3Photographic Light Sources

Photographs are taken by the agency of light travelling from the subject to the photoplane in the camera. This light usually originates at a source outside the picture area and is reflected by the subject. Light comes from both natural and artificial sources. Natural sources include the sun, clear sky and clouds. Artificial sources are classified by the method used to produce the light (see Table 3.1).

Table 3.1 Methods of producing light


Source of light



Flame from flammable materials

Candles, oil lamps, matches, magnesium ribbon, flash powder and flash-bulbs


Carbon or tungsten filament

Incandescent electric lamps, e.g. domestic lamps, studio lamps, tungsten-halogen lamps ...

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