Exercise 10: Softening the Light

For this first exercise looking at photographic lighting we are to look at the basic difference between softened light and harsh bare light. I therefore set up a small tabletop still life of a small vase with a few flowers. I then placed my studio light at a 45 degree angle to my right pointing directly at the subject with no diffusion or softening. I then followed this up by placing a medium sized soft box onto the flash unit. Leaving the light at the same place and with the same power setting I took the second photograph.

As you can see there a number of differences but none as obvious as the shadow, the difference in definition and tone of the shadow are is the main effect of diffusing the light. By softening it the light is not only less powerful once hitting the subject it is also coming from multiple directions, this results in a much softer light on the subject and also a more softer and lighter shadow. Artistically both have there advantages, the shadow can give a subject context and depth while the diffused image is more clean, and focuses the viewer directly to the subject. Another difference is the colours, predominantly the cream of the foreground flower, in the harsh light it appears yellow in parts which gives it an unhealthy appearance, however in the more softer light we get a far better image of the flower. The natural tones of the greens are also very different between images, although they appear lighter in the un-diffused image this spoils the contrast between the green and the purples and whites whereas the other image they appear darker and more detailed which add to the interest and overall appearance of the image. As I mentioned both have an effective use however in this example with this subject matter I feel it is better to use diffused light.


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