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(via Joe McNally/AdoramaTV)
When it comes to creating your own light, things can get a little tricky, especially on first attempts. A lot of photographers think about flash light as something very complicated, but the trick is to understand how light works, and to be more specific, how modifiers change it.
I guess you can divide light into two categories: smooth and edgy. A smooth light is usually the result of a modifier being fitted on or in front of a flash unit. There are tons of modifiers out there, ranging from umbrellas, to soft boxes, octodomes and rapids, each giving a different look.
On the other hand, and edgy light is the result of a bare flash, a ring flash or a beauty dish.
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So how do you know what type of light to use for a certain subject? Let's start with smooth light. It generally gives a very flattering look and it tends to wrap around the subject's face. This soft light is ideal for beauty portraits, family shoots, glamour and boudoir photography. You'll want to use it to bring out the best in your subject or your clients.
Edgy light works best with something a little different. Think about faces with a lot of character and figures you don't come across every day. Edgy light brings out detail and texture and it can also put a nice catch light in the eyes. Environmental portraits can also benefit from edgy light.
I can't think of anyone better to explain the difference between the two types of light than lighting guru Joe McNally. In this short video made for AdoramaTV, he's explains exactly how he took two different shots using these two types of light. Enjoy!