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Managing Light

When shooting with DSLRs, often the decision isn’t what lights should be added but rather the opposite: what lights should be dimmed, diffused, or blocked? This is counter to how lighting is often thought of when lighting film, and some low-budget techniques will prove useful. In film, you light to make it look natural and adjust exposure; with DSLRs, you subtract to make it look natural and then adjust exposure. Usually with film you light with high intensity, check ratios from there, and stop down; and with DSLRs it is effective if you minimize or have low-intensity light and move up.

Three ways to limit light are diffusion, bouncing, and blocking.

Diffusion

Light generally radiates in straight parallel or nearly parallel lines. Changing the light rays from parallel lines to rays going in scattered directions is diffusing the light. Diffusion is usually achieved by placing a translucent material in front of the light to interrupt the light waves (Figure 6-30). It can also be done on a grand scale by clouds on an overcast day. Usually nondiffused light is perceived as harder and diffused light as softer, but this is not an absolute rule.


  

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