Photography Lighting Consistency: Always Buy In Sets

CFL Variation

Sooner or later, your photography is going to involve lights.  Whether you are talking about speedlights, strobes, or even generic work lights, all of these can be used with varying degrees of control and accuracy.  The problem that comes into play when dealing with multiple styles of lights is that of white balance. Your speedlights will have a different setting for white balance than strobes, incandescent, and halogens.  Then there’s the compact fluorescent bulbs.  These are the trickiest ones to wrangle in because they can really vary a lot, even within the same vendor.  This is why I always buy CFL bulbs in sets.  It was never more evident to me than recently when I was using the remnants of a bunch of sets in our upstairs vanity:

CFL Variation

This is why it’s always better to light scenes with identical sources.  This means using all strobes, or all speedlights – or even all halogens.  Likewise, if you use a series of CFL bulbs to light anything – there’s nothing wrong with that, just make sure you use lights from the same set, because if you don’t, the above can happen, and that can make controlling white balance nearly impossible.  Here’s another example – take a look at the shot below, shot with one of those LED lights and a cheap workshop light from Home Depot.  Nothing inherently wrong with either as a light source, but look at the different colors of light from these.


So, the word of warning today is to shoot with similar light sources.  And even when shooting with similar light sources, to make sure you keep things as consistent as possible.  Because once you introduce variation in light sources, there will inevitably be variances in the color of light. And variation in light sources just makes a good white balance more difficult to obtain in post production.

If using typical CFL light bulbs, there are ways to do this.  Look for lights called “daylight balanced” bulbs.  These are manufactured to certain specifications that allows for the most uniformity.  Even here though, there can be variance from one batch to another, which is why it’s always a good idea to buy your CFL’s in sets.  They are a tad more expensive, but not grossly so (although you can get some that are custom made for photography purposes like the ones here).  Here’s a great CFL from Amazon that you could buy in sets for only a third of the Tabletop Studio lights:


Just another tip to consider when setting up your shoot space.  For me, I tend to stick to speedlights and strobes with photography, but I can see where using work lights and other options may be something worth considering for others.  What about you though?  What do you use to light your working space?  Are you like me and use just speedlights and strobes, or do you opt for other lighting choices?  Sound off in the comments and share your own post production tips for accurate white balancing.

April Contest Winner, Summer Schedule

April Contest Winner - Sue90CA

Many of you have patiently been awaiting the winner of the April contest winner announcement, as well as the details for the May, er…Summer Contest Announcement, so today is going to answer a lot of questions for these folks!  I am happy to announce first off, that the winner of the April contest is…..(insert drumroll):

April Contest Winner - Sue90CA
 Thanks to all for their contributions – and Sue, you are the winner of the Lightroom 4 DVD from Laura Shoe!  Please drop me a line via email or Flickr msg to have the details coordinated on getting your DVD set to you!
And now, for the Summer schedule….here’s the details you all have been waiting for!
1. Two photos per person
2. Must be work-safe/family-friendly
3. Posted to the Flickr thread
4. Largest side must be no more than 800px or less than 600px (this is only so that the winning image can be displayed well…)
5. Taken within the contest Window of May – July
6. Images must be done by Sunday, JULY 29th!  (Yes, you have nearly 3 months on this contest!)
7. Theme is SUNNY
8. And most importantly, have fun!
So, some special notes for this contest – the winner will proudly claim the DVD prizes I mentioned earlier in the week – a DVD from Ibarionex R Perello and one from Chris Orwig!  The Flickr thread will go live this weekend, but that’s no excuse for starting to take your own shots now!  Any shots from May 1st through July 29th are eligible (and yes, we will continue using the honor system there…)
Good luck to all, and thanks to Laura for the April donation!  See you next Monday!  Happy shooting!

Top Ten Blogs for 2012

F Stoppers

As interests change and adapt from one year to another, so too do recommendations for the readership.  So, this year, rather than restricting the list of “must read” blogs to photo-themed ones, figured I would let the expanding areas of interest influence the “honor roll”.  To that end, it’s notable to point out the addition of a travel blog (since I am doing a lot more travel for both work and pleasure now…).  Some previous mentions here for “top blogs” are also noticeably absent, so a bit of a side note is warranted there as well:

When I go to a blog – I am going there for information and/or an education.  I am not going there to be “sold”.  I get enough email, snail mail, phone calls, and such promoting various products, outfits, and services that the last thing I want to do is go and seek it out. So, if blogs become promotional arms to other ends, there is nothing inherently wrong with that – but it’s not what I want to read in either my inbox or my free time.  Having given that side note, it’s time to reveal (in no particular order), my choices for The Top Ten Blogs for 2012:

1.  Flying With Fish – This blog came to my attention a few years ago when some travel tips for photographers was highlighted.  Since then, I’ve continued to follow it as I’ve been interested in travel generically.  The notes, news, and other pearls that are shared here really add value, understanding, and insight to an aspect of my business travel that would otherwise be severely lacking without this resource!

