Continuous lighting is a great way to start out with portrait photography. Continuous lighting has also been called “hot lights” over the years as most of this type of lighting generates a lot of heat. There are stories of models needing to have their make up redone several times on a shoot because it was just melting off of their face! Today there are “hot” lights that don’t get too hot, some are LED and do not generate any heat at all. You can get continuous lighting from most photography supply stores, the prices range from under $100.00 to kits that are over $1000.00! There are also halogen work lights available from home improvement stores for very affordable prices, you can sometimes find them on sale for under $20.00!
When working with hot lights, if they are actually generating heat, be sure to keep them a safe distance from your subject! Burns are never a good thing! Safety first!
The biggest benefit of working with continuous lighting is, what you see is what you get. You can move the light around and see where the shadows are going to fall and the exact lines of the shadows. Continuous lighting has also been called “constant” lighting, because the light is always on and does not vary in brightness. With strobes photographers often confuse the modeling light as a light to show you how the shadows will fall when the strobe actually fires. This is not true! The modeling light is there so you can focus on your subject, the way the shadows fall is all about how powerful you have the strobe set for…. but that is a post for another day.
Another benefit of hot lights are the price. They are very affordable and replacement bulbs are a fraction of the cost of replacement strobes! They are also very portable, you can pack them in a small box or bag and take them with you wherever you go. So if you happen to be shooting boudoir in a hotel room, they can fit into your luggage without a problem!
Hot lights add drama! The contrast is amazing! If you have ever seen the work of old Hollywood glamour photographer George Hurrell then you can see what you can do with a powerful enough hot light! If you are working with black and white film all you have to worry about is your light meter reading, if you are shooting digitally then definitely be sure to check your white balance! With all of the different options out there the Kelvin temperature will be different depending on which lights you purchase.
Photographers have been using this type of lighting for decades. It is dependable, it is easy to get a light reading on it and they are affordable and easy to come by! This is a great way to expand your boudoir portfolio without spending a small fortune!