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Photography Question 
John Duncan

Tungsten Lighting

What lighting is suitable for studio lighting for flowers? Incandescent, I know, gives a reddish tone to things, but what about tungsten lights? I am referring here to constant tungsten lighting as opposed to flash.

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10/25/2005 3:19:23 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Are you shooting film or digital?
If digital ... set your white balance to match the lighting. If film is your capture medium, an 80-A filter with outdoor film (or a tungsten-balanced film) will correct the reddish tinge for either continuous light source.

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10/25/2005 4:00:04 PM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Bob is correct. Also just to make sure you know, incandescent is the same as tungsten. It's just referring to it in a different way. I believe the filament is tungsten and incandescent means something else but I'm not sure. Make sure that it's not a very precious flower if you plan to work long. By precious, I mean something you would give to a significant other but take photos of first ... lol. I did that and the flower didn't last too long. I think it was because of the heat from the lamps.

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10/27/2005 4:17:02 PM

Dan Fogelberg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/24/2005
One solution is to use tungsten film and 3200K bulbs for your lighting. Bulbs are rated for color "temperature," and can vary. Standard household light bulbs or spotlights might give a color temperature of 2850 degrees Kelvin, for instance. 3200 K is the pro standard. You'll need to go to a pro camera shop, though, because tungsten films and lights aren't generally available where consumer film is sold. I haven't bought this stuff for awhile, but I've used both Ektachrome and Fuji tungsten films (designated with a "T" after the film speed, like Ektachrome 160T). I've been using ISO 64 Fujichrome to take pictures of my pottery, and the colors seem accurate when used with the 3200 Kelvin bulbs.

If you have a reflector-type light unit, make sure it can handle the wattage of your bulbs, which I think come in both 250 and 500 watts, and run very hot. (They also are short-lived: mine are rated at about 7 hours.) Bowl-shaped reflectors (I use simple Smith-Victor units I bought years ago) work OK if you want definite shadows, but softer light is trickier unless you want to use flash and a soft box (then, you're back to daylight film). Those are nifty, but can be expensive. Since I'm cheap, I've come up with my own combinations of simple umbrella and reflector panels, and even bounce light off the ceiling or through white sheeting. I can use the same setup for digital, but do a custom white balance, since Nikon RAW capture defines tungsten as 2850K, and the bulbs are 3200K.

Again, be aware of how hot these bulbs are: I mounted fiberglass diffusion material a few inches in front of the bulb, and it burned through. The big advantage of matching film and light is that you can use any lens without a compensating filter.

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11/1/2005 6:27:44 PM

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