There are two kind of continuous lighting available today - these hot and cool lights. Hot lights, like tungsten and halogen bulbs create a lot of heat and can be a problem when photographing certain subjects. People under hot lights will begin to sweat and flowers will wilt. More expensive hot lights can be far enough away from the subject to overcome this difficulty but you have to consider it when the lights will be within four feet or so of your subject.
Cool lighting is created with fluorescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs are very energy efficient and emit very little heat. In the past, the problem with cool continuous light was that fluorescent light tends to have a greenish color and it was necessary to be very knowledgeable about lens filters in order to correct the color. Newer cool continuous lights produce better color balance than the old ones did.
Studio flash lighting, also called strobe lighting, produces sharp contrasts and shadows unless a diffuser or soft box is used. Newer strobe lighting is often equipped with a continuous light that allows you to see what the shot will look like with the flash. Many photographers prefer to use studio flash lighting for living subjects since the flash produces no uncomfortable level of heat. Of course, some subjects are difficult to photograph using studio flash lighting because they will squint their eyes or even close their eyes during the flash.
Continuous lighting does allow the photographer more ability to interact with the lighting. The lights can be moved around, set at different angles and different heights to get exactly the lighting you desire for your subject. Continuous lighting works well with digital cameras, but photographers who use film cameras often prefer the results that get with studio flash lighting.
Films are usually shot using hot continuous lights, but still photography can use either hot or cool continuous lights or studio flash lighting. Studio flash lighting is also helpful in creating certain effects, particularly effects with high contrast and black and white film. If you can only afford one type of lighting for your studio, you may want to choose a good studio flash light. Continuous lighting is great for photographing in color but studio flash is probably better for black and white shots.
The type of lighting any photographer chooses will have a lot to do with his personal preferences and style. While it is best to have both continuous lighting and studio flash equipment, if you must make a choice, studio flash may be more versatile. The subject of your photography will also influence your choice. While continuous lighting allows the photographer more control over the placement of the lighting, he may lose some of the versatility of the studio flash lighting. If your primary camera is a digital, you may prefer continuous lighting. If you prefer to work with black and white film, a studio flash will probably serve you better.
There is a great deal of disagreement on which type of lighting is preferable. Both continuous lighting and studio flash have their own advantages and disadvantages. Each individual photographer has to choose the right light for his particular subject and shot.
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