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

Started 10 months ago | User reviews
Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 12,691
Re: Unique qualities of paras

ronscuba wrote:

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

Me, too. One thing to keep in mind is that a small source will still cast hard-edged shadows no matter how many layers of diffusion you put in front of it. I could speculate (no pun intended) that perhaps the main effect of diffusion is to reduce specular highlights, although I'm not even sure of that. I know from experience what different sources look like, but I've never thought or read enough about it to explain the physics.

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 ?

Perhaps SailorBlue will step in here. He seems to know everything and has a knack for explaining complex subjects.

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ronscuba Contributing Member • Posts: 707
Re: Unique qualities of paras

Found an interesting video showing the differences between same size parabolic umbrellas. Shoot through, white reflect, silver reflect.  No idea how close they are to true parabolic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIwm0o2ZtPk

Nixon Glenn Contributing Member • Posts: 587
Re: Unique qualities of paras

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Good on ya for doing this kind of careful testing and sharing the results. I'll just add a couple of considerations that seem missing.

First, the "hardness" of light is largely determined by the size of the source as seen from the subject's position. Thus, a large focused para in close can create soft highlight/shadow transitions, despite the collimated nature of the light. I use a 5' Paul C Buff PLM this way for portraits. The light, as you say, does look "sunny", i.e. contrasty, due to the shiny silver surface of my PLM. But, it also looks soft, thanks to the large size of the PLM. This makes a fairly unique look. You don't often see contrasty and soft together, at least not indoors.

Well, it's because there is no perfect parabolic modifiers except if the surface is super smooth and mirror-like.

With PLM, which is not perfect parabolic, the light not 100% paralel. Some small part of the light is scattered and hit the shadow part which can be seen in photos I posted, where the edge of the shadow is not crisp as if using bare head strobe.

It's still a hard light and not soft at all.

Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 12,691
Re: Unique qualities of paras

Nixon Glenn wrote:

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Good on ya for doing this kind of careful testing and sharing the results. I'll just add a couple of considerations that seem missing.

First, the "hardness" of light is largely determined by the size of the source as seen from the subject's position. Thus, a large focused para in close can create soft highlight/shadow transitions, despite the collimated nature of the light. I use a 5' Paul C Buff PLM this way for portraits. The light, as you say, does look "sunny", i.e. contrasty, due to the shiny silver surface of my PLM. But, it also looks soft, thanks to the large size of the PLM. This makes a fairly unique look. You don't often see contrasty and soft together, at least not indoors.

Well, it's because there is no perfect parabolic modifiers except if the surface is super smooth and mirror-like.

Of course. But, the cone of light coming out of my (discontinued) Extreme Silver 64" PLM is pretty tight at normal working distances. At 15' from the source, the circle of light only about 7', which enables good control over light reaching the backdrop. I measured the spread and did calculations and measurements, and found that exposure varied only about 1/10 stop between 3' and 6' from the source. Handy! However, if you want to use feathering at the edges of the light, this is not the mod to use, as the falloff is quite abrupt.

With PLM, which is not perfect parabolic, the light not 100% paralel. Some small part of the light is scattered and hit the shadow part which can be seen in photos I posted, where the edge of the shadow is not crisp as if using bare head strobe.

Exactly. Light from the left edge of the mod will still fill in shadows cast by light from the right edge. However, as you point out, because the light is (semi-) collimated, you need a larger mod for this with a para than you would with a scattered/diffused mod. If you've got the space, an 86" soft silver PLM could be a lot of fun, and it's just $69.95. I use the 64" version because my shoots are all on location and conference rooms have low ceilings.

It's still a hard light and not soft at all.

Bigger ones are softer than smaller ones, which is true for all mods. I find my bare 64" Extreme Silver PLM at close range (about 5') yields nice shadow/highlight transitions. Extreme Silver has been discontinued, and Soft Silver would be...um...softer (duh). If you want a flatter, less contrasty look, you can just throw an optional scrim on it. Makes this mod exceptionally versatile. And, it's cheap.

