31 May 2013

How to Enlarge Your Lightsource for Softer Light, easily.

I did a little experiment this evening just to demonstrate how to make a really large lightsource and give much more even light on your subject than just blasting away with direct light.

I have two 65x65cm light boxes that are quite handy. So here is a pic of them set up pointing directly at a nice Dutch vase. The camera was on the tripod in front of the table.

From here it looks like that should make for some pretty good light on the vase, but as we can see in the next photo they also leave some not so great specular highlights on the vase and two distinct shadow areas behind the vase.

Not a bad photograph as such, but we can do much better than that! So, in order to increase the overall size of the light source I simply faced the lights up at the ceiling. Of course I also had to increase the power output of the lights because the light now had much further to travel and the inverse square law robs us of light very quickly when we increase the distance the light has to travel.

As you can see from the pic above the light has now been spread over a much larger area. So what has that done for our lovely Dutch vase?

Well the first thing you notice is that the ugly specular highlights have vanished and the light is much more evenly spread on the vase itself. The second thing is that the shadows behind the vase have also disappeared. Overall a much more pleasing result!

If all you have are two speedlights instead of the bigger studio lights then don't be disheartened because the exact same principle still holds true and will work just great. Simply pump up the power a bit and let 'er rip, it will have a similar wonderful softening effect on the quality of light.

Happy product photographing folks!

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