Continuous Lighting vs. Flash Lighting plus Alternative Photo Lighting

Irina Lazareanu wearing Christian Lacroix Haute Couture © Benjamin Kanarek

Lighting a set for a photo is a very fickle entity. Why do I say that? Because light can play many tricks on us and is often elusive in it’s ethereal state. It has many frequencies and understanding those wave lengths might help us understand the grand palette of nuances available that we can play with. Now to add to the different color temperatures (frequency) we have another element that is a very important part of the equation and that is duration. Light is always present, even in the darkest of nights. That is where duration or time comes in to play.

I love playing with light, especially when I can compose with it, rather than nature imposing it on to my environment. Not that I do not love natural light and all that can be accomplished with it, but I believe my forte is creating light from scratch and designing my work with brush strokes, splats, washes and fine details.

I also love to mix and match different frequencies (color temperatures), durations and light sources.

We need to start by attempting to grasp how light from different sources, durations, color temperatures and light sources have an effect on your final images. “Light is a very powerful spice and should be used sparingly.” Is my motto. Use it sparingly and it can bring some very powerful elements to light, (no pun intended) in to your imagery. Now when I say sparingly, I don’t necessarily mean that you cannot splash it all over the place, especially if that is your intent. Of course you may, but be sure you know why and what the outcome will be.

Your camera can capture a multiplicity of frequencies and nuances. What the camera does not know is what you the “Composer” is attempting to accomplish and thus, generally can only deliver predictable results.

So to end this Part 1 of this theme, I suggest you start to look at light of all sources and see how those sources are intermingling with the environment. In the meanwhile, I suggest you prepare a couple of lamps with 60 watt light bulbs, a single flash unit, a few cardboard squares of about 35cm, some white paper, black paper and some aluminum foil. You may however imagine anything you wish, until the next episode.

About Benjamin Kanarek
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Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…

  • Hi Benjamin,
    I’m just starting to dig into this blog – very inspiring!

    I have a slightly off-topic question about tungsten lighting. I’m a user of flash, and want to add tungsten to the mix for creative effect… How do you control the light output from these lights – do you use dimmer packs, bulb wattage(?) or light-to-subject distance? I know all work, just curious about what you use. Thanks!