Saturday, October 25, 2008

Amateur studio Lighting for card & scrapbooking Digital photography (cheap & easy halogens)

A little more about my lighting for those of you who are interested:

I had researched lighting for digital photography and read that halogen lights are an affordable alternative to pricey lighting. I'm experimenting with it and my opinion so far is that the light quality is much better than what I had, but maybe because of the brand I have my set up needs tweaking.

I guess the main question is 'Would I buy a work light again?' Absolutely. It may need a little tweaking and care for safety, but IMHO it is very worth it.

If you're seriously into setting up the perfect light, then this is not the place to be (I am no pro lol) ;o)

My particular light is made by Globe.
It has 1000W (two 500watt halogen bulbs) & it looks like this:

but the handles on the lights look like this:
...and it comes with metal cages (which I had to leave off because they created shadows.) I am thinking that I might exchange it for another brand because the light is not as steady as I'd like (it seems to have bands of light where it is stronger & weaker.) Not sure if that's just this particular brand or even the bulbs that came with it.

General considerations:

This lighting is for still life photography, not for portraiture. Models will sweat under it (and not like you much) Apparently the tube-style light bulb gives a funny glare to their eyes and dilates pupils more (though you can bounce the lights off of reflectors so they're indirect.)

One consideration is that not all halogen light is the same tone; some are whiter. The brand of fixture and/or bulbs you choose can make a difference, but I find it worth experimenting.

  • Having some lighting frees you up to take pictures at night or in less than sunny weather...
  • It can make a big difference in your photos. Images will be more in focus & brighter (without the glare of a flash)
  • A light box or just few pieces of white cardstock around your photo makes all the difference (reflects the light nicely)
  • It's affordable. This one was $40.00 Canadian
  • The stand on this one adjusts to almost 6 feet. You can get 500w with no stand for around $10.00 each
  • You can angle the lights
  • You should be able to find it at any hardware store (or the garage if you already have one)
  • It seems to offer true colour (better, less yellow than regular incandescent household bulbs anyhow)
  • You can correct colour cast or white balance in Photoshop (see tutorial below if you'd like)
  • You can bounce the light off of the ceiling for indirect lighting (though I found this wasn't bright enough for me)
  • It pulls a lot of power (not eco-friendly) but you hopefully only need it for short periods of time. (I'd never leave it on or plugged in at any rate)
  • It gets hot (though it says it has "heat resistant tempered glass," I wouldn't want to touch it & test the theory.)
  • The cages which help protect against injury & potential fire hazard leave shadows in your photos.
  • I would not use this around children or animals
Edited to Add: when you have to replace a bulb....handle with a tissue, if you use your fingers you will leave skin oils on the glass which draws all of the internal gases to the spot and drastically cuts the life of the bulb. (Thanks to mosaic1 for the great tip & the reminder!) :O)

Some stuff I wanna try:

DIY lightbox with Halogen lights
seamless background
Apparently, you can buy dimmer controls to adjust the output
Muslin photography background
Using colour balance in Photoshop
White balance in Photoshop

Hope that helps you with your lighting;
I let you know in my fumbling research if I learn anything useful,


Annapurna said...

Wow! That looks like an expensive, space consuming, energy consuming device fer sure :-)

I saw these bulbs called daylight bulbs. Wonder how one of those will work. Don't feel like spending $30 or so to try one and find out I don't really like it. LOL!

I found the gorgemous paper you used under the orange flower and more gorgemous papers yesterday:-)

Have a great weekend. Happy hugs. Anna

Corie said...

You always have the best tips -- Thanks!!

Elena said...

Mel! Thank you so much for this great information! Just yesterday we were talking with my husband about making light box. We also have this halogen lights in basement! Thank you again!

Shirley said...

I am really loveing this information. I will be back to check on it. Thanks Mel!

Barb said...

I've been wanting to get a light tent & lights... thanks for the tips! By the way... there is a blog award waiting for you at my place. I'm sure you've received it before, but you definitely deserve it!!

Unknown said...

I bought a great camera before we moved to Korea, and it has white balance settings that I can customize right on the camera. It's probably the one setting that I use the most to get good pics.

Looks like you've got yourself a whole little studio there!!
hugs, Jami

Pamela Levingston said...

I use my desk ott light and cloth light box I got off of ebay. I like the ott light because is simulates daylight and the white cloth of the light box diffuses it nicely. You make want to try that if you haven't already. QP