Shooting in a Studio with Strobe or Natural Light

Aspiring and professional photographers alike have varying opinions as to which is better; strobe lighting or natural lighting? Which will give you a better end result? Each type of lighting offers its own set of pros and cons and you might find that mastering both of these lighting techniques can be beneficial to achieve different looks.

Mark Tiu Photographer

Photography At The Studio With Natural Lighting

Pros of Natural Lighting:

1. Cost efficient

The use of natural lights comes to no extra cost for you or your clients. Natural light is readily available to use without having to include it into your budget. This is often the number one reason many newer photographers tend to favor using natural light over strobe lighting. While you will want to spend a little on reflectors or diffusers these can be acquired at a low price and are easy to find so you won’t have to special order these items.

2. Easy to learn and is a good starting point

Shooting with natural light can be very forgiving. Even if you are just starting out as a photographer it can be easy to get some great shots using the available light, even if just by accident. Cameras are by default designed for use in natural light settings, therefore learning how to shoot in natural light can be quickly learned. This allows photographers to better master the skill of manipulating light through the use of their camera alone. Aside from learning the technical components such as shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, you can take a pretty simple and straightforward approach to your shoots. If you want to utilize soft lighting you would choose to shoot in the early morning or early evening light, for a more hard light you would choose to use the light from the midday or afternoon sun.

3. A natural look

Shooting in the natural sunlight can be very appealing to those who want a more realistic style. Images are often more airy and are viewed as easier to relate to. Photographers that can position themselves as having an all natural style may find themselves more appealing to a wide range of clientele.

Cons of Natural Lighting:

1. Limited and dependable

You have a very small window to shoot in when you are relying on natural light. If you want to take advantage of the soft light then you have just a few hours in the morning and possibly in the evening to shoot. For harsh lighting, you only have those hours in the afternoon to use. While natural light can be relied on for just about any day you choose to shoot you will have to consult your local weather channel to ensure you won’t have to be working against mother nature as well.

2. Inconsistent and unpredictable

While you will have a number of shots that you can arrange and rely on a consistent light source, natural light can be incredibly unpredictable. You will have to make regular adjustments to your camera settings when clouds block out the sunlight while also taking into consideration that light will vary from time of day to the season you shoot in. This leads to variations in the color the light gives off from warm to cooler hues.

Photography At The Studio With Strobe Lighting

Pros of Strobe Lighting:

Full control

One major advantage of using strobe lighting in a studio is the ability to have complete control over the lighting. Without having to deal with the unpredictability of natural lighting you have free range to manipulate the light in the exact way you want when you want regardless the time of day. You can easily have soft or hard lighting, backlighting, side lighting, and any other combination when you are setting up the lights to accomplish what you vision for the shoot. If you have a day-long shoot and need to keep light and color consistent, strobe would be the best option.

Versatility

There is a lot you can accomplish with strobe lighting which would seem to be nearly impossible when working with natural lighting. Strobe lighting is very versatile not only with the hard or softness of the light but the tone and contrast. You can have simple one light setups or multiple light setups which can even be placed to imitate natural light.

Little restrictions

When using artificial strobe lighting you have little to no restriction. You can set up the lights and shoot at any time of day without worrying about the light changing or clouds getting in the way. Shooting is done on your own schedule and with your own timeline. There is no need to worry if you will miss the great soft light of the morning or run out of time before harsher afternoon light starts to fade.

Cons of Strobe Lighting:

Lighting equipment tends to be pricey

Strobe lighting can get quite expensive. While there are many lighting kits you can purchase you can easily expect to spend a thousand dollars or more not just for the lights but for stands, batteries, cables and more. On top of the lighting equipment itself, you will also need to consider the electricity cost you will need to cover from having and using so many different lights at one time for an extended amount of time.

Involves more knowledge

Unlike with natural lighting, you will almost never accidentally take a great photo using strobe lighting. While natural light offers a much greater learning curve using artificial strobe lights in a studio requires an extensive array of knowledge. Using strobe lighting will take a bit longer to learn, master and truly understand how to properly set up the lights for a desired effect.

In Conclusion

So, which is better strobe or natural lighting when shooting in the studio? Both offer some great benefits and both will result in stunning images. Natural lighting can give images a more airy and realistic aspect. Strobe lighting can lead to more dramatic and artistic images. It really comes down to your own personal preference, budget, vision and client needs. If you have a large window that you can utilize natural light in a studio, definitely do so but also become familiar with strobe lighting. Remember, lighting is the key element for great photography.