Softening The Light
Exercise - 2 photographs
For this exercise a still life arrangement is used to demonstrate the effect and compare the differences between using a naked or diffused light source.
Both of these images were taken using a single desk lamp and with the camera fixed to a tripod. The light source was at a 90 degree angle to the right of the flower and slightly higher angled downwards.
Image 1 - Hard Light
|Naked Light source - Hard Light|
Hard lighting produces high contrast in an image because the light rays hit the subject from approximately the same angle. Personally I think the lighting is too harsh here and distracts the viewer from the delicate nature of the subject. The highlights are overexposed which could have been adjusted in camera or by moving the light source further away from the subject.
Image 2 - Soft Light
|Diffused Light - Soft Light|
Some images, perhaps in monochrome for example, might have more impact as high contrast images with deep shadows. It is also possible that the shadow is the subject of the image and therefore hard lighting may be required.
Being able to pre-visualise the effect of lighting on a subject is an important tool in photography and as I continue to read through the text of "Light, Science and Magic" it seems that there is a recipe for most lighting situations and subjects which can be used and is related to learning the physics of light itself.