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Using dedolight Lightstream reflectors there may often be a misunderstanding.
When you use a #1 reflector, you have a more defined redirection of the incoming beam, therefore more light reaches the target.
When you employ reflectors with higher numbers, like #2, #3 and #4, those feature a different spread angle. They light a larger area, thus, from the point of view of the talent to be lit this is often perceived as a softer light.
This is not true. It is simply less light that is reaching the talent, because of the wider spread and the wider distribution of the effective light.
In other words, hard light and soft light is simply defined by the size of the light-emitting area in relation to the distance to the object.
When you have a very large light-emitting surface close to the object, you will encounter a true soft light, shown also in the disappearance of shadows or very gentle light and shadow transitions.
If you take a large light-emitting surface at a huge distance, the light will become a hard light.
Example: Take the sun with a diameter of 1.4 million kilometers. When this is reaching the object unhindered (by clouds or haze), it will create very hard shadows, and nobody would talk about sunlight being a soft light.
When you are placing your object in front of a huge reflecting wall, there may be no shadows perceived, and the square law may not be applicable when the object or the talent moves.
Coming back to the original claim — when you are using Lightstream reflectors, regardless of their surface structure, you can have the appearance of a softer and gentler light with smoother transitions between light and shadow, if these reflectors are placed very close to the object.
The moment you move them further away, they will have a much harder, more defined character.
This leads us in two diverging methods.
For direct lighting of a talent's face you may want to have a little smoothness in the transition of light and shadow, like in the very old days of movie-making, when huge and very hot lights were employed to produce direct lighting on the talent.
There was a device called 'Big Eye 10', a 10 kW light with a super big front lens to create direct light,
but at the same time allow a slightly gentler transition between light and shadow.
Today, there is no necessity anymore to 'cook' our talent. Our lighting fixtures have become smaller, and due to the higher sensitivity of our sensors a much lower light level is needed, unless you are setting demands that you have to combat the influence of incoming sunlight.
On the one hand we want to keep the set as clean and clear as possible, do away any lighting paraphernalia, too many stands, flags and other devices, and therefore place the reflectors at a larger distance which will automatically result in a harder, more structured lighting appearance.
On the other hand, you may want to keep a certain amount of gentleness. So, a big distance creates hard light, hard shadows, a small distance can get in the way of the picture and the well-being of the talent.
I am currently working on a new lighting practice, which will combine both of those desires and maximize comfort as well as lighting character. This can be regarded as a compromise between hard and focusing light, like you get it from older focusing light fixtures with the effect of a soft light, which will allow all kinds of gradations and modifications.
I am not the only one who has been looking for such a multi-purpose solution, and I am so excited that I have found a way to do this, that I applied for a new patent, although I swore to myself that I will never have a patent again due to the extremely high cost.
Here, however, the temptation to protect this useful invention was too big.