lighting bulb with filament hanging on the roof photo by Kaban-Sila on shutterstock

What is Tungsten Light, and How to Use it in Photography?

February 19, 2023

Tungsten light is a type of lighting you can use to create some stunning effects. This article will look at tungsten light, how to use it in photography, and some tips and tricks for getting the most out of it.

What is Tungsten Light?

Tungsten is a type of artificial light created by heating a tungsten filament to a high temperature. This type of light is often used in photography, as it can provide a very bright and intense light source. Tungsten light can be very helpful in creating dramatic lighting effects and providing a way to light a scene evenly. Tungsten light is usually a bit cooler than other artificial light types, making it ideal for photography.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Tungsten Light

Tungsten light has been used in photography for many years, and there are both advantages and disadvantages to using this type of light.

pretty woman holding a lighting bulb in hand

Photo by fokusgood on shutterstock


  • Tungsten light bulbs can last for many years without needing to be replaced. This is a big advantage over other types of light sources, which need to be replaced much more frequently.
  • It is very bright and provides a lot of light for photography. This is especially helpful when photographing in low-light situations.
  • It is very inexpensive. Tungsten light is very cheap compared to other types of light, making it a great option for those on a budget.
  • Easy to control. This is because the light is produced by a single source, which can be easily positioned to provide the desired amount of illumination.
  • Tungsten light is also very consistent, which means it will produce the same light each time it is used. This can be very helpful when trying to achieve a specific look in a photograph.
  • Tungsten light creates nighttime effects and is used extensively in film and television production. It creates a warm, inviting ambiance when used in bulbs for general lighting. When used in photography, it can produce very natural-looking lighting.

back of a dressed woman standing on stair

Photo by 3777190317 on shutterstock

  • Long-term projects frequently use tungsten because of its capacity to burn for extended periods without losing its color temperature.


  • One of the main disadvantages of tungsten light is that it can be very harsh and produce a lot of glare. This can make it difficult to get good photos, especially in portrait photography.
  • Tungsten light can be very hot, making it uncomfortable to work with for extended periods.

What is Tungsten Light Used for in Photography?

You can use tungsten light in different ways in photography like:

1. Adding Warmth

Tungsten light has a hot color temperature, which you can use to your advantage. You can use it to add warmth to a photo. The warm tones will add a touch of glow to your photo.

2. Creating Bokeh

beautiful girl looking at bokeh lights

Photo by Vasilchenko Nikita on shutterstock

Given its brightness, tungsten light is frequently used to produce stunning bokeh. When using a large aperture lens, the light from the tungsten source will create a very good and pronounced bokeh effect. Ensure you place something behind your subject to make the bokeh stand out.

3. Create Silhouette

Due to its brightness, tungsten light can be used to produce silhouettes. When using tungsten light to create a silhouette, the photographer must be careful not to overexpose the background. If the background is overexposed, the silhouette will not be as visible.

To create a silhouette, the photographer must place the light source behind the subject and then use a long exposure time. This will allow the light to cast a shadow onto the surface in front of the subject. The silhouette will be visible because the subject will be darker than the background.

4. Make Daylight Look Like Nighttime

cat looking at the camera by sitting near a stone pillar

Photo by baypinar on shutterstock

Tungsten light is often used to make daylight look like nighttime in photography. Tungsten light has a very warm color temperature, making daylight look blue and giving the illusion of night.

5. Work With Stage Light

Tungsten light is a type of light that is often used in stage lighting. This is because tungsten light is very bright, and it is also very easy to control. Tungsten light is also very inexpensive, which makes it a good choice for stage lighting.

6 Tips for Tungsten Light Photography

1. Use It as a Backlight

To create a dreamy, atmospheric look, use tungsten light as a backlight. This means positioning your light source behind your subject so that it casts a warm, ethereal glow. To get the best results, experiment with different positioning and angles until you find the perfect balance of light and shadow. You may also want to diffuse your light source, using a thin fabric or a translucent diffuser to soften the effect.

2. Change the White Balance

room corner with a hanging lighting bulb

Photo by Orest Drozda on shutterstock

If you're shooting in a tungsten light, you'll want to adjust your white balance to compensate for the orange color of the light. You can do this in your camera's menu system or post-processing. If you're shooting in JPEG, it's best to do it in camera, as you won't be able to recover as much detail in the shadows and highlights if you adjust the white balance in post.

3. Using Several Lights

If you want to create a tungsten light photography effect, using multiple lights is a great way to do it. Using multiple lights, you can create different levels of light and shadow, adding depth and dimension to your photos. Additionally, using multiple lights can help you create a more even light distribution, which is essential for tungsten light photography.

4. Combine Tungsten Light With Evening Light

lighting bulb on the mottled old wall

Photo by Evannovostro on shutterstock

Combining tungsten light with evening light is one way to achieve a stunning and one-of-a-kind effect in your tungsten light photography. This can have a welcoming and warm effect and a dramatic and moody one.

Place your subject near a window with evening light to achieve this effect. Then, illuminate the remainder of the scene using your tungsten light source. This will give your photos an amazing warm/cool contrast, making them stand out.

5. Make a Natural Look

Use a tungsten light with a diffuser to create a natural look in your photos. The diffuser will soften the light and help to create a more even distribution of light, which will help to create a more natural look in your photos. You can also use a tungsten light with a reflector to create a more natural look by bouncing the light off the reflector and onto your subject.

girl sitting under a tree on the night street

Photo by Isabell Schatz on shutterstock

6. Shoot at the Golden Hour

Warm light produced by a tungsten light source enhances a photograph more during the golden hour than it would if it were taken in natural light. This light is especially flattering for portraits, as it can create a soft, romantic feel. When photographing with tungsten light during the golden hour, be sure to use a white balance setting that will correct for the orange hue of the light.


Tungsten light is a type of light that is often used in photography. This light is created by heating a tungsten filament to a high temperature. Tungsten light is inexpensive, easy to control, and creates a warm, natural-looking light. You can use this type of light to create stunning effects in photography.

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