When all is said and done, what light modifier should I use for a specific look for a specific shoot? I believe there is no such a thing as the “only light” but I do believe there is a “right light” for a specific look, and there are different ways to get that light.
Below are two extremely simple light setups, both single light solutions to give me the same type of light but with small variations for the look.
I love simple lighting setups!
Here is the first:
Profoto Pro7a with a 3′ octobox close up to the model to ensure very quick light falloff. The Background is actually white PVC and centre light is just above eye height so that the falloff down his torso ensures all the focus is on his face, but still have some detail on his chest and arms.
Model: Christo van Rensburg
Next we replaced the 3′ Octobox with a Profoto Silver XL Parabolic Umbrella:
Here is the second:
Profoto Pro7 with a Silver Profoto XL Umbrella up top left to the model. The parabolic effect is just brilliant to “focus” the light and give me deep but soft shadows.
The Background is white PVC and centre light is a bit above eye height so that the falloff down her torso ensures all the focus is on her face, but still have some detail on her chest and arms.
Model: Marle Jacobsz
So what is the Difference?
The Parabolic Silver Umbrella tends to give you much deeper shadows than the soft diffused Octobox, as well as much stronger highlights. These highlights work great for a female model with good skin, but makes male models with a rougher skin look older (Every frown line looks deeper than it actually is).
Also, because the female models are usually more well defined, the specular highlights gives them a bit more depth, more 3D if you will. Making the features we like, stand out a bit more (like cheek bones, for instance).
So here is a general guideline: Shoot through diffusion (like a softbox) for a more muted result, Metallic reflected diffusion for specular highlights and a more glamorous look.