such as the Photo Basic Kit from F.J. Westcott
(http://www.fjwestcott.com) that you see in this
lesson’s opening shot.
Most kits include three lights (one light is placed
behind the model in the opening picture), umbrel-
las (shown here) or softboxes (shown later in this
lesson) to spread and diffuse the light for a flatter-
ing effect, and light stands to support the lights.
Professional portrait, fashion, and glamour pho-
tographers spend big bucks on studio lighting
equipment that offers total creative control over
lighting their subjects.
As a dedicated photo enthusiast, however, you
don’t necessarily have to break the piggy bank to
get professional-quality results. In fact, for about
$500 you can get a portable studio lighting kit,
You can assemble a portable lighting kit in about
10 minutes (if you work quickly), transforming
a den or a living room into a photo studio. For
easy toting, the kit folds into a compact case. The
case for my kit is about the size and weight of my
wooden acoustic guitar case and guitar (20 lbs).
The lights in the opening shot are called “hot
lights.” The light source is a photoflood light bulb
with a standard screw base that provides continu-
ous light, just like the lights in your living room.
Most pros don’t use hot lights. They use much
more expensive strobe lights that provide a flash
burst, just like a camera’s flash only much more
powerful. The high-power strobe lights let you
shoot at low ISO settings for pictures without dig-
ital noise. The bright light also lets you shoot at
small f-stops for good depth of field.
Hot lights are not as powerful as strobes. They are
called hot lights because they get very hot—and
so can subjects when positioned close to them.
When using hot lights, you need to use a higher
ISO setting than when using strobes, which may
mean more digital noise in your pictures. In addi-
tion, when using hot lights you’ll probably need
to use a tripod (or image stabilization or vibra-
tion reduction lens) to steady your camera at slow
shutter speeds to avoid blurry pictures caused
by camera shake. For the hot light pictures that
I took for this lesson, even with an ISO setting of
400, my shutter speed was only 1/60 of a second
when my f-stop was set at f/5.6.
When using strobes, camera shake is not a prob-
lem, because even at a shutter speed of 1/60 of a
second, the flash fires at about 1/10,000 of a sec-
ond to “freeze” any subject or camera movement.
One of the major advantages of hot lights is that
you can check shadows and highlights as you
move the lights around, toward and away from
your subjects. With strobes, you need to wait until
after you take the picture to check the results on
your camera’s LCD monitor—unless the strobes
have modeling lights (lights that stay on and il-
luminate the subject so that the photographer can
see where shadows may fall).
When affordable hot light or strobe kits are placed
and used correctly, they can give you results that
rival those of the pros! Let’s take a look at a few