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soft and hard lights


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#1 Jim Nelson

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 11:36 PM

Hi,

I thought that the closer the light is to a subject the more intense it's gonna be and therefore the harder the shadows. But I heard somewhere that it's not the case. I heard that the closer the light, the softer the shadows. I thought before that when, for example, you move the reflector back you would get softer shadows and when you move in closer the shadows would be a bit harder (obviously it won't be as hard as a directional light). I'm really confused now. Can someone please explain this to me simply.

Also, why is it that we use harder key and fill lights than desired when we shoot wide shots?


Thanks for you help :)

Edited by Jim Nelson, 05 August 2010 - 11:37 PM.

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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 03:55 AM

The easiest way to think about it is that the smaller the area of the light (eg a point source) the harder the shadow edge is going to be and the larger the light's area the softer. The further you move a light away the smaller the angle it subtends and therefore the harder the edge.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbra

Intensity is the light level, which is different to the hardness or softness of the light's shadow.

You can use soft lights for wide shots, although they tend to be rather large and practical reasons can come into the play. Space lights are soft lights that give a top soft light for example and are used to light whole sets that fill a sound stage.

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 06 August 2010 - 03:55 AM.

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