What lights give good spectra?

Started Jan 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
Duncan C
Veteran MemberPosts: 7,563
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Another thought:
In reply to Alphoid, Jan 14, 2013

Alphoid wrote:

Right now, my house is lit mostly by CFLs, and some incandescent bulbs. Especially with the CFLs, but also with the incandescent lights, the quality of portraits -- even with a gray card -- is abysmal. I'd like to swap out for something that will give more natural skin colors. I do not have room in my house for dedicated photography lights (e.g. something on a tripod with an umbrella is out).

Things I'd like (by decreasing importance):

  1. Rich spectrum for natural-looking photographs (requirement)
  2. Low power consumption (very strong desire; heat is an issue)
  3. Fits existing lightbulb sockets, as opposed to e.g. an LED strip to mound on my wall (nice-to-have).
  4. Reasonable cost (nice-to-have)

Right now, the room where I most commonly shoot has two CFLs on the ceiling, and a standing/mobile light with 5 CFLs (all at 60-100W equivalent).

Any suggestions on what I should buy to give good (or at least somewhat better) lighting?

(I had posted this in the open forum, but got no responses).

One thing I've done that works surprisingly well:

Set up a moderate powered studio strobe in a corner of the room, positioned fairly low and aimed up at the ceiling. (I used a 300WS monolight) Crank up the light pretty bright, and meter at subject position. Then shoot with a radio or optical trigger, and with your camera set on manual exposure with pre-set shutterspeed and aperture.

The higher the ceilings the better for this approach. Cathedral ceilings are best. It won't work if the ceiling is anything other than white

The flash completely swamps the room light, and since it bounces off the ceiling, you get very even light without strong shadows. The light is still directional however since it comes from the ceiling.

Since you light the whole room, there isn't a lot of variation in light level from place to place, and you don't have to position your subjects. You just set up your light, take a meter reading, and then leave it running. Your family soon forgets it's there, and then :POP!: you take a picture.

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