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Seth Baldwin

Diffused Direct Light vs Bounce Light - What's your favourite?

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For me, this usually has to do with the size of the source and the space available.

 

If there is a lot of space, it's often easier to control the diffuse light using using a soft box of some sort with baffles or flags.

 

If space is limited, and I need to have the source up against a wall, a bounce makes more sense as the "source" or the white card can be very near the wall. But, with the lamp in front of the bounce card, controlling the light can become more cumbersome. Also, a bounce card is much lighter weight and can be mounted somewhere more easily than getting a lamp and frames or softbox into position.

 

In any case, the resulting diffuse light will look very similar using either method.

 

Of course, these days there are also choices of large LED panels as well that can be placed pretty close to a wall, and additional diffusion material can be placed in front as well...

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I often find a booklight type setup to look a bit nicer, almost no shadows and a great light quality.

For example for a CU I would use a 800W Joker bounced through a 4x4 bead board diffused by opal frost or 250.

For a direct approach I would use something like a M8 or M18 through Bleached Mus.

But yeah, as already mentioned, it's mostly a choice depending on the space I have.

Edited by Christoph Helms

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Also how large your source is.. in relation to your subject.. a huge source will give a hard shadow if its far from the subject.. eg the Sun and us.. greater the ratio softer the source .. thats why you want too fill your diff frame as evenly as possible.. if you dont have the space to get back to fill the frame then book light is going to fill it better and give a softer light.. if you have the space I think its just quicker and easy to go direct.. the quality of the light should be the same..

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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For a direct approach I would use something like a M8 or M18 through Bleached Mus.

 

Do you actually use unbleached muslin as a diffusion or did you mean you bounce with it? It would be a pretty heavy diffusion.

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I usually like to diffuse direct light mainly so I can have options with all the diffs I can put in front of and really dial it in. Where as using a 4x bounce you only get a 2 or 3 options (hard side/soft side/ reflector). Of course, you can make a bounce light to a book light, but I tend to like to keep a bounce at the ready in case I need a extra return (which I only have one in my arsenal, should probably get another one...).

 

But it's all about preference! There's no right answer! Try both techniques and see what each setup does. There are certain situations (space/time/gear/etc.) where having direct diffused light is great, but having a bounce source is even greater. 

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Well bounce light along with book light is about as glowy as you can get. That is, they have no beam. It just spreads. It's like sky light through a window.

Diffusion allows the fuxture's beam to soften but still with a directional push. Think of a blurry oval stretching from the material. You see it as a hotspot in the diffusion. Even 216 doesn't 100% eliminate the beam. So diffusion will inherently have more throw in the middle, and thus more targeted. You can flatten that throw by putting an intermediate (a second diffusion) between the light and current diffusion, to an effect like a baffle in a softbox. And if you look at the diffusion you'll see is more evenly filled from corner to corner (No more hotspot).

 

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