Shooting with Cold Continuous Light

wescott.2liteThe  problem with traditional “hot lights” is that they are, well, hot and are not all that comfortable to work under for subject and photographer alike. Welcome to a world of continuous light sources that are powered by fluorescent bulbs. I know what you’re thinking, don’t fluorescent lights produce horrible green light?

As it turns out daylight-balanced fluorescents are the perfect light source for digital photography. By comparison, tungsten lights produce 93% heat and only 7% mostly red light. Fluorescent light is cooler, brighter, and comes out the winner for color balance. Fluorescent-based lights  for photography are daylight-balanced and their RGB output  closely match the receptive RGB spikes of a imaging chip. A digital camera’s chip is least sensitive in its blue channel and tungsten light has the least output in the blue and when combined with infrared (heat) output it can overcome the chip’s spectral response.

Westcott’s Two-Light Daylight D5 Softbox kit includes two D5 light heads, two 24×32-inch Basic softboxes, ten 27 Watt daylight balanced lamps and two 6.5 ft lightstands. The softboxes have a silver reflective  lining to maximize output with heat resistant rods that mount on receptacles on the D5’s head. It comes in a 10x12x29-inch box that since it has a handle can double as a carrying case.

Above image of Pamela Simpson was shot with a Panasonic Lumix GH4 with 45mm f/2.8 Leica DG Macro-Elmarit lens with an exposure of 1/100 sec at f/4 and ISO 640.

Be aware: Because fluorescent lamps contain mercury, they are classified as hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends fluorescent lamps be segregated from general waste for recycling or safe disposal. Home Depot in my area has a recycling area for these kinds of bulbs and I’m sure there are others at similar stores.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.13.43 AMIf you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting, in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from, with used copies selling for less than $12.

Author: Joe Farace

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