Studio Lighting

Before this project I had used the studio, just not very often and I wasn’t confident in setting any of the equipment up or shooting in this environment. I always used the excuse that I didn’t particularly like the type of images that were produced in the studio, so why would I want to shoot in there? This statement is still true, if I had the choice I probably would still chose to do an on location shoot. However I know that knowing everything that I have learnt from the studio lighting workshops we have had this term will come in handy. Not only that, but some things have to be shot in the studio, sometimes I may want to achieve this particular style I am not a big fan of, or sometimes being able to work the lighting and other equipment will help me on other shoots that aren’t in the studio. Again for this project I felt like I didn’t need the studio, and maybe I was right, this particular project I am doing doesn’t require a lot of studio work, and that can’t be changed, however I have tried to use certain aspects of the studio to enhance my project and I am glad I have done this. It may only have been simple things, like a couple of portrait shoots in the studio, or the use of my desk lamp (but in a more informed way), however I now feel more confident in the use and set up of a studio and know if I ever come to need to use it I will be more than capable to do this on my own if need be! Here are a few notes on what I have learnt in the studio for different types of shooting:

General facts for studio lighting which will apply to all shoots:

  • A soft box or soft light will produce a similar look to what a cloudy day might, nothing too harsh
  • English weather is more flattering than what you find abroad because of this reason
  • Hard light provides more detail
  • You can control light by adding light, moving lights (in different directions or closer) and by changing the intensity of the light
  • Double the distance from the light source- the amount of light that falls off is 3/4 so you don’t have to move lights much to make an effect
  • Natural light, for example the sun, is different as the light source is generally further away, this means that you have to move a lot further to get any change
  • Standing close to the light, but not directly in front of the light makes the background darker and normally black, this can be achieved with reflectors too
  • Reflectors/ bits of white or silver card can lighten the shadows within the image and provide definition where wanted
  • Gold reflectors provide a warmer tone
  • Silver reflects more than light


  • A soft box provides a soft light which is more flattering and may be used for most studio shoots
  • Hard light shows more details which may not be flattering, it is harsher and gives a shadow
  • Hard light to one side gives a high contrast
  • A soft box gives a more romanticising image- this is the kind of light I have used for portraits within this project
  • Light from above will give a shadow under the chin and emphasise the cheekbones
  • Wide angle is more unflattering and distorts the image
  • Whatever is closest to the camera will appear the largest

Still Life:

  • Flash, this provides  harsh lighting within the image and it is obvious that flash has been used
  • A soft box again provides a softer light
  • Think about the reflections that may appear on the items, different light heads will produce different reflections (look at the shape of the head)
  • More detail will be given with a hard light
  • If you want less shadows when using the hard light use a reflector


  • Concentrate on any outside lighting that you can see to be right first
  • Think about inside separately
  • Look for a balance between the two
  • You can make the inside brighter by using a flash gun when the image is being taken, this is just adding some addition light to the interior
  • Move the flash gun further or turn the power up to get a brighter light
  • By using an umbrella you will soften the light and make the flash less harsh
  • It depends what you want to achieve you have to question what sort of image you want to create and if you want there to be a shadow and then it may be a case of a bit of trial and error to achieve this image
  • Don’t forget to try different angles and umbrellas to see what works best
  • Think about reflectors too, and what tones you want within the image
  • Also look at the walls in the room, can these be used as reflectors?


  • You are unable to use a light meter when outside as it is hard to pick the flash up, the sunlight is so strong, even on a cloudy day, that will probably be your main light source
  • It will be more trial and error to get the right settings than any other studio shoot due to this
  • The modelling lamp won’t make much of a difference just get the lights set up where you think they need to be and take a few test shoots, you can get adjust the settings from these images
  • Reflectors may help you get the right tone in your images
  • Again flash might be a little too harsh, however this is reduced slightly from the sun being a main lighting source
  • If this is the case try using a soft box

I think within this module I have successfully been able to control light, using both natural light and the studio to do this. Without the workshops we have done as part of this module I would not of been able to do this. I think the images that I have shot with this in mind have turned out well and some will be used in my final piece.