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Lighting and correct Colour Temperature for product photography

The first question is often: Do I need lights or a flash with the PhotoCube foto box (lighttent)?
You can choose either, because both are possible. Continuous lighting works well and is actually better than a flash for most types of product photography. Studio flash lights are usually used for portrait and model photography because the subject is moving and a quick flash prevents blurring. Product photography nearly always involves static subjects, so you donít have to freeze the movement.

Continuous lighting is not as bright as a flash, but this isnít a problem because you can compensate by having a slower shutter speed. And, because the subject is static, the slower shutter speed wonít result in blurring (especially if you use a tripod).

You can combine shutter speed and aperture together with lighting, which is not the case with a studio flash bulb. This means you can take shots using a small aperture (large opening), which provides a very shallow depth of field and a nicely unfocused background, so irregularities are no longer visible.

Another advantage of continuous lighting is that you can see any shadows and reflections before you actually take the shot. Large studio flash lamps usually have a pilot light, so shadows and reflections are visible here too.

Light sources, such as lamps or the sun, emit different colours. Humans cannot see this, and cameras cannot cope with it very well either.

This means photos can have annoying, unintended colour tones on them. The light from an ordinary incandescent light bulb has a yellow tone, for example, and from a fluorescent lamp it can be blue/green.

These colours are called colour temperatures in photography

The colour temperature is a scale that ranges from red to blue, with yellow, orange and white in between. 

The temperature is expressed as a number using the Kelvin unit.

The lower the number, the warmer the colour of the light. Sometimes the light comes from several light sources Ė each with a different colour temperature. You can only adjust the camera for a single light source, so for mixed light sources you have to choose the best white balance setting for the main subject.

We therefore recommend daylight bulbs when using continuous lighting (lamps). These emit a beautiful white light which means you donít need any colour correction, or only a minimal amount. Another advantage is that they are not hot, which makes them nice and safe.

There are lots of different types of daylight lamps available, not only as complete lighting sets, but also as individual bulbs. The latter simply fit into a standard bulb fitting (E27). Be very careful about the quality. Good quality means that the colour temperature is constant and will remain so. With lesser quality bulbs, the glass can burn and become discoloured. They also usually have a shorter lifespan.

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