Photography studio equipment is a necessity if you want to make images that are planned and controlled. This is in contrast to the work of photo-journalist or documentary photographers who shoot the world as they see it. Whereas, everything that happens in a studio setting is precisely for the purpose of making a photography. With the proper studio equipment, the studio photographer has at his finger tips the means to make almost any photograph imaginable. Here we will talk about some of the basics.
Cameras and Lenses For the Studio
The most basic of photography studio equipment is the camera. When purchasing a camera, make sure you have a digital single lens reflex, or if shooting film a single lens reflex camera is also necessary. These types of cameras allow for changing the lens when necessary. Depending on what you are shooting, you may want to use anything from a wide angle lens to a macro lens, so being able to remove one lens and attach another is important. Today the size of the camera is not as important as it used to be. A 35 mm camera can work just a well as a 4X5 view camera, depending on what you are shooting and the desired outcome, or how large you want the output of the images to be. Many studio photographers take the middle road and use medium format cameras. Keep in mind that when it comes to output, the larger the film size the better for enlargements and the more pixels you have available for use in digital, the better.
Your Photography studio equipment would be incomplete without the inclusion of lighting equipment. Lighting is a major component of studio photography. Having a good selection of lighting equipment in your studio expands the range of subjects that can be handled. Although daylight is a great light source, it is not permanent, constant or predictable. Its intensity varies depending on the weather, the time of year and the time of day. It’s colors vary with the same factors from orange to blue. The softness of daylight depends on how much mist or cloud covers the sun. These variables have to be taken into consideration and can make photographing some things, such as portraits, inconvenient as they have to be planned in advance.
Electronic flash a standard photography studio equipment light source. The main advantage of electronic flash is that it is fast and cool in comparison to tungsten lighting which has a high output of heat, and makes it uncomfortable when working with models and such. Even though electronic flash has an output of heat, it rarely last longer than 1/1000 or 1/500 of a second, making it possible to handle regular action such as splashing liquid or limb movements of a model. The advantage of the low output of heat makes for more pleasant working conditions especially when shooting from very close distance for still life or food, which could suffer damage from the heat.
Free-standing power packs are the basic workhorse of studio
A slave flash unit is the simplest remote trigger for several flash units. It eliminates the need for trailing leads, and is useful for internal flash units. A strobe flash unit can deliver a rapid sequence of flashes for multiple exposures of action. The light output is relatively week. Area lights, also known as softlights, windows, or boxlights, are sometimes manufactured as complete flash units on counter-balancing stands.
Tungsten Light Source May be a Necessary Addition to Your Photography Studio Equipment
Tungsten lighting has some distinct uses even though the practical advantages in most studio photography lie in flash. One of the benefits of a tungsten light source is that it provides continuous light, in contrast to the instant pulse of a flash unit. There are two types of photography where this maybe better. One is when you want to show the movement of something as a blur, and the other is where the camera needs a great deal of light, for example when shooting macro photography. In both cases, the relatively long exposures dictated by tungsten lighting are used deliberately to advantage. Tungsten lamps are available both separately for fitting into standard screw and bayonet sockets, and also built into special holders. The wattage of the lamp determine the light output. In the case of flood lights the general wattage is 275 to 500. For smaller, more intense halogen lamps, which are used in most professional lighting systems, 800 to 1000 watts are used. The advantage of the halogen lighting systems is that they are brighter and do not lower the color temperature with age, as do flood lights. But, they are expensive to replace and can be dangerously hot for some light fittings. Although tungsten light can be found in other form of incandescent lighting including domestic and office, the main variable of having this source of lighting as a part of your photography equipment studio is the color temperature. Most studio tungsten lighting is balanced at 3200k.
Variations of How Tungsten Lighting is Housed
Mini spot light; A small lensed spotlight useful in medium-sized studios. Red spot; A small fitting for general purpose uses. I can also be used as a direct spot, reflected off other surfaces, or used behind diffusers. Photo Flood; This is the simplest and least expensive photographic lamp. It is an uprated version of a regular domestic tungsten lamp. It is generally available in sizes between 275-500 watts. Tota-light; This is a very small, portable lighting system. It has the same powerful output as most of the others but can be fitted into small spaces. It is great for location kits. Luminare; The fresnel luminaire is one of the most basic and traditional tungsten lights. The front glass is a fresnel lens to concentrate the light in a tight beam.
Photography Studio Equipment for Diffusing the Light Source
Most studio light sources, except for certain lamps which are built into their own fittings, are intended for use with additional fittings. These light diffusing fittings modify the quality of light and as a by product, its quantity also. The possibility for diffusion is greater with flash units than with tungsten lamps, but often times necessary in both. Flash is less prone to over heating therefore can be fitted with a greater variety of enclosing fittings. Tungsten most often requires diffusion that is not close to the lame such as a large movable fabric frame, for example. There are many types of diffuser on the market, that range from umbrellas to frosted glass to fabric depending on what light source you are using.
Backdrops as Part of Your Photography Studio Equipment
Backdrops are a necessary element in studio photography. Depending on your studio and the amount of space you have, you want to make sure that whatever you are shooting is not lost in the noise of a clutter background. When choosing backdrops as part of your photography studio equipment, try to keep them simple and plain. The more neutral the tone, texture and color, the more regularly they can be used. The most widely used are nine-foot rolls of heavy, seamless paper. They come in a variety of colors. You can suspend them horizontally on a bar, that can be attached to wall brackets on the ceiling, or use free standing poles that attach to the rod which holds the paper. Be careful not to crease the paper when using it. You can also use different kinds of fabrics to make your sessions more interesting.
Other Miscellaneous But Necessary Photography Studio Equipment Tips
As you can see cameras and lighting is always important in photography, whether in the studio or on the streets. But just to keep in mind, there is other photography studio equipment that may be necessary to keep your shoot fun such as; A sturdy tripod, bounces for reflecting light back to the scene, slide projector for making your own backdrops, barndoors to keep light from spilling, polarizing filter for camera or screen for flash to help with reflections, light meter to measure reflected light, and an ambient light/flash meter. As you work in your studio, and depending on what your projects are you may or may not need all of the items listed all at once. But these are thing to keep in mind as you build up your photography studio equipment. Happy shooting!