There are so many different types of soft light out there that I was getting frustrated trying to figure out which one to use for a given setup. With some extra time on my hands and the help of the cage staff I put together a quick light test. In this test we used a book light, a Lowell Rifa and a China ball.
First up was the book light. A book light is created by bouncing light through diffusion. This creates a super soft light that is very flattering to the talent. I used a 2k fresnel bouncing into a small white card. Then I set up a large translucent flexfill for it to bounce through. To get a decent exposure out of this light you need to start with a high intensity lamp because first the light bounces and then goes through diffusion. Being a stupid head I didnt take any footcandle readings on this test but hey it was a learning experience. I am guessing it was 7-10fc to where our talent Angelina was. The big round diffusion created a very nice looking eye light which feathered off nicely almost following the contour of the eye. Square eyelights have always bothered me. I am sucked out of the story because I am trying to figure out what type of light they are using by the reflection in the eye. This is probably not a problem for most people.
Next we set up a 1k Rifa soft box. I had spent the morning reading and hearing all about the beautiful look of Briese’s, a soft reflector light and the Rifa was the closest thing we have. This light was nice but harder than I was expecting. Like I said before I dont like the square eyelight it seems weird. This quality of light seems more apt for dramas than romance.
Last was a good ol fashion Chinese lantern or china ball. I put a 200w incandescent soft white globe in it and hung it from a c-stand. I have used china balls a few times and have been pleased by the quality of light. This was my favorite of the three. It was soft but not too soft and was very pleasant on the skin. It also created a beautiful eyelight. The book light was the softest, the Rifa was the hardest and the china ball was nicely in-between. I think this would be the most versatile of the these sources for anything from romance to light drama if it is used correctly. It was also the cheapest and least power draw. I did take a reading on this which was around 7 fc, which looked to be more than the book light which was powered by a 2k. The lantern was not as soft as the book light but only cost a tenth the wattage.
Next up I will do a bounced light test with bigger lights and different bounces. Stay tuned.