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Photography artificial lighting: Four basics to learn

Learning photography artificial lighting is a game changer. You can get more creativity with your images since it gives you more control over the photography lighting. It not only improves your photography abilities, but it also enhances your confidence behind the camera. You can take photography anytime and anywhere to produce well-lit images. Let’s dive in and learn about the following topics:

  • Its difference from natural light
  • Three main types
  • How to use it in photography?
  • How to modify it?

COLBOR CL60R offers photography artificial lighting for portrait shooting.

Difference between natural light and artificial light in photography

Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each will help you take your photography to the next level. Whether you're a pro or just getting started, this part will help you understand the main differences between them.

What is natural light?

Briefly speaking, natural light is the light emitted by the sun. It's the light we see when we go outdoors throughout the day. It's all around us, changing all the time and entirely free of charge. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all light.

Natural light may take various forms depending on the time of day and the weather. Here are some examples:

  • Direct sunlight: This is the intense, bright sunshine that we see in the middle of a clear day. It's excellent for capturing brilliant colors and fine details, but it may also produce harsh shadows.
  • Golden hour: This is the brief moment soon after dawn or before sunset. During this time, the sunshine is softer and warmer, often giving a wonderful golden glow that photographers treasure.
  • Cloudy light: When it's cloudy, the clouds work as a gigantic diffuser, distributing sunlight evenly and minimizing contrast. This produces softer shadows and less strong hues, which might be good for portraits and other sorts of images when harsh shadows need to be avoided.

Pros: Natural light is free of charge and abundant. It can provide soft, wonderful illumination. It's ideal for landscapes, portraiture, and outdoor photography. The golden hour, which occurs shortly after dawn and before sunset, provides very attractive light.

Cons: The biggest disadvantage is its unpredictability. Weather, time of day, and location may all have a significant impact on its quality and direction. This lack of control can be tricky, especially for novice photographers.

What is artificial lighting in photography?

While natural light is from the sun, photography artificial lighting is created by human. It is the light that comes from sources such as bulbs, lamps, and camera flashes. Photographers have a lot of control over artificial light, which allows them to produce unique lighting settings regardless of the time of day or weather.

Pros: You have total control over the lighting intensity, direction, color, and quality with artificial light. It's great for studio work, product photography, and any other situation where you require fine lighting control.

Cons: Artificial light may be costly and requires a power supply, which limits its use in some areas. It is also necessary to have knowledge and expertise in order to use it properly.

Natural VS artificial light for photography: Which is better?

There is no such lighting that suits all shooting scenarios. When choosing between natural and artificial lighting for photography and deciding which is better for your needs, you should take into account the following factors.

First, consider your subject. Is it a portrait, a landscape, or a product that you're going to capture? Natural lighting tends to be used to compliment outdoor scenes and to provide a gentle shine to portraits. In contrast, artificial lighting works brilliantly with product images and may provide a professional touch to studio portrait photography.

Take account of the mood you wish to create. Are you going for a light and airy look, or a more dramatic scene? Natural light will give the image a fresh, bright appearance. Manipulating artificial light may produce a wide range of moods, from dramatic shadows for a mystery vibe to soft, diffused light for a pleasant ambiance.

Timing is also important. Natural sunshine may add a magical feel to your images if you shoot outside in the early morning or late afternoon. Photography artificial lighting, on the other hand, will be your greatest friend if you're filming at night or in a darkly lit indoor location.

Finally, don't overlook the importance of practicality. Artificial lighting equipment may be costly and cumbersome, making it unsuitable for on-the-go photography. Natural light is free and does not necessitate the transport of extra equipment.

In conclusion, the decision between natural and artificial light is determined by the requirements of your given shot. There are no hard and fast rules; instead, use your understanding of the advantages and drawbacks of natural versus artificial lighting in photography to make the best option for your shot. Remember that photography is an art form, and one of your most potent tools is light. If you use it wisely, you will get amazing outcomes.

Type of artificial lighting in photography

There are three major types:

  • Continuous lights
  • Speed lights
  • Strobes

Continuous lights

Artificial continuous lights do not flash. When you switch them on, they instantly illuminate the subject. It is ideal to use continuous light for photography and also for videography.

Speed lights

Speed lights are a type of off-camera flash. They are substantially smaller and lighter, making them ideal for travel and on-location use. The disadvantage is that they are not very powerful, therefore you may need more than one to properly illuminate the subject.


Strobes, like speed lights, are an off-camera flash. They are far more powerful, and they can be larger and more costly. However, its powerful output allows you to most likely only use one light to illuminate your photography.

Use COLBOR CL60 artificial light for photography

How to use artificial light in photography?

Photography artificial lighting allows you to have complete control over all aspects of your illumination. You have control over when, where, and how much light is used. Here are some tips for how to use it effectively:

Know your lights: Artificial lighting comes in a variety of types, ranging from LED panels to studio strobes. Each has its own features and applications, so it's critical to understand what you're dealing with.

Learn to use three-point lighting: A key light (the main and the most powerful source), a fill light (which eliminates the shadows), and a back light (which makes the subject stand out from the backdrop) are used in this traditional setup.

Color temperature is important: All lights are not made equal. Some emit warm light, while others emit cool light. Color gels may be used to change the colors and create various moods. You can also go for artificial lights with RGB mode.

Make use of light modifiers: Light modifiers such as umbrellas, softboxes, and grids may soften, direct, or shape your light, giving your photos more creativity.

How to modify it?

It is also important to modify photography artificial lighting to create specific lighting effects for a certain photograph. There are three ways to achieve it, including choosing certain light sources for the effect you need, using modifiers to shape and direct the lighting, and adjusting the distance between the fixture and the subject.

Choose certain artificial light source for target effect

Several artificial light sources may be used for photography, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages:

  • Small flashes are inexpensive and simple to use, yet they provide enough of light for smaller subjects and groups of people. They allow you to freeze fast-moving subjects, although they sometimes lack advanced functionality.
  • Larger flashes have higher power and shorter recycle times and may fill larger modifiers such as softboxes and parabolic umbrellas. They are usually more costly.
  • Continuous LED-based light has a wide range of creative options, including CCT, RGB, and gelled color modes. They also support video, but Flash does not. However, because they are not as bright as a flash or strobe, they are not suitable for some uses.

Whatever artificial light you choose, it's critical to understand how the type of light affects your decisions in the long run. If you want a softer effect, for example, select a powerful light that works with a huge softbox. Alternatively, if you want to film videos as well, choose a continuous light that suits your needs.

Use modifiers to shape and direct photography artificial lighting

When selecting your lighting kit, keep a number of modifiers in mind. When you have a variety of modifiers to pick from, every artificial light source becomes significantly more useful. Softboxes and stripboxes can be used to increase the apparent size of the light source, while a snoot or grid can be used to tighten up the spill. With gels, you may change a white light into a rainbow of colors. It also helps match your strobe to other light sources in the frame, such as the setting sun.

There is a vast array of light modifiers available, which might be confusing when first starting. It is recommended to begin with the fundamentals: something to soften the illumination, something to concentrate the light, and gels to color the light.

Specifically speaking, an umbrella or softbox would be used to soften the illumination. Meanwhile, simple equipment such as a snoot or grid may concentrate/harden the light for a very low cost. Gels are available in several kits, and all to do is make sure you purchase one that can simply attach to your light source.

Adjust the distance between light source and subject

Another free way to control artificial light is to change the distance between the subject and the light. Bringing the light closer might soften it (by increasing its perceived size) while also casting more light on your subject.