Photography studio lights29. April 2013. Light is one of the essential elements of photography. Most beginner photographers know and care very little about studio lights. I have been in the same situation until I recently got a tiny interest in product photography. This is my overview of the principal elements so that those of us who can't buy our own equipment know what to think about when we use house lamps and homemade tools.
Softboxes: This is one of the primary tools to create a smooth light across your subject.
Basic instruction video for Softboxes provided by B&H Photograhy storeWhat you see therefore is that a softbox makes the flash light become less harsh. One alternative to a typical softbox is umbrellas where you direct the light into a umbrella shaped object.
Diffusers are in many ways very similar to softboxes. In many aspects you can consider a diffuser to be the front element of the softbox. The advantage of a diffuser over a softbox is that you to a larger extent can control the angle of a light. In other words you can control the gradient of a light. For taking portraits this is not particularly useful. If you want to start with product photography, this can be very useful.
This is what diffusers looks like. As you see they are quite reasonable and with them you can get great results.Reflectors are basically just something to reflect the light and can therefore by anything and don't need to be expensive. These you will often see in outdoor model shoots where a reflector often is used to bounce sunlight onto the model. In studio lighting it is used to create highlights or reduce lightning contrast.
Screens are useful in studio because you probably have many objects in the environment that you don't want to be reflected on the subject. They only need to be able to block out light and are therefore not expensive.
Spot lights are found in many categories. These are attached to the light source to create a narrow beam. These are used in portraiture, but are also essential for product photography. It is difficult to work without any form of spotlights for many type of effects. Luckily this is also the cheaper kind of accessories.