Portraits – Strobes

Studio strobes are designed to be a major source of light. So they have great power capabilities but are not practical to carry with you anywhere outside a photography studio.
They have variable resistor or a dial to adjust the “power” of the light as well as the “lamp”.

“Power” adjusts the level of power output from the light, basically setting a thresh-hold within which the “Lamp” control will work.

“Lamp” adjusts the amount of light the light outputs before the shutter release and the intensity of the flash during the shutter release.

With these variable options, changing the mood of a shot can be easy by shooting with a warmer white balance or something as simple as dimming the lights. Darkening the photo can also be done by raising the aperture by one stop (say from 14 to 16).

Just a reminder that changing the mood of a shot may not be so simple for this reason: changing the amount of light put out in one shot may make it necessary for the lights to be moved closer to your subject or at-least positioned again. Here is the reason I mentionĀ changing the mood could require a change in light position:

Most every surface will reflect light. Not every surface will reflect equal amounts of light, but some more readily than others. So when light is added or removed surfaces will respond so by reflecting more light or absorbing more than you expected.


Surfaces of darker colors such as browns and blacks will absorb more light than other colors of like surfaces. The darker surfaces will reflect light but with different effects.

Think of different colors being a kind of code for the intensity of reflected light. This is a basic way of considering the issues since their surfaces also make a difference, but as you work more with your strobes and the surfaces in a shot your actions will become natural and fluid and not in-front of every other conscious thought. Be patient, it will come!


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