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MayaTlab0 Senior Member • Posts: 2,982
Re: Unique qualities of paras

ronscuba wrote:

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

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 ?

While some terms have a precise definition that entails precise results, such as "parabolic reflector", from which it would be preferable not to diverge excessively unless one dares to risk the basic meaning of it (the idea of a white parabolic reflector makes no sense whatsoever, it's practically an oxymoron), I don't think that there is an agreed, constant and fairly clear definition of "diffused" or "soft".

To me "diffused" rather refers to a light source that's been transformed by something between it and the subject, while "soft" would rather be about the size of the light source from the subject's point of view, but I've seen these terms used in other ways and to be frank I'm not sure it's that important in the first place.

In general I just look at what the light source looks like from the subject's point of view (and if there are several it may vary between them), what the beam angle is, and which objects / walls the light source bounce back from, and that's already quite a lot of information to work with.

I made this a while ago :

To me the B2 head would be what I'd term "hard". The light source is very small from the mannequin's POV (that's visible in the reflections on its breasts), the shadow edge very sharp.

The two lower left silver umbrella shots are to me somewhat equally "soft", the shadow edge being roughly equally diffused, but the left one less "contrasty" (if you were to drop a RGB tool on the shadow the values would be higher than on the middle one). I believe that it is because of the beam angle : in the lower left shot I used a diffusion sock over the umbrella (visible in the different reflections in the breasts), this widens the beam angle and bounce light from the room.

The bottom right one if the same silver umbrella as the middle shot, but with the umbrella shaft shifted relative to the light source. In this configuration only the central area of the umbrella bounces light back towards the subject, making for a smaller light, and a slightly harder shadow.

Going back to terminology concerns, the deep octa naked shot starts to make things a little more difficult : is it soft ? or hard ? There's like two hard edges with the central area being a lot more contrasty than the outer one.

Which is why I don't get too worked up about terms like "soft" or "hard". In the end it's just about what it looks like from the mannequin's point of view, and something that the reflections on the breasts (or in real life a catchlight in someone's eye for example) make explicit to some degree.

Nixon Glenn Contributing Member • Posts: 587
Re: Unique qualities of paras
1

These were using Dynalite para 180 (rod curve very close to parabolic curve).

Left : strobe facing forward with no diffuser or deflector

Center : strobe facing forward with deflector and inner + front diffiser

Right : strobe facing backward at focus point

the right one is softer than bare strobe but I won't consider it soft light

Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 15,527
Re: Unique qualities of paras

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.

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ronscuba Contributing Member • Posts: 707
Re: Unique qualities of paras

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.

Macro guy
Macro guy Veteran Member • Posts: 5,127
Re: Unique qualities of paras

ronscuba wrote:

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.

Hard light is directional. Soft light is scattered. If you use a large modifier, it scatters the light no matter what it is (unless it's a true parabolic). A small light lource is bounced in a modifier one way or another and scatters the light. Therefore, larger light sources produce softer light than smaller ones because they cover a broader area.

Some materials scatter the light more (diffuse) and some scatter less. The more the light is scattered, the softer it is. A large light source is not pin pointed, so it scatters the light more than a small source. Add a layer of diffusion and you're scattering more. Add another layer and you're scattering the light even more. Point the light source at the modifier and abounce the light and through two layers of diffusion and now you have a really soft light.

So, you control the light's softness by selecting the size of your modifier, material and whether your light is pointing at the subject or reflecting off the modifier.

Hope this helps.

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OP Scrollop Contributing Member • Posts: 796
Re: Unique qualities of paras

Here are some shots comparing different modifies on an inanimate head.

Head and camera kept at same angle. Light is at aprox 45 degrees to better illustrate light falloff (even the beauty dish which you'd normally use in a butterfly position, I believe).

I thought I'd do this to better understand how the deeppara90 shapes light, so to know when to use it to achieve the look I'm going for.

