JUNE 2022




Hello Ladies & Gentlemen:

Thank you for being here for this months blog post and if not too much trouble, would you be kind enough to acknowledge that you actually frequent my site and review my blog articles. You could send me a quick E-mail reply by hitting the contact key on my website. I would appreciate hearing from you seeing to the fact that I am trying to provide all of you with good, sound advice in your photography. Often, when composing articles featuring beneficial detail, one never knows with any levels of certainty if they are in fact actually being read. Thank you for this in advance!

Today I would like to discuss with you a topic in photography which in today’s time frame, is seldom made reference to which is tungsten lighting.


Often when I am creating people/product imagery it is made using tungsten studio lights and when I am creating architectural imagery outdoor, it is made using available tungsten lightening that the city produces at night time. City lights at night time are primarily tungsten or mercury vapour or otherwise and fit the category of tungsten. The camera in both instances is set to the “incandescent” setting to record the night time colours with as much accuracy as possible.

This type of lighting for those of you who might not be familiar with it has many advantages over electronic flash depending upon the circumstances of your photo session. Tungsten lighting is quite literally, “artificial light” meaning lights that burn constantly as opposed to electronic flash which emits a remarkably short burst of light. These lights are found in your home such as table lamps, overhead ceiling can lights, desk lamps etc. These tungsten lights are also situated across the city at nighttime illuminating buildings and street scenes.

So, why would I suggest you explore this type of lighting? Firstly, because I have been using it for years and have recognized it’s level of predictability in comparison to electronic flash plus it’s ability to permit you to use slow shutter speeds which can be a very creative method of image creation. Tungsten lighting is a warm style of light registering at approximately 3200-3400 degrees on a Kelvin scale. Daylight lighting camera settings are set to record light from primarily the sun or auxiliary flash attachments at approximately 6500 degrees Kelvin.

If you have ever noticed late in the day when you are in your home and creating pictures with electronic flash that table lamps appear to have a greater warm yellow-orange-red appearance to them, this is because daylight exposure settings are not balanced to record tungsten/indoor light accurately. They are two completely different mediums. When indoors, when you set a slower shutter speed on your camera, the greater the glow from table lamps. The higher the shutter speed, the glow almost seems to disappear.

*Today’s digital cameras have an excellent feature incorporated in their “White Balance” design which is the option of setting the camera up to record several photography lighting situations accurately such as outdoors in sunlight, cloudy days, shade, indoors/incandescent, Auto.

Now….let’s use specific examples to clarify Tungsten in more depth which I used to produce portraits of people and product photography.


Disclaimer* My tungsten studio lights hold a 150 watt bulb and the canister-(exterior housing) is constructed out of metal. The exterior of these lights can get very hot and a word of caution is directed to you the reader at this point. Children should “NEVER” be situated in the proximity of these lights if you acquire them. Even an adult can get a burn particularly when the lights have been left on for a long duration. Simple caution when using these lights being nothing less than common sense is all that is required and the heat effect from these lights should not prevent you from using them if care is taken. I have a pair of gloves I slip on when I have to place my hands on the exterior, metal areas of the lights, and have never suffered any ill effects. Again, simple common sense prevails.

I have been requested to photograph products for clients over several years, and almost without exception I will use the tungsten/incandescent setting on my camera. One of the primary reasons I choose this is because of the old analogy, “what you see is what you get”. This is a benefit that electronic flash cannot provide you with since flash light is so brief, and you cannot judge it’s effects on your product. With tungsten lights, they are continuous burning lights and their exact placement and effect can be judged long before the shutter is released on your camera. Many of my students over previous years have been completely unaware of the performance level of tungsten lights being used as either a spotlight or a fill light. One not need invest a great deal of money on these lights when purchased “used”. In fact, they are remarkably inexpensive on the second hand market in comparison to brand new lights from camera stores. However, in saying that for your benefit, I have elected to provide you with information directly below of a reputable lighting company that you may wish to explore at your leisure. There are large camera stores in the United States such as B & H photo–( ), Adorama-( ) for example who stock such lighting equipment.

As just mentioned, I wish to provide you with the name of a company who manufactures tungsten lighting and they are known as “ARRI”. This is just one of a few companies and a simple internet search will provide you with additional information.

One of the models Arri produces is the 650watt Plus Fresnel light which features smooth focusing and a bright, even beam of light. Smooth focusing meaning….the actual light inside the unit is mounted on a movable rack which can adjust the light bulb closer or farther away from the front fresnel glass. The beam angle is variable and in a flood position for a broader spread of light which is 52degrees, and in a spot mode it is 14.5 degrees for more critical placement of the light. This light may be purchased individually or in a kit. The exterior housing is also ribbed which means you will recognize less heat being transmitted to the exterior housing. This unit can accept 300, 500 or 650 watt bulbs for greater flexibility. This light in Canadian funds can run you $780 per light when purchased brand new.

*Currently on at the following link, there are many Arri lights for you to consider…….

Another reason for using tungsten lighting in my studio is background control. Frequently when doing product photography, I will access background lights either with or without coloured gels to add colour to the background for enhancement of the product. My backdrop is often a 9 foot wide piece of seamless paper being either grey, black or white in tone. I have worked out a system of predictability when using coloured gels on background lights. Depending upon the intensity and colour of the gel -(which is draped over the background light), I can alter it’s effect by changing the shutter speed on my camera and aperture. This offers a luxury with each coloured gel meaning, you don’t have to purchase a large quantity of gels because you now have the flexibility in altering the colour and density of each. I can begin with a gels true colour, then by altering the exposure on my camera, can change the colour to a darker or lighter colour suiting several moods I am attempting to achieve.

On my next article, I will include a few images showing the effects of tungsten lighting for your benefit and until next then, let me take this opportunity to thank you again for being here and allowing me to be your host.

With My Good Wishes Extended,

Jeff Ryan Photography/Ryan Studio