What’s the Difference Between Soft Light and Hard Light?

Written by Jared Platt on . Posted in Lighting Tips

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What’s the Difference? is a series of video lighting tutorials. Each episode responds to a single question. In this episode, Jared Platt compares soft light and hard light. The entire series, including all videos, articles and lighting diagrams, is available at our website. And feel free to leave a question in the comment section if you have one!

Working in the studio, the home or any controlled environment is a great time to slow down and do a lot of light shaping. We did this recently to compare soft light and hard light. In both cases, we used the Profoto B2 Off-Camera Flash and simply changed out the OCF Light Shaping Tools.

Unlike outside shots, where the ambient exposure is determined first and the flash is used to augment that light, in the studio, we assume complete darkness and begin building our lighting from scratch.

On this set, we used two lights and a Collapsible Reflector. The hair light (high above and behind our model) was a B1 Off-Camera Flash with a Zoom Reflector and a 5º Grid. This light helped to separate her and the chair from the background and provide some depth to the shot. The main light source was a B2, which was modified first by a softbox, and then by a grid and snoot combination. A large white Collapsible Reflector laid at an angle below and in front of the chair to capture and reflect stray light back toward the chair, to keep it from falling into too deep a shadow. Finally, a black piece of foam core acted as a flag on the right side of the frame, to help even out the shadows on the barn doors behind the chair.

Again, throughout the shoot, we only changed the OCF Light Shaping Tool on the main light.

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Alexia Sinclair Goes Into the Dark Woods and Lights up the Creatures of the Night

Written by Alexia Sinclair on . Posted in Videos

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In the second part of Into The Gloaming, Alexia Sinclair leaves the comfort of her studio in search of a one hundred year old weeping beech tree. With her is a porcelain skinned heroine, a dress made of moths and a bag full of toadstools. The dedication and attention to detail is beyond belief. Here is the full story in Alexia’s own words.

As much as I love set construction and working in the studio (it never rains), some things just can’t be recreated on set, namely a gorgeous one hundred year old weeping beech tree.

With only a week until the tree would lose all it’s leaves (winter is coming, at least in Australia) we had to act fast to manifest this gateway between the real and the surreal.
Shooting on location is all about planning for that 5 minute window where the ambient intersects with the artificial and creates something otherworldly. With that in mind the only question that matters is: When exactly will the Sun be in that 5 minute window? And then how do I make sure that everything is ready for that moment.

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Joe McNally Explains High-Speed Sync

Written by Rebecca Ahremark on . Posted in Videos

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Joe McNally is not your average Joe. With a career spanning over 30 years and including assignments in more than 50 countries, Joe McNally has shot everything everywhere in every thinkable sort of way. In addition to being an exceptionally experienced photographer, Joe is also known for his remarkable ability to share that knowledge. In this video he explains Profoto High-Speed Sync (HSS) and how to use it to improve your photography. Here is how it works, in Joe’s own words.

If you watch the video, you’ll see that we’re now giving up the relative control and security of the studio and heading out into the world. What we’re about out here in this bright sunlight is high-speed synchronization.

High-Speed Sync is right there with TTL in the realm of new developments for bigger flash units. I’m going to be looking at the sun and trying to kind of fight back against it, because the equation right now is against me. Even at a low ISO, it’s bright out here.

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Joe McNally Explains Lighting Ratios

Written by Fredrik Franzén on . Posted in Videos

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Joe McNally is not your average Joe. With a career spanning over 30 years and including assignments in more than 50 countries, Joe McNally has shot everything everywhere in every thinkable sort of way. In addition to being an exceptionally experienced photographer, Joe is also known for his remarkable ability to share that knowledge. In this video he explains what lighting ratios are and how to use them to improve your photography. Here is how it works, in Joe’s own words.

So the cool thing about being a photographer is that you can take a piece of your imagination and make it real by taking a picture of it.

But what stands between you and the realization about imagination? All this technology with all these numbers attached to it, right? F-stops, shutter speeds … and lighting ratios, which is what we’re going to talk about now.

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Joe McNally Explains TTL

Written by Fredrik Franzén on . Posted in Videos

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Joe McNally is not your average Joe. With a career spanning over 30 years and including assignments in more than 50 countries, Joe McNally has shot everything everywhere in every thinkable sort of way. In addition to being an exceptionally experienced photographer, Joe is also known for his remarkable ability to share that knowledge. In this video he explains what TTL is and how to use it to improve your photography. Here is how it works, in Joe’s own words.

So we’re here in a photo studio today discussing the principles of TTL flash using the Profoto Off-Camera Flash System.

If you watch the video, you will see that there is a Profoto Softbox RFi 5′ Octa behind me. It’s fitted with a Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash, which is a battery-operated system, right? And I’ve got TTL control over it.

If you see that size of light, especially in a studio, historically you would say: “Oh, that’s a manual light! I have to go over and adjust that light.” But the beauty of the Profoto system is that not only has it got this tremendous array of Light Shaping Tools, it also has TTL technology.

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