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Grammar of the Shot, 2nd Edition by Christopher J. Bowen, Roy Thompson

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Quality of Light: Hard vs Soft

Beyond the color temperature and the quantity of light, most filmmakers are also concerned with the quality of the light. Not how good or how bad the light looks, although that is extremely important, but how hard or how soft the beams are that illuminate the actors and the set. If you have ever stood outside on a cloudless day you no doubt noticed how distinct your shadow was. A hard-edged shadow is the primary giveaway that you are using a hard light source. The sun, as a single point source light, sends its light waves to Earth and, for the most part, they are parallel to one another. They create a single, deep shadow with well-defined edges.

These parallel light waves are very directional and will illuminate ...

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