Glamour lighting with strobes Print
Written by Jay Allan   
Saturday, 03 January 2009 00:15

Part One: What Are Strobes?

The most common type of lighting for taking glamour images is the use of flash light, or Strobes. This type of light, while based on the same technology, is not to be confused with the type of flash that you affix to the top of your camera. For the purpose of this article we are talking about off camera flash. I shoot a lot of magazine sets with strobes. This lights give out a white light compared to tungsten lamps. They can therefore be easily mixed with daylight which is nearly the same color temperature.


Kylie Wilde Shot with Strobes 12/08


Strobes give of an instantaneous flash of light that happens within about 1/100 of a second. They are powered by a capacitor that collects 110 or 220 volts, up-converts it to about 10,000 volts, and lets it all out at once when it is triggered.

With flash you can have a really powerful light source that is fairly compact and gives off very little heat. With tungsten lamps (also know as Hot Lights for some reason) you would have to have lamps in the 1000 watt to 5000 watt range to match the light output if a basic 600ws strobe head. Since the tungsten are on continuously they give of lots of heat. Enough to melt softboxes etc! Strobe power is measure in watt-seconds such as 1200ws. There is no relative comparison (that I know of) to other light sources, but if you double the power rating IE 600ws to 1200ws, you will go up 1 stop of light. So if your meter reading is f5.6 at 600ws, then it will be f8 at 1200ws.


One disadvantage to using strobes is that since the light is not continuous, the photographer cannot see what the light will look like when it fires. To compensate for this, strobes have a modeling light, which approximates the look of the strobe. The modeling light is usually quartz, which is also fairly white light, but on cheaper units this can be a normal tungsten bulb.


The modeling lights can usually be dialed up or down and therefore can closely approximate how the light will look from the strobe. Another consideration is that the use of a light meter is necessary. Because what you see is not what you get, and since you are adjusting the distance from the lights to the subject, and adjusting power ratios, there will be a lot of variation on exposure.


Strobes come in two variants, one type has a flash head that is attached to a power pack via a cable. The other type is self contained and has the power supply built into the head. These are frequently called monolights. monolight The second type is more common with beginning photographers, while the separates are used by most pros. Both have strengths and weaknesses. The monolight units are easier to setup, and they have the power control built right into them so the photographer can dial each one's power in independently. The strobes with packs have more cables to deal with. The problem with monolights is that they are heavier than the heads without packs built in, and they are often on top of a light stand. It is a lot more weight so the stand is top heavy. Add umbrellas, shapers, or softboxes on top that and you really need to sandbag you stand. With separate packs the heavy part of the flash can stay on the floor. profotoMost packs can power up to four separate heads. These heads are smaller and lighter. The packs only use one power cord as well, where with the monolights each head needs a direct power cord. Syncing is easier with a pack as well. The photographer can place the pack (with its trigger) in a line of sight position if it needs to be fired from the flash of other lights. With the monolights they cannot be moved from their prime lighting position and sometimes will not fire.

Next up part two: HOW TO USE THEM

Click Here for Part TWO



Last Updated ( Monday, 05 January 2009 01:54 )