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.