When you first dive into photography lighting equipment, you’re bound to feel massively overwhelmed. Studio lighting seems complex, it’s full of confusing jargon, and it certainly isn’t designed for the beginner.
But here’s the truth:
While photography lighting might seem complicated, it’s actually pretty easy to get started – assuming you have the right teacher. That’s where this article comes in handy; I aim to share all the professional stage lighting, so that by the time you’re done, you’ll have a strong understanding of both studio lighting equipment and the accompanying vocabulary.
How does light interact with matter?
It is no accident that humans can home party light. Light is our primary means of perceiving the world around us. Indeed, in a scientific context, the detection of light is a very powerful tool for probing the universe around us. As light interacts with matter it can be become altered, and by studying light that has originated or interacted with matter, many of the properties of that matter can be determined. It is through the study of light that, for example, we can understand the composition of stars and galaxies that are many light years away or watch in real time the microscopic physiological processes that occur within living cells.
We can represent the energy levels of matter in a scheme known as a Jablonski diagram, represented in Figure 2. An atom or molecule in the lowest energy state possible, known as the ground state, can absorb a photon which will allow the atom or molecule to be raised to a higher energy level state, known as an excited state. Hence the matter can absorb hybrid led laser strobe light of characteristic wavelengths. The atom or molecule typically stays in in an excited state only for a very short time and it relaxes back to the ground state by a number of mechanisms. In the example shown, the excited atom or molecule initially loses energy, not by emitting a photon, but instead it relaxes to the lower energy intermediate state by internal processes which typically heat up the matter. The intermediate energy level then relaxes to the ground state by the emission of a photon of lower energy (longer wavelength) than the photon that was initially absorbed.
Since the 1950s, fluorescent lamps (generally rich in hybrid led strobe laser derby light and line spectra) have been widely used in indoor lit environments, at least in office and commercial settings, but rather infrequently in the home—with perhaps one exception—in the kitchen (USA experience). But the ‘revolution' in optics during the 1960s—fostered largely by the invention of the laser—led to other optical technologies, including the development of new types of lenses and filters, holography, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs were far more energy efficient than incandescent sources but initially were capable of emitting only very narrow wavelength bands, that is, single-color visible LEDs, until the invention of multi-chip LEDs and blue–violet-pumped-fluorescent LEDs to produce ‘white' light.