Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Know Your Lights (Part 2)

Bare head Nikon SB-24 flash / strobe.
In the last post we saw how the Profoto AcuteB flash head / strobe, lit the subject - even with no light modifiers the shadows were not very harsh at all and the result was still quite pleasant. Obviously we could have made it softer still by using a softbox, but that's not the aim of these posts; we want to see the differences between different light sources. In this post we'll take a look at the Nikon SB24 speed light.

The Lighting Setup

Here's a quick reminder of the lighting setup used...

Lighting setup used for these comparison tests.

The Results

As you can see from the top photo, the Nikon SB-24 speedlight produced very harsh shadows which can be seen both on the face and the background. But why should this be? The flash / strobe was set to the 35mm zoom setting but this doesn't alter the fact that the actual light source is very small.

The smaller a light source is, the harder the light will be; and the harder the light is, the shadows will become correspondingly harsher and darker. That's why the sun gives casts such deep shadows as although the sun is physically large, it's so far away that it is a point source of light... and therefore a hard light source.

It's a common problem with all speedlights, and whilst they are great for creating a contrasty light they definitely need a light modifier if you want to soften the light; but that means losing power and whilst you can do a lot with speedlights, by comparison to the Profoto head they really lose out on the power stakes.

Something else has also happened when using this flash, and that is the shift in colour. That will become much more noticeable when we put the three images next to each other for comparison in part 4 of this series.

In the next post though, we'll take a look at the Interfit Stellar Extreme head.

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