A Guide to the Different Looks Various Light Modifiers Can Create in Portraiture

When you're first starting out with artificial lighting, the sheer range of modifier types and sizes can be a bit daunting. This helpful video will show you some of the basic modifiers and how they shape light on a subject and the catchlights they create. 

Coming to you from Pixel Viilage, this video will show you how some of the most common light modifiers affect the look of your subject in portraiture. In it, you'll see a bare reflector, beauty dish (with and without a diffuser), softbox, and two differently sized parabolic umbrellas. While the main thing you should pay attention to is how each modifier shapes the face (notice how the highlights and shadows bring out facial structure and look for where hot spots are created), the hardness of the light, and the fall-off, also notice the catchlight each modifier creates. The beauty of artificial lighting is the ability to have vastly more control over the quality and shape of the light. Of course, as you become more advanced, this is augmented by adding more sources, each with their own distinct modifier and power to precisely shape the light exactly as you please. I think you'll likely find it quickly becomes addictive learning about and creating different setups!

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3 Comments

Anonymous's picture

My only criticism is that this professional model is not even attempting to re-create the same pose from image to image, which would be helpful for a straight comparison of modifiers. Then again, given the length of the video and the fact that she's standing around for the explanations, I suppose I can't really blame her. :/

Arun Hegden's picture

Simple and crisp. Thank you for sharing. :)

Jon Miller's picture

A good video for anyone that do not know what those modifiers do. Since I use them all, I had no issues. What I did like is what he stated in that the shape of the reflection in the eye and he preferred the round one.. I think now those that are beginning can now look at a image and tell if it's a softbox vs a beauty dish, etc...