Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Pentax / Samsung dSLR, K Mount Mirrorless

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jan 18, 2015, 7:11 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default Flash - hard or soft light?

I've been starting to play around with off camera flash and various ways of diffusing/modifying the light. I thought I understood hard light and the difference, but now I'm not so sure I understand the difference.

Here's a couple of flash shots I took recently with a new flash setup. What do you think? Any comments are appreciated.







I think this is reasonable light, the shadows aren't really black, and the edges don't look that sharp to me. But is that really what makes hard vs soft light? I think I've been over-thinking the situation and would like some outside opinions.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jan 18, 2015, 7:15 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
nhmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Southern New Hampshire
Posts: 5,202
Default

Can't help at all with flash. But, pretty flowers.
nhmom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 19, 2015, 12:34 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
DMJJR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 927
Default

I've tried a few diffusers-sto-fen, Harbor, & Gary Fong.
IMHO the Gary Fong Lightsphere works best for me
DMJJR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 19, 2015, 11:16 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

Thanks for the feedback so far, but my question has more to do with the quality of the light, not so much how to achieve it. I'm not entirely sure I know what constitutes soft light. I think I did a good job of lighting these pictures but I'm not entirely sure. Does this have good light or not?
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 20, 2015, 10:10 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
VTphotog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Extreme Northeastern Vermont, USA
Posts: 4,229
Default

Hard light, to me, is what you get with direct flash, or direct sunlight, with lots of contrast, and harsh shadows. Good for emphasizing color and picking out subjects from the background.
Soft light, would be the opposite- light tent or outside with a totally overcast sky. The light comes from all directions, minimizing shadows, making it good for picking up fine details overall, but needing well defined subjects to get a catchy photo.
Most lighting falls in between the extremes, so it is really a spectrum rather than an either/or situation.
I would say that you have struck a good balance in these shots, with the softer shadows of the petals, but the background remaining dark.
VTphotog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 20, 2015, 3:12 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Wigan, UK
Posts: 568
Default

I'd call that hard-ish light. You got clearly defined shadows and a lot of contrast. Especially first one. Personally I'd go a bit softer.

There are two ways of achieving it: bring light closer to flower or make light bigger using diffuser. If you go for really soft light head on to the subject you'll loose fine details (great for women headshots - gets rid of all small skin imperfections), if you go too hard it'll have lots of distracting shadows. To better see what you prefer take three shots without changing camera, light and subject position: one bare flash, second with something like Sto-fen and last one with small flash diffuser and see which one you like best. (As small diffuser I mean something like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kaavie-Unive...flash+diffuser).

I don't really like sto-fen, it just fills the room with non directional light and takes away 1 stop of power. Cheaper to point your flash to the ceiling.

You can find a lot of free information about using off camera flash on http://strobist.blogspot.co.uk/2006/...hting-101.html there's link at the endo of each post for next lesson.

hard light: http://strobist.blogspot.co.uk/2006/...ard-light.html

soft light: http://strobist.blogspot.co.uk/2006/...umbrellas.html

Greg
__________________
http://gfurm.smugmug.com

Pentax K-3 II, DA 50/1.8, Vivitar S1 105/2.5 macro, Tamron 70-200/2.8, Sigma 18-35/1.8 Art
gfurm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 21, 2015, 10:46 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

Ah, this is what I was looking for! Thanks so much. I didn't realize that moving the flash closer would give you softer light, for some reason I thought it was the other way around.

And now I think I understand better - I took 3 pictures once of the watchtower at the east entrance to the Grand Canyon. The first one was with the light to the side, which cast strong shadows on half the building and gave it depth. You knew it was a cylindrical shape. The second picture has the light full on the tower. It still feels like a 3d image though you might not be sure it's a cylinder. That I understood well before I took the pictures. I took almost the same picture a day or 2 later, this time in snow and a heavy overcast. The tower looks completely flat, there's no feeling of it being anything but a backdrop or something like that. That would be soft lighting at the extreme end.

In this case, I wanted some shadow, I wanted to give some depth to the flowers. But I didnt want it to scream "flash" like so many pictures do. I thought it looked pretty natural, but wasn't sure. And I had no idea if it would be considered soft or hard.

I'm going to have to play around some more this weekend and try moving the flash closer, to see how that affects things.

Thanks again, and any more hints about using flash (like moving them closer gives softer light) would be greatly appreciated.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 4:15 PM.