Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)

Started May 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
FlowBerlin
Forum MemberPosts: 61
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Re: Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)
In reply to Sailor Blue, Aug 10, 2013

Sailor Blue wrote:

FlowBerlin wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

Contrary to what FlowBerlin says, the closer it is to your subject the larger it will be with respect to the subject so the softer the light from it will be.

That's not contrary to what I said, since I didn't say anything about soft or hard light. What I was referring to is that the closer you bring a lightsource (of any size) to the subject, the more contrasty the light by itself will get – which is simply because the relative differences (i.e. nose vs. ears) to the light source become larger.

Hard light is high contrast light, i.e. the highlights and shadows have sharp edges and the shadows are very dark with respect to the highlights.

From page 19 of "Light Science and Magic:

Contrast

The third important characteristic of a photographic light is its
contrast. A light source has high contrast if its rays all strike the
subject from nearly the same angle. Light rays from a low-
contrast source strike the subject from many different angles.
Sunlight on a clear day is a common example of a high-contrast
light source. Notice that the rays of sunlight in Figure 2.4 are
parallel to one another. They all strike the subject at the same
angle.

As you bring the light closer to the subject the light gets softer since its relative size to the subject increases. The result is that light is striking the subject from more angles, which is what softens the edges of the highlights and shadows.

As you bring the light closer to the subject the light also wraps around the face to fill in the shadows so you don't get the high contrast you get from hard light.

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Hard light will always be more contrast, but more contrast  won't always be hard light. You can have very soft, yet contrasty light. As I said above. The closer you bring a light source to the subject, the more within-subject contrast you will have. Not from the shadows, but from the relative distances of the subject's features to the light source.

Put your subject in front of a wall with a distance of 3 feet or something. But the light source directly in front of the subject and set it to be correct on the subject. Image: Subject in front of dark background. High contrast between subject and background.

Take the light source further away, increase the power to still light the subject properly. Result: Background gets lighter. Lower contrast between subject and background.

Now if you transfer this logic to i.e. a face you will get the same behavior for the face, i.e. the nose vs. the ears. The further away the light source from the subject, the lower the relative distances to the light source, hence the lower the within-subject contrast.

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