Wrapping up Portraiture Week with a look at fluorescent lighting…
For digital capture, fluorescent light can be your friend and I don’t mean those long tubes hanging in lighting fixtures from the ceiling at the local 7-11. I’m talking about a new breed of portrait lighting tools designed especially for digital photography.
Why is fluorescent a great source of lighting for digital imaging? It’s because the RGB spikes of output from high color fluorescent light closely match the receptive RGB spikes of the typical imaging chip, which is less sensitive in the blue channel. Tungsten light has the least output in the blue, and when combined with the effect of infrared output (mostly heat) it can overcome the chip’s entire spectral response.
Comparing fluorescent continuous light sources to tungsten lighting is a lot easier. Fluorescent easily comes out the winner when compared to tungsten which is 93 percent heat and seven percent red light. What does this mean for digital photographers? The light you used to hate, you can now love.
There are several fluorescent cold lights systems available including Westcott’s Two-Light Daylight D5 Softbox Kit used for the images you see here. For $399.90, the kit includes two D5 light heads, two 24×32-inch Basic softboxes, ten 27-Watt daylight-fluorescent lamps and two 6.5-foot lightstands. The softboxes have a reflective silver lining to maximize output using heat-resistant rods mounting on the D5’s head. It all comes in a 10x12x29-inch box that since it has a handle can double as a carrying case. For the serious location photographer, a better solution might be a Lightware Cargo 32 case that will hold all that gear with room left over for accessories and an extension cord or two.
Pamela Simpson was photographed using only one of the D5 lights with 24×32-inch softbox and a Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Exposure was 1/50 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 640.
For more information on how I shoot glamour and boudoir images, pick up a copy of my book “Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography,” it includes tips and tricks and techniques for shooting with inexpensive and simple equipment.