing spot. Very similar to a snoot, their use is specialized for the creation of a narrow beam of light and mostly applied for special effects.

All your studio lights need a stand and when choosing one try to go for the sturdier ones with most just being sturdy tripods.

Studio kits are sold by several manufactures and range in price from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. Choose only what you need and add as the need increases.The most basic of kits go for about $149.00.

Paint your studio in non glossy colors, white to semi white is best, as most colors can produce a tint/cast on your photos. The same goes for the ceiling and floor. Have several electrical extension cords, power outlets, backgrounds, some props, backdrops, storage space and seating. If possible choose a location that has at least one window to allow sunlight.

Regular lights should be dimmed or turned off before taking the photo, unless they are photo lights to reduce the risk of producing color cast. Studio lights produce heat, especially halogen, so provide some sort of ventilation.

Many more tips ,ideas and projects!


© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • WarwickWyatt profile image

      WarwickWyatt 5 years ago from Hertfordshire, England, UK

      Hey Luis, this info is great as I was considering taking up photography for fitness soon and this tells me that I could achieve a decent basic level. Thanks very much.:-)

    • tim-tim profile image

      Priscilla Chan 6 years ago from Normal, Illinois

      I need all of those items! I am learning photography now and working with a mentor. Thanks for the informative hub!

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      As always a very informative and interesting hub....I sent this hub and one of your others to my dad....who used to be photographer for the newspapers.....voted up