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Thanks everyone for the replies. Looks like majority vote goes with size and shape of the catchlights. I have to agree, I prefer round catchlights to square ones but only after making sure the quality of light looks good whether it's being blended with ambient outdoors or 100% flash in the studio.
Here's a video that reiterates RustyBug's comments:
Slanted Lens: Understanding Octas
Thanks AlphaValues, this video helped a lot!
A small, round catchlight looks natural because it evokes the sun - never mind that such a low-altitude sun is a much warmer color temperature than we typically use in studio. Beyond that special case, I find all studio catchlights look fake, especially the big ones. Umbrella spokes, featureless polygons, beauty dishes with various central deflectors. The best catchlights are those outdoors but, then, you're outdoors (and color purity goes to hell). I want to experiment with a big SB at close range where a scenic transparency (monochromatic) is stuck on front. The best catchlights I saw from a...Show more →
As far as color temp in studio, couldn't we just use a custom WB, shoot in RAW, and tweak from there?
I'm going to have to start looking for umbrella spokes, not sure if I've ever noticed them before in the catchlights. PCB has examples on his site of what some of the different manufacturer umbrellas produce, but the umbrella itself is pictured, not the catchlight. I assume the picture though is pretty much what the catchlight will look like. Adding a diffusion panel to the front of the umbrella should help eliminate the spokes, right? I realize you'll lose at least one stop of light here, but hey...minimizes the spokes.
Those PCB moon units are pretty cool, but wondering if they would see any use after the initial first couple shoots? The industry standard doesn't exactly include star shaped catchlights...
Those BIG catchlights remind me of "Fashion" (which is okay for a fashion look) ... not natural ... and I HATE seeing umbrella spokes.
So, it does come down somewhat to preference ... and what are you trying to convey in the image @ natural vs. fashion, etc. I think for a lot of people BIGGER & SOFTER is easier & quicker, painting the subject with a giant splash of light ... kinda like how easy it is to shoot on an overcast day with the REALLY BIG softbox overhead.
I agree, but what I learned from the video by Slanted Lens is that the size of the modifier just increases the quality of light by helping it wrap around the subject, not so much giving 'more' light. The video demonstrated how each size, small to large, all produced the same area of light. The difference was in the shadows on and behind the subject.
Thanks again everyone! I learn something every single time I log into FM!!