In this image, #1, I used a 42-inch ribbless umbrella and 250 watt seconds of strobe power. My aperture was set at f11.3. The light is a Norman 2400 head. The effect is somewhat harsh, even though umbrellas are known for even lighting. The light has this effect because it has a direction and because there is no light filling in the shadows. If your light source is so broad it seems to come from everywhere, like on an overcast day, it doesnít have direction. An umbrella seems to be a large light from one direction. The advantage of a light like this is that it defines character. It will give strength to the lines on the face and shape to the features.
Adding a large reflector panel to the first shot creates image #2.
It is important to have the reflector close to the image. Often I see people set up a portrait with the lights and reflectors at distances of more than 5 feet from the subject, this will greatly reduce the smoothness of the light in the finished image. The exposure will remain the same in both the first and second shots; after all you havenít any new lights. You can do this with either a silver reflector or gold reflector. The gold reflector makes images with noticeably warmer shadows, which is why I used it in this shot. I usually mount the two reflectors are mounted onto the same frame, so changing them is very easy.
Of course the amount of light will change, the diffusion panel sucked up some photons. In this case I used 500 watt/seconds and an aperture of f11.5. So I added more light to achieve a similar aperture. The result of this is that it takes a few moments longer to make this change than the first one.
About Author / Instructor / Photographer, John H. Siskin
In addition, he teaches studio lighting black and white photography at Los Angeles Mission College. His studio is in Reseda California and more of his work can be seen at www.siskinphoto.com
His work has been part of many exhibits. His photographs have been shown at the Brand Library, 2nd City Art Gallery, Haroldís Gallery, Farmani Gallery, and The Atelier. He has been a participant in the Valley Studio Tour several times.
John has published quite a number of technical articles about photography. His articles have appeared in Photo Techniques, View Camera, Studio Photography and others. He has written about photographic lighting, building lenses, framing, photographic lab work, building cameras, as well as some more speculative photographic subjects. Since he is so well versed in photographic subjects, he is often hired as a consultant by businesses.