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This post was most recently updated on June 26th, 2022

A good understanding of lighting is an important part of the repertoire of any photographer.

Whether you’re shooting sports, nature, art, or portraiture, there will always be opportunities to use different kinds of lighting to achieve your photographic vision.

There are many ways to light a scene and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

The most common types of lights used in photography include flash, strobe, and continuous light.

If you are new to photography or setting up lighting to create your perfect shot, then you might be a little confused about the differences between these, and why you might want to use them in different scenarios.

If you find yourself wanting to know more, then you’ve come to the right place! Below is a guide that will outline the three major kinds of lighting, as well as the appropriate times to use them!

We’ve also added a short FAQ section at the end of this article to define some of the more technical terms that we use. Let’s get shooting!

What Is Flash Photography?

What Is Flash Photography

The term “flash” can refer to two things: the actual device that produces the flash, and the way it works.

Flash refers to the actual device that produces flashes of light when needed.

This could be anything from a camera-mounted flash unit, which is attached to the lens and fires off a burst of light whenever the shutter button is pressed, to a studio strobe, which is mounted on a stand and fired by remote control.

When using flash, the flash itself does not produce light; instead, it triggers the exposure of the camera sensor.

When the flash goes off, the shutter opens briefly to let the light into the camera and closes again immediately after the image is captured.

Why Use Flash?

Let’s take a little look at some of the reasons why you should use flash!

Art Photography

Flash is used in art photography to create specific moods and to achieve an artistic vision. For example, a picture taken with flash can make a subject appear more dramatic than it is.

Portrait Photography

Portraits are often shot using flash because they need to be lit from above so that the subject’s face is not too dark.

The light source should also be as close to the camera lens as possible for best results.

Nature Photography

Nature photographers use flash to illuminate their subjects against a bright background. They may use strobe lights or continuous lights to do this.

Sport & Action Photography

Flash is used by sports photographers to freeze action. This type of photography requires fast shutter speeds, which cannot be achieved without flash.

Landscape Photography

Flash is useful when photographing landscapes because it allows you to take pictures at night without having to rely on artificial lights.

Sports Photography

Sports photographers use flash to illuminate their subjects. This helps them capture action shots while keeping their subjects’ faces.

What Is Strobe?

What Is Strobe

A strobe is an external light source that is triggered by a photographer. It is usually used in combination with other lighting techniques such as ambient light, but it can also be used alone.

A strobe creates light by producing bursts of electricity through chemical reactions inside a tube called a flash head. These flashes are very powerful, allowing them to be used indoors or outdoors.

Strobes are commonly used in professional photography studios, where they are controlled remotely via a flash controller. In this case, the flash is triggered by pressing a button on the flash head.

However, there are also handheld models available that allow users to trigger the flash manually.

Why Use Strobe?

Let’s look quickly at some of the reasons you should use a strobe.

Photography

Strobes are used in photography to provide illumination for indoor and outdoor events.

They are most commonly used during parties, weddings, concerts, fashion shows, product shoots, etc.

Art Photography

Strobes are sometimes used in art photography to add drama to images. They can be used to highlight objects, people, or even the environment around them.

Landscape Photography

Using a strobe in landscape photography gives you a chance to shoot at night without relying on artificial lights. You can then capture the beauty of nature at its best.

Sports Photography

Sports photographers use strobes to illuminate their subjects. They can be used either to keep their subjects’ faces visible, or to enhance their movement.

What Is Continuous Light?

What Is Continuous Light

Continuous light is a special kind of light that comes from natural sources like sunlight, moonlight, fireflies, lightning, etc.

It does not require any additional equipment to work. Natural light often offers a source of constant lighting that does not need to be managed in the same way artificial lights do.

Why Use Continuous Light?

Let’s look quickly at the reasons why you should use continuous light.

Photography

Continuous light is ideal for taking photos of people who are not moving. It will give your subjects a soft, natural look.

Art Photography

Continuous light is perfect for creating abstract pieces of art. It provides a softer, more impressionistic look.

Landscape Photography

Continuous light is great for capturing beautiful scenery. It lets you see the true colors of flowers and plants.

Sports Photography

Continuous light is helpful when shooting sports scenes because it makes it easier to get clean, sharp images.

How To Choose Between Flash Vs. Continuous Light?

There are many different types of light sources out there. Some are better than others depending on what type of photo you want to create.

For example, if you’re trying to make a portrait, you might want to use flash.

If you’re trying to capture a scene authentically, you might prefer using continuous light.

Which One Is Better For Portraits?

If you want to take professional-looking portraits, you’ll probably want to use flash. It’s the easiest way to control the lighting in the room where you’re taking pictures.

But if you want to capture the real mood of a moment, you should try using continuous light instead. This will let you show off the subject’s personality in a much more realistic way.

Which One Is Better For Landscapes?

When you’re trying to capture something really beautiful outdoors, continuous light is going to help you do so. The soft, ambient light will make everything look more natural.

Flash won’t produce as good results since it creates harsh shadows.

Which One Is Best For Sports?

If you’re trying to capture fast action, you may need to use flash. Since it produces a very short burst of light, it allows you to freeze motion.

On the other hand, continuous light will give you a longer exposure time. This means that you’ll have more time to frame your shot before the action starts again.

Which One Is The Best Choice For Still Life?

Still, life shots are usually done with continuous light. This is because it helps you avoid having distracting shadows and highlights.

With flash, you’ll end up with some areas that are too dark and some that are too bright.

Which One Is Most Useful For Creative Purposes?

You don’t always need to stick to just one type of light source. Sometimes it’s fun to mix them all. For instance, you could use both flash and continuous light to create a unique effect.

Or you could combine flash with continuous light to add a little bit of sparkle to your image.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! The answer to which is better out of flash, strobe, and continuous is down to your taste.

You have to try and consider what you are trying to achieve with your photography, and decide which kind of lighting will help you to take the best photos possible!

Remember – the most important thing is getting an image that looks great, and lighting is just one tool to get this done.

Photography has often been compared to ‘painting with light’ so it’s very important to use it as though it were your friend.

We hope that this article has told you everything you need to know about lighting within photography and that you now feel more confident in selecting the type you’d like to use for your project!

If you still have questions, check below for our FAQ section!

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you leave us today, get your last-minute questions answered here!

What Is Natural Light?

Natural light is any light that comes from the sun or moon. It can be reflected off clouds or bounced off objects such as windows or mirrors.

This is generally constant light that only changes as the day moves on.

Is Fluorescent Light Good For Photography?

Yes, but not all types of fluorescent lights are created equal. Some of them are designed specifically for photography, while others aren’t.

Fluorescent bulbs come in many different shapes and sizes. Make sure that you choose ones that are specifically made for photography.

They are also available in cool white, warm white, and daylight versions.

How Do I Set My Camera To Manual Mode?

This depends on your camera model. Most DSLRs have a button labeled “M” or “A”. Pressing this button will open up the manual settings menu.

Here you can adjust your shutter speed, aperture setting, and ISO sensitivity.

What Is The Difference Between f/1.4 And f/2.8?

The focal length refers to how far away something appears in the photo. When we talk about wide-angle lenses, we mean those with a shorter focal length than normal lenses.

Lenses with longer focal lengths are known as telephoto lenses. The smaller the number, the wider the angle of view.

So if you’re using a lens with a focal length of 1.4, then you would be taking pictures at around 1.4 times further away than when you used a lens with a focal length of 2.8.