Last week we delved into the world of Tungsten lighting and weighed the pros and cons. Today's discussion will be about strobe lighting. Light is created when a spark is thrown through a tube filled with gas. The result is a light with a very short duration. While that might seem like a disadvantage, it's actually not. The short duration means you need not fret about movement in your subject or camera. Another advantage of strobe lighting is that the light is the same color as daylight. If you remember from last week, Tungsten lighting is more yellowish in appearance.
Strobe lights are powerful little devices that need to be well maintained. The capacitor in the light can store nearly 4,000 watt-seconds –not a small number! Because you're receiving so much light from a small light source, the light can often be harsh. Light modifiers will be necessary to better control the light. Strobe lights need some form of reflector to control where the light is pointed. Umbrellas and softboxes are both excellent choices, which we discussed a few weeks ago.
Strobe lights are an essential part of studio photography and photography lighting equipment. They offer versatility and the most control. New users will quickly learn that you cannot see the effect the light has on the subject. A flash meter will be needed to determine exposure. Take a few test shots to see how they come out.