Tried to keep exposures constant, though not easy when some of the modifiers are high in contrast. 105mm lens at 1/250, F8. Strobe: godox 400ws gs400II, except fwhen testing the deeppara90 where an AD600 was used.

1) 120cm octabox, 2 layers of diffusion, 120cm from bulb to head, Power: 1/4 + 0.7. Soft shdaow trnsition, as expected.

2) 55cm white Beauty dish and grid,110cm bulb to head , Power: 1/2
3) 55cm white Beauty dish; 110cm distance, Power: 1/8 + 0.7 110cm
4) 7 inch Reflector; 110cm distance, 1/32 (lowest setting for this strobe; 110cm distance; should have moved the light back, perhaps to reduce the exposure, though th end result was always going to be the hardest shadow transitions)

5) 7 inch reflector with a 10 degree grid; Power: 1/16 + 0.6.
6) Deeppara90, AD600 head reversed, closest distance to apex (aprox 10cm); power: 1/32 + 0.7
7) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse), out a bit more than 6) 1/32 (this appears to be the

brightest position)
8) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse), out a bit more than 7) Poer: 1/32 + 0.3

9) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse), out a bit more than 8) Power 1/16 1439
10 ) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse) at about 14cm, with 1 layer of inner diffusion Power: 1/16 0.3
11) 10 ) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse) at about 14cm, with 2 layers of inner diffusion Power: 1/16 0.3

1) 120cm octabox, 2 layers of diffusion, 120cm from bulb to head, Power: 1/4 + 0.7. Soft shdaow trnsition, as expected.

2) 55cm white Beauty dish and grid,110cm bulb to head , Power: 1/2

3) 55cm white Beauty dish; 110cm distance, Power: 1/8 + 0.7 110cm

4) 7 inch Reflector; 110cm distance, 1/32

5) 7 inch reflector with a 10 degree grid; Power: 1/16 + 0.6.

6) Deeppara90, AD600 head reversed, closest distance to apex (aprox 10cm); power: 1/32 + 0.7

7) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse), out a bit more than 6) 1/32 (this appears to be the brightest position

8) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse), out a bit more than 7) Poer: 1/32 + 0.3

9) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse), out a bit more than 8) Power 1/16 1439

10 ) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse) at about 14cm, with 1 layer of inner diffusion Power: 1/16 0.3

11) 10 ) Deeppara90, AD600 head reverse) at about 14cm, with 2 layers of inner diffusion Power: 1/16 0.3

Here's a gif (never made a gif before). Hope it works. If you right click on it perhaps you can slow it down.

To my eye the deeppara90 give more of a sculpted look than the open beauty dish, and when fitted with the two diffusion panels it seems to giv a more defined soft look compared to the octabox (but that could be me),

EDIT: The GIF isn't working properly. Is there a way to upload GIFs onto DPR?

OP Scrollop Contributing Member • Posts: 796
Re: Unique qualities of paras

As the gif doesn't work here, Here's a link to it. RIght click to save or show the controls to slow it down.

Here's a summary:

Unfortunately the beauty dish shot was a bit underexposed compared to the others, and the para at 10cm was over, so I increased the brioghtness of first and reduced for the second, a bit, to aid comparison.

I've taken a few self portraits in a similar vein, and I do like the light from the deeppara90 without diffusion, close to the apex. It's has more punch than that of my beauty dish (which is a white version, would be interesting to compare it to a silver beauty dish), with appears to be more "vibrant" (micro-specular refelctions? if such a thing exists) with more contouring (though, perhaps I'm subconsciously justifying to myself it's purchase). At the very least It requires less power for the same exposure compared to a beauty dish (by over stop.

The white beauty dish produces very nice, light with a slight punch, however I found that it wasn't ideal for men (too "soft", though the grid helps with the subsequent issues), and bare reflectors were a bit too hard. The parabolo90 seems to fit my needs, in this respect.

Using the grid with the parabolo90 might be interesting, as it should reduce the stray light rays exiting the modifier that aren't parallel due to the non-perfect shape of this modifier.

ronscuba Contributing Member • Posts: 707
Re: Unique qualities of paras

Thanks, that was very cool and informative.  The para is certainly a versatile modifier.  Do you by chance have  a grid for your octa ?