2.  Digital Photography School – What started as a blog has morphed into an amazing website and community of talented photographers and writers.  The inspiration comes from Darren Rowse, author of the also popular where I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that have been implemented here as well.  It’s an amazing repository of information and a fantastic community.  If you had to pick one resource on the web to go to with questions and get answers, this would be it.

3.  DIY Photography – Having done a few DIY things in my own day, including a gridded snoot, a 10-stop filter, and most famously a star tracker (which was even featured on their site!), DIY resource sites are like flames for this moth.  If you have a hankering for DIY stuff, and love to learn about anything and everything, then this is the perfect site to segue with your photography interests!  Absolutely love it!

4.  Photopreneur – Anyone who’s ever picked up a camera has wondered – “Can I sell my images?”  It doesn’t matter if you’ve sold images or not, the thought of whether you have what it takes is always something you wonder.  For those who are ever interested in blending a career with photography, this is one site to keep in your favorites.


5.  The Lightroom Queen – Victoria Bampton came to my attention after Adobe released Lightroom 2, and I realized that Lightroom was the future of photography post production.  Victoria saw this much sooner and became an expert pretty much before anyone else did, and has kept herself at the forefront of the developments in the product line.  I keep wondering when I can get her on the podcast, and perhaps this will nudge things along a little more! 🙂

6.  1001 Noisy Cameras – If you want to know the latest developments and releases in the industry, this has become pretty much the go-to resource for pretty much everyone in the industry.  Whether you have a penchant for Canon (me), Nikons, or any other vendor, and irrespective of DSLR, P&S, or these new 3rd gen cameras, 1001 Noisy cameras has the latest and greatest on all the camera news one could ever hope to soak in.  An endless resource for the gear hound in all of us!  (In the interests of full disclosure, they’ve also been generous when I’ve done gear reviews in giving some link love to me, so thanks to them for that! )

7.  Strobist – Now the only resource around for those interested in the details of off-camera lighting, it almost goes without saying that Strobist by David Hobby should be in your bookmark list.  Some days are more interesting than others, but there is always something worth learning (or re-learning if you want a refresh on anything).  Make sure you check out the Lighting 101 series – a beginner’s guide to off-camera lighting.  I can’t believe I had the opportunity to work with this guy a while back and had to decline because of a work conflict – was so bummed about that!

8.  Light Stalking – An impressive repository of writers and articles that covers everything from technique, to gear maintenance, and everything in between.  Some of the articles are a bit shorter than I would like to see, but there’s almost always good content, and it’s in my emailed list of sites that I permit into my mailbox.  Not only do I learn things from here myself, but it’s also a source of inspiration for article ideas and expanded content!

9.  F-Stoppers – What a talented set of photographers, videographers, writers, and project artists!  These guys will totally blow you away with the projects they put out over at F-Stoppers.  I am inspired and impressed with their footage, results, and behind-the-scenes perspectives that they all share every time they press the “Post” button!  If you haven’t stopped over to them yet, do so and add them to your inbox now!

F Stoppers

10.  A Photo Editor – Coming from the perspective of a magazine editor, this is the place to go for photographer profiles, industry news, and great insights on the industry as a whole.  With so many resources out there, this has become a pretty authoritative outlet, and information resource so make sure you add it to your own list of sites to visit regularly.  I do and am sure you will come to rely on Rob’s content too!


So, there you have it – 10 blogs and websites to make sure you take some time to visit for 2012.  Now, as I alluded to at the beginning of this post, some noticeable blogs are absent that used to be perennially listed.  Specifically, Scott Kelby’s “Photoshop Insider” and Joe McNally’s blog.  This is not to say that these are not worth visiting.  It’s just that the content there I am finding less interesting and useful.

The former is not what it used to be – a good resource for Photoshop and photography tips.  Instead, it has become a pulpit for delivering promotional content to the Kelby landscape of products and services.  I am not criticizing this at all – after all, the services and products that come from Kelby Training and NAPP have served me well for years, but Scott Kelby’s blog is no longer something I learn from – it’s where I go to get news about NAPP.

As for McNally’s blog – that too has become more of a promotional venue.  I enjoy his writings and images that he shares, but don’t really feel that I am learning much from that outlet.  My visits there are now completely for entertainment.  I do watch the Kelby Training schedule to see if and when he will be hitting Denver so that I might be able to attend a workshop, but the blog is just not a good learning resource.