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Benefits of Indirect Lighting vs. Direct Lighting

Parabolix™ Light Focusing System™ is an indirect lighting method, which allows the user to achieve physically-accurate lighting with even coverage, beautiful contrast, and rich detail.

Overview: The Direct Lighting Method

The direct lighting method is a conventional approach that involves shooting a light source directly onto the subject.  Modifiers like softboxes, metal reflectors, or beauty dishes are often used to improve the light quality, but there are many problems associated with this approach.

 

Problems:

The direct lighting method produces scattered and harsh light rays with hotspots in the center, resulting in an uneven light spread that is unnatural and unappealing.

 

Approaches:

1) Direct dish-based reflectors  - These help correct the light-scattering issue by using a curved metal surface mounted at the base of the light source to redirect some of the scattered rays onto the subject. However, there still persists the problem of the direct hotspot rays from the bulb shooting onto the subject, resulting in blown-out highlights, uneven spread, and an overall degredation of light quality.  

 

2) Conventional softbox or octobox - Softboxes typically use one or two layers of diffusion to "smooth-out" the hotspots coming from the direct light. But this actually leads to more problems. Because the diffusion layers scatter the light, they  eliminate much of the detail contained within the original light source, because they eliminate the possibility of parallel light rays.  This can result in a very unnatural light, that looks cheap or "plastic", with loss of detail on skin and fabrics.  

3) Beauty dish - A beauty dish gives much better light quality than the above two options, because the hotspot rays are blocked using a small plate covering the bulb.  However, because the light source is fixed at the base of the reflector, you do not have the option of focusing the light properly, which does not garantee parallel light rays, and greatly limits the range of light qualities you can get.

 

Conclusion:

With a direct lighting approach, you never get parallel, collimated light rays, which is key to achieving smooth coverage, proper detail and even contrast.

Overview: The Indirect Lighting Method

The Parabolix Light Focusing System™ uses an indirect lighting method that allows the user to shoot the light source into the reflector - not directly onto the subject. The light is collected by the parabolic reflector and reflected onto the subject in smooth, even rays.  This  fixes the problems of the direct lighting approach by eliminating the hotspot rays from the flash bulb, allowing you to get smooth, focused light with parallel rays hitting the subject.  And because you control the position of your light inside the reflector via the light-focusing mount, you can get a range of light qualities from a single reflector that a "fixed light" reflector does not allow - from focused to defocused light, and any position in-between.  As a result, the light quality you get is both soft and specular;  smooth, yet with natural contrast.  This provides fantastic detail on skin and fabric, and very even coverage of your subject - the light necessary for high-quality fashion, portrait, beauty and product photography.  Whereas most other companies have very limited indirect lighting tools, Parabolix™ is dedicated exclusively to producing high-end light-shaping equipment using an indirect lighting approach.

 

Solutions:

1) Even spread and coverage of light.

2) Parallel light rays provide maximum detail of your subject.

3) Natural-looking light - soft and specular.

4) Focusable, allowing user to achieve a range of light qualities with one reflector.

 

Conclusion:

The indirect lighting method gives a more natural and physically accurate light, providing maximum detail and smooth coverage of your subject.

What about a Fresnel lens?  A Fresnel lens produces fantastic light, but it isn't a true direct lighting approach, since the actual light source is filtered and redirected by the lens, similar to the way a parabolic reflector behaves. Please see our next discussion on the Fresnel Lens and Parabolic Reflectors for more information on this approach.

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