|This tutorial is an extraction from page 45 of the Speedliter's Handbook by Syl Arena. You can find more information about this title on the Pearson website.
Big Is Not Always Big
If you are familiar with a softbox, you know that it is a big light source. When you use it up close, it creates soft light. What happens if you move a softbox far away? Its apparent size relative to the subject becomes smaller.
As the apparent size of a light source gets smaller, the directionality of its light increases.
Move a large source far enough away and it will eventually become a small light source. Again, the sun is an example of how distance from a large source can make its apparent size become much smaller.
Making Speedlites Appear Larger Is A Big Part Of Speedliting
Don’t fret. Despite the fact that the face of a Speedlite is just a few square inches, there are many ways to make it seem bigger. Here are a few:
- Bounce your Speedlite into a reflective umbrella
- Fire your Speedlite through a satin umbrella
- Shoot your Speedlite through a softbox
- Fire it through a diffusion panel
- Bounce it off your hand, a wall, or a ceiling
- Fire several Speedlites together from different angles
Figure 3.15 In this shot, the Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite was actually just inside the frame. (You don’t see it because it was black.) Notice that the neck shadows are extremely soft. Also notice that that there is a dramatic difference between the cheek highlights and the skintones across the collarbone. This chiaroscuro happens when the light source is pushed in very close.
Figure 3.16 Moving the softbox out to about 12′ reduces its apparent size and increases the hardness of the light slightly. Notice that the shadows on the neck are sharper. Also, because of the greater distance, the light is more even across the face (see pages 48–49 of the book for more information on why).