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Before we start working with the lights, and making some photos, there's a basic premise that I want to make sure you understand. This is something simple and may seem obvious, but until you hear it, you may not quite realize it. So here's the basic idea, size matters. The bigger your light source, the better the photo. And by better I mean it's going to have softer shadows. You're not going to have really hard shadows that we generally associate with being relatively unattractive. So let's think about this. What's the biggest light source that we've got? The sun, right? 1.5 million kilometers wide, it's a huge light source. So you'd think well, that's big, it should give us nice soft light. But anybody whose ever taken a photo out in full sun, out in the middle of the day, no clouds in the sky, knows, that you get really hard shadows under the face, and it's just not attractive.
You're thinking that I thought that the biggest light source gave me the softest light. Well here's the thing it's actually relative size. That sun that's super huge is also super far away. So if you hold up your thumb you can cover the light, you can cover that sun with just the tip of your thumb. So our light source, the sun, may be super super bright, but it's actually really really small relative to everything else. Which is why, when we shoot a subject like our model Jackie here, under the full sun, we end up with really awful shadows under her face. And that's never ever going to be attractive.
So that's the problem with basic light. We have to get it bigger. So how do we get the light bigger? Well, let's think about small lights that we're going to be using today. Here I have a standard on-camera strobe. As you can see, this light source is not very big at all. Relative to the sun, it's actually a little bit bigger, but here's the important thing, now think about this. If I want to make the light on Jackie softer, do I take this light and move it further away, or do I move it closer to her? I want to get it closer, right, because the relative size gets bigger.
If she's looking at it from there, this appears smaller when it's here, than it does when it's here. So your light source actually wants to get closer to the subject, to give you that softer light. Now this can only get so big, right? I can only put it about yeah close if I'm getting a nice tight portrait of her, and that's still not going to be really soft light, but it will be better than being back here. But what we really want to do is to start modifying our light. Now there's lots of different ways that we can do that, and here's a nice easy one. This is a big, huge diffuser. You can see the light comes through here nicely.
And so what I would do with this is shoot the flash through the diffuser, in effect turning this huge surface here Into the light source, this point is no longer the light source, this becomes the light source. So if I photograph her like this, we're going to have a much, much nicer image with mush softer shadows. Going back to the outdoor idea, shooting in full sunlight, if you're shooting on a cloudy or generally overcast day, then you're going to have better photos again. Because the shadows, are not going to be as hard. Why not? Because the clouds in the sky, act as a diffusor.
Suddenly the entire sky, on a really cloudy or overcast day, becomes one big huge soft box, one of these that's as big as the entire sky. So now you have really nice soft light, and very soft, or maybe even no shadows at all under your subject. So again size matters, get this thing as big as you possibly can and that's going to make all the difference in your photos.
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