Working With Constant Lighting

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Continuous lighting (also known as constant lighting) has been a photography mainstay since the beginning of the industry. With what-you-see-is-what-you-get results, constant light sources are convenient and easy to use. In this article we explore the Legacy StarLite 3200 in a variety of lighting scenarios to illustrate how it performs. It's important to note that this is the first version StarLite, prior to 2007. This model does not have the quick-release function to remove the softbox connector. Rather it uses a manual set pin on the top of the unit. It also uses a wing handle swivel, unlike the new model, which uses a single action handle/tilt adjust.

Windows can be a beautiful light source for portraits but often the soft, one-directional light leaves the side of the subject’s face that is away from the window dimly lit or in shadow. Adding a Legacy StarLite 3200 with a SilverDome nxt: Small to this side of the subject adds a soft and flattering fill that compliments the window light and results in a more balanced exposure.

During the midday hours it can be very challenging to shoot outdoors in the sun, as the light is often directly overhead and especially bright. One way to combat this is to shoot in open shade. This solves the brightness issue but often shooting in the shade can result in muddy skin tones and a slightly underexposed look. Adding a soft, continuous light brightens skin tones and warms the cool tone of the light.

Choosing a neutral and slightly warm backdrop was done intentionally to compliment the tungsten bulbs used with the Legacy StarLite 3200s. LED bulbs can also be used if you desire a cooler colorcast. Here are a few more examples of the final results.

Constant lights such as the Legacy StarLite 3200 make great studio lights for portraits, fashion, glamour, etc. It is important to find a space where you can eliminate the ambient light and add your continuous lights where you want them, such as a hallway or windowless room.

In the example below one Legacy StarLite 3200 is used with a SilverDome nxt: Medium as a key light. This created a nice look but the shadow side of the subject’s face was too dark. A second Legacy StarLite 3200 is added with a 30” RUD shoot-through umbrella behind and to the left as an accent light. The final portrait is a balanced exposure with flattering soft light.

Continuous light is great for portraits but it can also be used for product and food photography with excellent results. In the example below the cookies and milk were photographed in a sunny kitchen with only window light. This represented the food well, as you would see it in real life, but the front of the subject is too dark and the overall image lacks contrast and punch. Adding a Legacy StarLite 3200 in front fills in the shadows, creating a more dramatic and interesting exposure while still maintaining a natural light look.

Product photography can be a real challenge in terms of lighting. Often ambient light is too dim or mixed sources of natural, fluorescent and tungsten lights result in muddy looking exposures. Constant light sources are an excellent choice when shooting product images as you can see your lighting effect as you adjust the light (as opposed to strobe lighting). Using a tripod ensures that you can take long exposures as needed. In the example below, the glass pumpkin was photographed inside a Photoflex LiteRoom: Medium to minimize reflections and create a clean white backdrop.

The first exposure, using natural light only, is passable but the pumpkin lacks depth and appears a bit flat. Adding a Legacy Starlite 3200 with a SilverDome nxt: Small behind the LiteRoom creates highlights along the top of the pumpkin as well as more depth, surface detail and contrast.

The lightweight and versatile Legacy StarLite 3200 is great addition to any photographer’s kit. With so many applications, it can come in handy with almost all genres of photography. Paired with the Photoflex’s many lighting modifiers the possibilities are endless. The Legacy StarLite 3200 is on sale right now for just $49.95. Call to place your order now before they are all sold out: 831-786-1370

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