Deeppara90 "Parabolic reflector" and central focusing pole thoughts and mini review

Started 9 months ago | User reviews thread
Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 15,527
Re: Unique qualities of paras

ronscuba wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

I have a hard time distinguishing the difference between soft and diffused.

I have a 32" softbox that has 2 layers of diffusion, a grid and a deflector plate. The softness is the same regardless of the mix of the options ? The biggest differences I see are:

- bare, no diffusion, no grid, no deflector

- bare with the deflector

- double diffused with grid

- double diffused no grid

Double diffused is the most flattering. I would normally say the softest. I guess this is the wrong terminology ? Adding the grid keeps the light off the background and adds some contrast to the subject.

What is the correct terminology for the differences I see ?

Softness is about shadow transition and diffusion is about skin texture ? So for less than ideal skin, diffusion is the key ?

Soft light vs hard light is all about shadow edges,

Use your 32" softbox without diffusers at a distance of 48" to put you approximately the mid point of the normal range for a diffuse light source. Take a test shot of a subject with Short Lighting. Then add the inner and outer diffusers and take another shot. Compare the sharpness of the edges of the loop of shadow from the nose. That is the difference between hard and soft light.

Portrait Lighting - Project 3 - Portrait Lighting Set-Ups

The reason for using soft light for portraits is that it makes the edges of the shadows less sharp, which "fuzzes" out the shadows cast by things like the "bags" under the eyes or the edges of the pores in the skin. If done properly you don't want to "soften" the skin in a portrait, just fuzz out the shadows a bit more. You can do this by using something like the High Pass filter to preserve the skin details and a blur layer to smooth out shadows and adjust the size and brightness of shadows and colored areas.

So now we go full circle. Some say softness is about size of the modifier and diffusion is different. Your explanation is the light got softer by adding diffusion. This is why I am confused about the terminology of soft vs diffused. There does not appear to be a clear consensus.

For my modifiers , I think of it as how flattering do I need the light to be, how much coverage and do I need to limit where the light goes.

As Macro guy said, "Hard light is directional. Soft light is scattered."

Adding the right amount of diffuser fabric to a softbox makes it a source of soft light.

How soft that light is when it reaches the subject depends on the relative size of the diffuser vs the subject.

The classic example of a hard light source is the sun, but the sun is a diffuse source of light that is many times greater in diameter than the Earth, it is just so far from the Earth that it is relatively small.

A 32" diffuse light source located 20' from a head shot subject is a hard light source since the 32" soft light is relatively small compared to the subject.

A 32" diffuse light source located 32" from the head shot subject is a nice soft light source since it is relatively large compared to the subject.

The general guidelines are:

1. For portrait quality soft light you want a diffuse source of light that is as large as or larger than the subject.

2. For the best combination of softness and light fall off across the subject you position that diffuse light source at a distance between 1 and 2 diameters/diagonals of the diffuse light source away from the subject.

A good amount of light fall off gives you clear highlights and shadows that aren't black, and it is highlights and shadows that give a flat image a 3D appearance.

3. Closer than 1 diameter/diagonal the light is even softer but the light fall off becomes extreme, meaning that if you properly expose the subject's diffuse highlight that is closest to the light source* the shadows will become excessively dark. If you want extreme softness from your light source you can use a fill light to lighten the shadows to the proper darkness.

4. Between 2 and 3 diameters/diagonals the light becomes harder and the amount of light fall off across the subject decreases to the point that the loss of highlights and shadows gives you a flat boring 2D image.

5. Beyond about 3 diameters/diagonals the light has become so hard that the diffuser is worthless. You are better off taking it off and using the metal bowl reflector with your strobe to give you more light on the subject.

* The proper exposure for a portrait is based on the brightest diffuse highlight, which is generally on the cheek closest to the main light source.

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