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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OP Scrollop Contributing Member • Posts: 796
Re: Unique qualities of paras

ronscuba wrote:

Thanks, that was very cool and informative. The para is certainly a versatile modifier. Do you by chance have a grid for your octa ?

Yes, would you like a comparison?

ronscuba Contributing Member • Posts: 707
Re: Unique qualities of paras

Scrollop wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

Thanks, that was very cool and informative. The para is certainly a versatile modifier. Do you by chance have a grid for your octa ?

Yes, would you like a comparison?

Yes please.  The octa with and w/o grid, para focused and unfocused, if it is not too much trouble.

OP Scrollop Contributing Member • Posts: 796
Re: Unique qualities of paras

ronscuba wrote:

Scrollop wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

Thanks, that was very cool and informative. The para is certainly a versatile modifier. Do you by chance have a grid for your octa ?

Yes, would you like a comparison?

Yes please. The octa with and w/o grid, para focused and unfocused, if it is not too much trouble.

Sure.

Octa normal head position (facing out) or reversed?

The para with diffusers or bulb only? Reversed or facing out?

Would you like the head +/or a different target? Would you like the lights in the same axis as the camera (ie. above the camera) or off axis(as in the last set of photos)?

I'll do this on Wed.

ronscuba Contributing Member • Posts: 707
Re: Unique qualities of paras

Scrollop wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

Scrollop wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

Thanks, that was very cool and informative. The para is certainly a versatile modifier. Do you by chance have a grid for your octa ?

Yes, would you like a comparison?

Yes please. The octa with and w/o grid, para focused and unfocused, if it is not too much trouble.

Sure.

Octa normal head position (facing out) or reversed?

The para with diffusers or bulb only? Reversed or facing out?

Would you like the head +/or a different target? Would you like the lights in the same axis as the camera (ie. above the camera) or off axis(as in the last set of photos)?

I'll do this on Wed.

I do not want to create too much work for you.

Basically, my curiosity is, if the para and octa are similar size, using all the different options of diffusion, grids, focusing. What can one do the other cannot ?

Is there is a particular subject and/or light position that really shows this difference ?

OP Scrollop Contributing Member • Posts: 796
Re: Unique qualities of paras

ronscuba wrote:

Scrollop wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

Scrollop wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

Thanks, that was very cool and informative. The para is certainly a versatile modifier. Do you by chance have a grid for your octa ?

Yes, would you like a comparison?

Yes please. The octa with and w/o grid, para focused and unfocused, if it is not too much trouble.

Sure.

Octa normal head position (facing out) or reversed?

The para with diffusers or bulb only? Reversed or facing out?

Would you like the head +/or a different target? Would you like the lights in the same axis as the camera (ie. above the camera) or off axis(as in the last set of photos)?

I'll do this on Wed.

I do not want to create too much work for you.

Basically, my curiosity is, if the para and octa are similar size, using all the different options of diffusion, grids, focusing. What can one do the other cannot ?

Is there is a particular subject and/or light position that really shows this difference ?

I'll see what I can do. It won't be the most accurate comparison as the para us 90cm in diameter and the octa 120cm.

From what I've seen the softbox creates light with the most gradual ("softest") shadow falloff, the beauty dish second, then the parabolic reflectors, with facial contouring increasing in such a fashion also. They all have different light quality, though, which will give different effects onto skin (soft for the softbox, "glowy" for the beauty dish, and more sparkly for the parabolic, I'd say, though I'm not expert).

ronscuba Contributing Member • Posts: 707
Re: Unique qualities of paras

I have a lot of modifiers of different sizes/shapes. The para sounds very versatile, but I am not looking to replace something I already own. More curious so see if the para produces unique lighting that is not easy to duplicate with other types of modifiers.

For the comparison, since the octa is larger, maybe use just the inner layer of diffusion and grid ?

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