Most cameras have a hotshoe for attaching flashguns and other accessories. These are ‘hot’ because they have the electrical contacts needed to connect with and trigger the accessory that’s been added. A cold shoe is simply the same kind of mounting plate but without the connections. For example, they’re used for attaching video lights (which […]
Most of us take photographs in whatever light is currently available but pro photographers will often want to take control of the lighting by introducing their own. It may be as simple as a single flash unit or as complex as a multi-light setup fired by remote control. Photographic lighting comes in many different types and styles, from mains-powered studio flash to battery-powered location lights for stills and video.
A reflector is a kind of lighting modifier designed to reflect light back towards your subject. Usually it’s a white or foil-covered disc stretched tight across a circular wire rim. When the reflector’s not being used it can be twisted into a much smaller disc and stored in a circular carry case.
A honeycomb grid is a lighting attachment designed to narrow the light from a flash or continuous lighting source into a tight beam. It gets its name from the hexagonal shape of the holes in the grid. Where other lighting attachments are designed to spread and soften the light, a honeycomb grid is design to […]
This is photographic lighting which is, as the name suggests, on all the time. This is in contrast to flash, which fires in a very brief, bright burst at the moment the camera shutter opens.
High-speed sync is a special flash mode that can overcome the limited flash synchronisation speeds of focal plane shutters.
Watt-seconds is the usual measurement for the power output of professional flash systems. 1 watt-second is equivalent to the power of 1 watt for a period of 1 second. It’s used because it’s a measure of raw power output independent of any lighting modifiers, angle of coverage or reflective surfaces
A lighting modifier is designed to change the character of the light from a flashgun, or some other source of artificial lighting. Mostly they soften or diffuse the light, or change its direction.
A lighting unit designed specifically for video, typically small and light enough to mount on the camera or alongside it on a video rig. Some flashgun makers are now building a small video light into their flash units.
An old-fashioned form of continuous lighting once used extensively in studio and portrait photography but now superseded by more powerful and energy-efficient flash systems.
A continuous light built into many professional flashguns so that you can see the effect of the light ahead of taking the picture. Without a modelling lamp, you won’t really be able to gauge the effect of the lighting without taking a shot and looking at the result.
Flash duration is the length of time a flash is generating light. The flash duration is typically very short, often between 1/500sec and 1/1000sec, but often even faster than that.
The recycle time is the time taken by a flash to build up the power for the next flash after it’s just been used. Flashguns work by accumulating a large electrical charge which is then discharged in an instant via the flash head.
A brolly is a lighting modifier for professional flash systems. It’s designed to provide a much larger, softer light source than a naked flash head, and it’s one of the most popular lighting accessories.
A softbox fits around the head of a flash to provide a larger and more diffuse rectangular light source. It’s very popular amongst professional photographers for product shots, where it produces even lighting and nice reflections off glossy surfaces, and for portrait photographers who want to achieve a softer, more flattering effect.
The names used by Nikon and Canon respectively for their camera flash units, both built-in pop-up flash and external flashguns. There’s nothing intrinsically different about these compared to regular flashguns – it’s just a different choice of name.
Special flash mode where the camera’s exposure is extended beyond the brief burst of the flash. This makes it possible to record some of the ambient lighting too, and it’s a popular technique for illuminating a nearby subject brightly without losing background colour and detail.
New type of ‘continuous lighting’ that uses relatively little power but still provides enough light for video, still lives or portrait shots. Small LED panels can clip to a camera’s hotshoe, larger ones have their own stands and control panels.