Connect with me on Google+

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Softening the light


This exercise to compare the differences between photographs under naked light, (in my case a flashgun set to 1/2 power using a radio trigger to fire the flash remotely) and using the same light but being diffused. For the exercise I used a purpose built softbox; although the course notes didn’t require it I added a few extra shots where I ‘bounced’ the light from a wall and ceiling to soften the light also. I used the camera in manual mode (setting ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed manually) obtaining exposure values via a handheld light meter.

This first shot the flashgun was approx. 45’ degrees to the football (forgot to mention an officially signed 2010 squad Manchester United football!) on camera left and above and aimed directly at the ball.

ISO 100 70mm f/16 1/125 sec

Commercial Photography

The small light source is hard and specular on the ball, you can see this on the ‘M’ on the ball has a hard bright highlight reflecting from the surface. The shadow also has a hard edge.

The second shot below has been taken with a softbox over the flash gun (in the same position) that has effectively diffused the light onto the ball. I kept the power of the flash the same and therefore you will notice that the aperture is wider by a couple of stops to maintain exposure (as measured by a handheld meter) on the football

ISO 100 70mm f/8 1/125 sec

Commercial Photography

In this shot the shadows and blacks appear much softer. note that the shadow behind the ball appears much more fuzzy and the specular light on the ball, by the ‘M’ is not as bright or hard as the same shot without the diffused light (via the softbox); overall a more pleasing look. Although I think it looks better, that’s not to say the light is better; it would depend on the subject or effect you are looking for. For example a photograph of an older person may look ‘better’ in a softer light, softening the shadows (and potentially wrinkles!) than a ‘hard’ or naked light; but again it all depends on what the ‘aim’ of the image may be.


For the next shots I wanted to see how the light softened by bouncing it off another surface.

All that changed was the power of the flashgun to full power bounce then pointed the flashgun directly at the ceiling, effectively making the ceiling a huge light source! . As it happened the light meter also gave me an exposure as the same from the last shot at f/8.

ISO 100 70mm f/8 1/125 sec

Commercial Photography

As you can see this is very similar to that of the shot with the softbox. The specular highlight is still soft but has moved to the yellow badge area. What is also noticeable in this shot is that there is no shadows behind the ball; as such I think the image is even further improved that the second softbox photograph. Also a useful thing to remember when shooting products and people where you don’t want those hard shadows and shapes projected on the background.

For the final shot I kept all settings the same on camera and power of the clash; the only thing different the light was pointed at the wall behind the football (this is just out of site at the top of the frame.

ISO 100 70mm f/8 1/125 sec

Commercial Photography

The light appears very soft in this shot; and in hindsight I should have re metered; as it looks a little underexposed now. But it shows that it’s not just about putting a diffuser in front of a light source to create interesting light.


No comments:

Post a Comment