Photography with Continuous Fluorescent Lights


Senior Member
Dec 13, 2006
Hi all, I decided to post this thread specially dedicated to using CFL (Continuous Fluorescent Light). Please note that this is a thread purely to share knowledge relating to CFL and nothing else. Before I start anything I hope you guys will read first before posting anything.

This thread is strictly to share with one another on topics relating to CFL on:
All sort of Portraits,Poses, still life, products and etc photos (experimental/artistic and etc) taken using CFL or CFL with other equipments like flash/reflector and etc
Positive suggestions/tips in relation to postures/model posing
Set up of CFL to get certain type of lighting effects (eg. Butterfly Lighting)

Please don't post things like:
Sourcing for CFL (Please please don't do it here, you go google yourself or post your own WTB in Buy/Sell)
Nasty comments on the model's looks (him/her)
Comparing with others equipments (I truly believe that different type of photography equipment has it own unique strength and weakness) If you really want to compare, please post your own thread.
Portraits and Poses photos/works without any use of CFL

For any things relating to the following I have open up a thread at General, Reviews, Tech Talk. So do discuss over there instead
Technical knowledge in using CFL
Tips and tricks
How different brand of camera behave when using CFL
Auto White balance issues/theories/troubleshoot
Lights/CRI/Color temperature/full spectrum theory
Getting good images and how you achieve it with CFL
Thoughts and tips in combining other Equipments like flash/reflector and others
How different brand of fluorescents behave (heat/CRI/and etc)

General, Reviews, Tech Talk on CFL

That's about it...

Hope everyone will find this thread useful in someways. For guys who are CFL owners/non-owners, I hope we can make use of this and learn from each others.

An interesting quote: instead of giving a person a fish and feed him a day, why not teach him to fish so he can feed himself forever. So now we are fisherman and try to teach each others to fish with CFL. By the way I got this from a professional photographer, very meaningful

I did a test/fun shoot using CFL a few weeks back with few of my friends. Below is the spec

CFL: three 50x70cm (BW=bulb watts)
1st CFL's Fluorescent used: 32W 6500K x 4 = 640BW
2nd CFL's Fluorescent used: 20W 6500K x 4 (Philips) = 400BW
3rd CFL's Fluorescent used: 65W 6500K x 2 + 20W 6500K x 2 = 750BW
Ambient Light: None
Flash Use: No:
Camera used: Sony A100/Canon 40D
White Balance: AWB (auto white balance)
Use tripod: No
Sony A100 Anti Shake: Yes
Sony A100 ISO: 200 all the way
Canon 40D ISO: on Auto between 200-400

Below is the setup that we did before the shoot :)


The Model is Elaine, although is her first time doing an indoor portrait shoot. She did an absolutely fabulous job. We are very impressed by her fun/positive/professional attitude. :vhappy: . Thank you very very much Elaine and Wyn (from wee, hock and me)

Okay, lets get started... the images below is shot using the Sony A100. Slight green cast can be seen on these images. This is a on/off thingy on my A100 when using CFL. Reason is because of the Light temperature (6500K).


A100 photo 01


A100 photo 02

Below is the light setup for A100 photo 01 and 02. At first we want to achieve those very white background (high key) effects but found out that the BW for the two CFLs acting as back lights is not strong enough... I think I need two CFLs with 720BW each at least... So we decided to turn off the right CFL back light and these is what we got :)


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Same photos, but the slight green has been remove with Photoshop.



Okay, these two is photograph by my friend (Ah Wee), very talented full time photographer :cool:. For his Canon 40D, no green cast can be found on all his photo? His Canon 40D did a superb job in AWB


40D photo 01


40D photo 02

Light setup for 40D photo 01 and 02


This one also using just two CFLs.


Another set up, this one actually we want to get those very contrast shadow and hightlight shot... But because of the white walls reflecting the light back, the effect is not as what we expected. Two CFLs one below and top position on the side of the model. I should have bring along my black cardboards.

applaud you for what you're trying to do here but this might be the wrong section for this.

good job,..... i think alot of people will be inspired by what you wrote and demonstrated.

sometimes alot of good pics can be achieved by improvisation :)

singapore strobist community in the making :)

applaud you for what you're trying to do here but this might be the wrong section for this.

Hi all :) after considering, I have move all the below topics to General, Reviews, Tech Talk

So from now onwards, these topics will be discuss at General, Reviews, Tech Talk instead.
Technical knowledge in using CFL
Tips and tricks
How different brand of camera behave when using CFL
Auto White balance issues/theories/troubleshoot
Lights/CRI/Color temperature/full spectrum theory
Getting good images and how you achieve it with CFL
How different brand of fluorescents behave (heat/CRI/and etc)

Thanks Cheesecake :cool: for helping me moved the thread to here.

Anyway, the set up below is just a suggestion for photo 40D photo 02 . Besides using a flag (expensive) I normally used a A2 size black cardboard. If doing a full body shoot just used a few piece and stick together. Also can used black cloth (must be thick else the light still go thru)

Hi all, yesterday did a casual photo shoot session using CFLs so decided to share here.

Below is the equipment that I brought along:

Basically, three light stands, three CFLs (75x75, 70x50 and 50x50 octagon), Sony A100, One Minolta prime and two short zoom, 28-70 F2.8 G + 35-70 F4, extension cord, 36W full spectrum bulbs, Light meter, Shoot thru umbrellas, flash remote triggers + sync cord (but forgot to bring camera flash :sweat: oh man...)

All CFLs been set up before the shoot:

The shoot is done inside the master bedroom as it is not facing the noon sun, before the shoot we block or switch off all ambient/room light. So the only light source is from the CFL. The shooting space is quite small about 2m wide and 2.8m long.

The model is Miss Ice :kiss:, Super cool and sexy model/best friend who has did a excellent job for this shoot. thank you very much for letting us do a TFCD for you and letting us use your home to do the shoot. thank you thank you... :bsmilie: (From Wee and Me)

Now back to shoot, below is one of my favourite image taken by wee.

And below is the setup for this image,

Originally this is not what we plan, the high key background is suppose to lit up by using remote flashes. But since I forgot to bring the flash, we ended up having to used two smaller CFLs to light up the high key background which is six pieces of majong paper tape together to form a backdrop. Only one main light is use to lit the model.

Again his Canon 40D + (50mm F1.8) did a superb job in AWB. The color skin tone everything to me is excellent (my view)

image taken by me, not so good as I kinda blow off her face edges...

I wanted a really high key background so I decided to push my ISO to 400, but in doing so the light that bounce back from the majong paper kind of eat away/diffuse the edges from the side of her face... I am using AWB for this shot, so far all images free from green cast as I am using full spectrum bulbs, cool.

This is the actual setup that I wanted to do

We never did manage to try out this setup but I think we can get better result/higher F stop if we use this. Basically is a three light (+2 flash) setup, the 75x75 will be the main light from the side, another 50x70 act as a fill from opposite and the smallest 50x50 octagon act as a separation between the model and the background.

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image taken by me, an accident shoot that I just snap for fun while acting as the light assistant. Maybe not good in execution and etc, but I like it :)

Setup from the image above

We try out the one light, I never bring my black cardboard so we improvise by using a dark blue blanket (black give best result) tape to two light stand to act as a flag. The result is still not idea as the yellow wall still reflect light. But it thus create another kind of mood to it.

That's about it, hope you guys like it :)

Continuous Fluorescent Light (Technical)

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