Big Red - part 2 of 1 2

by Dave Montizambert Published 01/12/2012

It also drags down the brightness of the specular highlight. In the end, the specular highlight appears less intense and larger, while the pepper's red tone appears as though nothing has happened. Talk about counter intuitive!

Increasing source distance from subject increases specular contrast.

Decreasing source distance from subject decreases specular contrast.

Dave Montizambert lectures internationally on lighting, digitalphotography, and Adobe Photoshop. He is also a published author having written two books on lighting and digital photography ( plus numerous magazine articles on these topics in North America, Europe, Russia and Asia. Dave also creates Lighting and Photoshop tutorial DVDs for and Dave is available for lectures and workshops in your area and can be reached through


Laws For Squares:

Specular contrast is affected by the inverse square law. If you wanted to reduce the contrast (the specular brightness) by one quarter, in other words make it two stops darker than what it was, decrease the distance of the light source to the subject by one half. Moving a light source from four feet to two feet would cause its specular highlight on the surface the subject to become two times wider and two times higher: 2 x 2 = 4 times bigger - the specular would cover a four times bigger area on the subject. The amount of light energy would be four times greater as well, but since it's covering a four times bigger area, it would stay the same intensity.

The subject's tone would also receive four times more energy. Re-metering would instruct us to reduce the exposure by two f-stops in order to maintain a correct exposure. This reduction in exposure reduces the specular highlight's exposure in the image, making it one quarter of the initial brightness. In other words two stops darker.

Along with this installment on lighting I wanted to gush for a minute about my new lighting DVD (see DVD cover image) called Dances With One Light, I'm really excited about this one, it contains over 2 1⁄2 hours of training where viewers will learn how to create dramatic lighting on subjects using only one light. It starts out with a couple of basic set-ups then moves on to more elaborate ones where that one light creates multiple light sources. The final two lessons push it to extreme 'one-light-ery'! This is not a wimpy video, tons of real information about lighting and exposure plus lots on working with people on camera and of course shot in HD with humorous bits plus elaborate lighting diagram breakdowns with technical bits about size, height and distance of gear. It is available on-line at or directly from me via email montizambert@ at $10 off list price.

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1st Published 01/12/2012
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