The Versatility of Large Light Sources

When you are new to artificial lighting, it can be a bit of a tough world to navigate. This great explores one of the most fundamental concepts behind working with artificial light and why it's so useful for photographers. 

Coming to you from Daniel Norton with Adorama TV, this great video explores the use of large sources and why they're so beloved by many photographers. One of the most fundamental principles of light is that the larger the relative size of the source, the softer the light, and soft light is generally considered more flattering. There are two ways to change the relative size of the source: change the actual physical size of it or move it closer or farther away from the subject. This is why many photographers who work with people love shooting with large modifiers, as they provide flattering light easily and simply. But they're not just one trick ponies; by varying the distance to the subject or even adding a grid, you can do a lot to modify the output of whatever modifier you're working with and create a variety of different looks. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Simple concept that's hard to grasp for beginners...

Larger and closer light source to subject = softer light and shadow transitions, (example...subject next to large window without Sun directly hitting it)

Smaller and farther light source to subject = harder light and shadow transitions, (example...The Sun...really small and very far)

Why does he use a light-meter? What's the benefit of using it compared to using the in-camera meter or making a few test shots and making adjustments?

Your camera's light meter can't report that flash measurement back to you. Oh, it can and does meter it. But, you'll have to look at your rear screen or tethered output to see the results and make adjustments to flash output and other things. A flash meter gets you in the ball park. You can then make quick and minute adjustments as you go.

I've got a 5' octa and would love to get a grid for it. But, the price of the grid is more than the octa!

Don’t know what brand you have, but in many cases you can use another manufacturer’s grid if it’s the same size. For example, the Photoflex grid will fit the Profoto Octa. There are also cheaper ones by Impact, Fotodiox, etc.