Exercise – concentrating light

Keeping the set-up from the previous exercise on lighting angle, the next photographs taken were using a concentrated light rather than diffused. Fig.01 shows the result when a large, diffused light source is used close to the subject. Soft-edged shadows are present, providing visual clues to the texture, form and shape of the figure. The light is next to the camera and looking down at approximately 45 degrees, meaning that the whole figure is evenly lit with good detail and colour information.

Fig. 05 - Light in front and 45 degree above

Fig. 01 – Light in front and 45 degree above

If the intent  is to draw attention to only a limited part of the scene, then one option is to concentrate the light produced by the light source – a speedlight in this example. So instead of a diffuser that is much bigger than the light source, an inverted cone is used that effectively funnels the light. These snoots can be bought to fit over the flash gun, or made from card and attached to the light. Fig.02 shows the effect of this lighting with the light in a similar position as the picture above. Only a small area is lit and because of the absence of any diffusion, shadows are very hard (under the cravat for example). There is a small amount of light that has bled onto the white box that the figure is sitting on and we can just about make out his hands. The edges of the pool of light are slightly soft.

Concentrated

Fig. 02 – Concentrated

Further concentration is possible by using a honeycombed grid in the front of the snoot (fig.03). This is an array of hexagonal channels fitted to the front of the snoot down which the light shines. Where normally light beams would be able to spread into a wide pattern, here they can only travel in a reduced spread, straight down the channels. Even though the material used is matt black, some light does bounce off the walls of the tubes causing softening of the edges of the spot of light. These grids are often used in low-key portrait photography for just this effect.

Concentrated Grid

Fig. 03 – Concentrated with grid

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