This tutorial is about the lights photographers use. It starts off by describing the two basic lights available to photographers: hard lights and soft lights. With that out of the way, the tutorial moves on to compare two different types of soft lights: umbrellas and soft boxes (also know as bank lights). The tutorial describes a way to improve the catch lights a soft box creates in reflective subjects. Finally, the video explains how to make a simple diffusion frame that, when used with a light mounted on a second light stand, can replace a bank light. The primary reasons for building and using a diffusion frame instead of a soft box are as follows:
- The materials required are inexpensive.
- The tools required are minimal.
- The construction techniques required by the builder are simple.
- One diffusion screen can take the place of multiple sizes of soft boxes.
- The open architecture of a diffusion screen allows heat to dissipate easily.
But, the real reason for using a diffusion screen, with a light mounted independently from it, is to provide you with three lighting possibilities that no commercially available soft box can. They are:
- You can change the distance between the light and the diffusion screen (the distance between the light source and the front diffusion surface of all commercially available soft boxes is fixed).
- You can change the position of where and how the light hits the diffusion screen (the light source hits the center of the front diffusion surface of all commercially available soft boxes).
- You can change the size of the pattern of the light that hits the diffusion screen (the light source's pattern is designed to evenly cover the front diffusion surface of all commercially available soft boxes).
Bill of Materials for a 3 X 3 foot diffusion frame
- 12 feet of 1 X 1 clear finished pine @ 55 cents per foot $6.60
Some photographers use 1 X 2 lumber instead of 1 X 1 lumber for their diffusion frames. The price for both is approximately the same. In truth I have diffusion frames made from both sizes.
- 4, 1-inch or 4, 2-inch Corner Braces (price of 2-inch size) $3.92
The 1-inch corner braces are more than strong enough to support your frame with its Tough Lux covering but some photographers like to overbuild things so they might prefer the stronger 2-inch corners; I did!
While the 1-inch "L" shaped inside corner brackets only require 2 screws each while the larger 2-inch versions require 4 screws each. But, because I'm only using this wooden frame to hold a few ounces of Tough Lux in place I feel the smaller 1-inch versions are more than sufficient (even though I used the 2-inch size).
- 1 package of 100, #6 X ¾-inch Flat Head Phillips Wood Screws $2.27
I always buy screws and nails by the 100 count (or a 1 pound box). Doing this is much less expensive then buying these items 1 or 2 screws at a time.
- 1 quarter of a roll (48" X 15') of Tough Lux @ $65 per roll $16.25
The Set Shop sells 60" X 15' ($ 85.00) and 48" X 15' ($ 65.00) rolls of their Tough Lux. I buy the 60-inch wide rolls so I can also use it for backgrounds as well as diffusers. But, if your budget is tight, a 48-inch wide roll will work and it's 15-foot length will have a lot left over for many other applications. Furthermore, for the really frugal, you might consider hooking up with two of other photo buds and buying a roll collectively. Personally though, I buy a whole roll for myself because it is the diffusion material I use most frequently.
Total Expenditure: $29.04
It should be pointed out, that some collapsible metal hoop diffusers have a street price of close to $ 50.00 (with others coming in at over $ 85) and, while these diffusers certainly have a place in location photography (I have 4 of them!), the non-collapsible one described here is more adaptable for studio use, stores in a minimum of space (it's only ¾-inch thick), and is certainly less expensive.