Unit 5: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4

An Introduction

In term 2 we were introduced to Studio photography. First of all, we learnt about the equipment and what effect it has.




This is one of the most popular accessories for portrait photography. It provides a very soft light with no shadows. The bigger the softbox. The softer the light. Some softboxes are huge and have 7 lights inside to give an even light, for example, for photographing large objects such as cars.


The distance between the light and the subject affects the shadow. The closer the light is, the softer the shadow and the further away the light is from the subject, the stronger the shadow will become.


Umbrella dish

umbrellaThis is a small, shiny reflector, which is used with an umbrella. It creates lots of light and the umbrella diffuses it. When the umbrella is placed close to the light, there is a tiny shadow and the further away it is, the shadow decreases even further.

Another advantage of the umbrella is that you can bounce light off it and  it’s light to carry, it’s perfect for outdoor photography.

Beauty dish

beautydishA shallow dish that attaches to a light source. This is used a lot in portraiture. Using a diffuser with it can make the light softer, and softer still if you move the diffuser aware from the flash.

A bigger dish with shiny / porous (non reflective) surfaces inside makes the shadow softer as the light bounces everywhere inside.

Further reading: What is a beauty dish


The Snoot, Honeycomb and Barn doors tend to come as a package


This is cone shape – like a lampshade.

“The light from a snoot is ideal for isolating a subject. For example, a snoot is often used to create a single beam of light to highlight an object or person.” Source: Photoconnexion



Like mesh. It creates tiny light sources and is very strong, directional light. The honeycomb is picture below on a barn door.

“The honeycomb grid is a tight structure of a similar shape to the honeycomb made by honey bees. It’s affixed to the front of a studio strobe. Or it can be fixed to an off-camera flash. The light shines through the grid and creates a tight beam of light. The aim is to create a focused beam with little diffusion. It is effective in creating such a beam, but it is not as intense or focused as a snoot.” Source: Photoconnexion


Barn doors

One of the most popular accessories. You can limit where the light falls and determine the strength of the shadows

“Barn doors are fixed onto the front of studio or theatre lights. They have four hinged doors around the light source. That set up, seen right, can be changed so you can control the light shape.” Source: Photoconnexion

barn doors


LED lights are becoming popular for studio photography. The down side of these is that there are so many lights, you get lots of shadow, though it’s not harsh.

7000 lumen lights (torch) can be used in place of studio lights as they generate a lot of light and are cheaper than a flash.

Continuous light (tungsten light) can be used instead of a flash, however your models will get too hot so it’s best to avoid this, unless it’s LED as it’s safer and doesn’t get as hot.

Camera settings in studios

  • Use manual settings
  • Use the lowest possible ISO (eg. 100)
  • The shutter speed should not be faster than 1/250 with standard studio lights, otherwise you’ll see the dreaded shutter ‘curtains,’ unless of course, you’re using HSS (high speed synch.)
  • The only real thing to consider in studio photography is aperture / depth of field, unless you’re photographing movement.
  • When shooting using narrower apertures, the lights need to be brighter
  • The modelling light helps you set up and focus. Switch it off during sessions with products but keep it on low when working with people
  • Tungsten light =  yellow / Flash light = white
  • There is no need to use your on camera flash when in a studio. Use a trigger to control the studio flashes.