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diffusion

Large diffusers can provide very soft light on a subject.

Large diffusers can provide very soft light on a subject.

Many photographers can’t always tell the difference between hard light and soft light. By definition, the differences have to do with the quality of the shadows. Hard light delivers very, very dark shadows that seem to muddle details while in contrast soft light delivers very light shadows or even no shadows at all.

While traditional photographers will preach the benefits of soft light for portraits all day and night, modern editors and art buyers prefer the look of hard lighting.

The folks over at LearnMyShot have put together a video comparing the two using a situation involving a light bulb. In general, the larger the light source is in relation to the subject, the softer the light will be. But as you see, the host pulls down a diffusion panel to change the look of the lighting.

The video on the differences between hard light and soft light is after the jump.


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DIY Light Tent

If you want to shoot photos of objects and products with little to no shadows, then one of the simplest ways to do it is with a light box or light tent. This is a white box with an opening in the front and with translucent white panels on each side that allows bright diffused light to bathe the subject in what can be a shadowless lighting effect.

The guys over at DIY Tryin created a tutorial video on hacking together your own light box/tent on the cheap. What they try to emphasize is diffusion. In order for a light tent to really work, you need to diffuse the light coming in from all sides. But as they were able to demonstrate, the light is so diffused that they can shoot an image with their phone and get something very diffused.

For what it’s worth, we would rather recommend having a three light setup than a two light setup. We would place two lights on each side and one on the back with the back lighting being cranked up to turn the background into pure white. An alternative is to have a very high powered strobe firing in from the top of the lightbox with a translucent reflector diffusing the light.

Their tutorial on making your own DIY light tent is after the jump.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 image samples (3 of 10)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 8.0

This weekend is as great a time as any for you to start playing more with lighting and figuring out how you can make it work more for you. Here are some project ideas for you to continue stepping forward.

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Silver Bounce Umbrella

Silver Bounce Umbrella

How many of you out there are afraid of, or intimidated by off-camera lighting? Don’t be afraid to admit it; I was in that same boat when I first began too. A favorite quote that I have accepted lately, “If you’re too afraid to try for fear of failure, you’ve failed already” – Anonymous. If anyone knows where this quote came from, let me know in the comments. Okay, back to the subject. You can read an infinite amount of material on off-camera lighting. The problem is that there is almost too much information. You might fall into the trap of info overload without actually learning for yourself with experimentation and practice. My advice would be to read enough information to learn how to get your flash off the camera and then get out there and shoot.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton, the Lawtographer

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