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Creative Ideas for diffusion.


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#1 rickeisenstein

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 01:21 AM

I was wondering what are some of the innovative ideas for diffusion other than using diffusion gels in front of lights. Perhaps some other materials in lieu of using gels.
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#2 rajavel

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 06:03 AM

shower curtains, acrylic sheets, translucent glass, translucent fabric, glass bricks, grid cloth.
i once worked with an australian photographer who had brought with him a special type of Sail cloth which he used for diffusion. the result was fantastic.
the key is to experiment through trial and error method i think.
cheers!
raj
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 11:46 AM

shower curtains, acrylic sheets, translucent glass, translucent fabric, glass bricks, grid cloth.

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Yes, there are lots of materials that will diffuse light, and lots of surfaces one can bounce light off of. A long time ago before I could afford gels, I used to shine photofloods through a frame of colored tissue paper from an art store. Got all sorts of interesting pastel colors (gold, peach, cyan, etc.) Was something of a fire hazard, of course...

In terms of softening light though, it's important to not forget the basic principle that the softness of a light is merely due to the size of the source (the diffusion, not the lamp behind it) relative to the subject, and once you evenly fill a surface of diffusion with light, it can't get any softer unless it gets bigger or the subject moves closer to it. So other than color casts, the only difference in types of diffusion is the amount of specular versus diffused light they transmit. In other words, there are lots of different ways of ending up at the same result, so ultimately it's good to find a practical method rather than an exotic one. If I EVENLY fill a frame of stretched cotton or nylon or frosted glass, etc. with light, with no specular light leaking through and no hot spots, then the soft light that results is basically the same (assuming no color cast is also picked up.) Some people can get overly romantic notions regarding some pet method of softening light when they are multiple ways of achieving a similar result, so use whatever is fast, affordable, practical, etc.
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#4 Chris Cooke

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 03:30 PM

[quote name='David Mullen' date='Jun 4 2005, 10:46 AM']
Yes, there are lots of materials that will diffuse light, and lots of surfaces one can bounce light off of.

White foam core works wonderfully for bouncing large lights. You can buy 4*8 foot sheets at many office supply stores. Be careful of fire hazards when using diffusion or bounce cards that are not made specifically for lighting. One of my favorite diffusion materials is light grid cloth or silent light grid cloth from Rosco. Straight up grid cloth from Rosco works great too but you need a lot bigger source/sources to get the intensity that you need. If you want to hold the beam pattern of a light but want it not so hard, put some tough frost behind the barndoors. It takes a lot of heat to melt that stuff.
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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 03:43 PM

David makes a great point. You sometimes encounter the most complicated contraptions to make soft light - when a much simpler way could have achieved the same effect. Simply because soft light - and the principles of it - are seldom fully understood. I myself just figured it out a couple of years ago and it was just by accident, really.
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#6 Josh Bass

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 09:40 AM

This guy in town told me to try bubble wrap. I haven't done so yet. . .but maybe one of you has. Sounds interesting.
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#7 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 02:18 PM

I fully agree with Adam and David and would like to add that repeatability and convenience are important. Why lug around shower curtains that you're not sure to find easily? Plus they are alot heavier than Lee and Rosco diffusion materials.
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#8 Kris Carrillo

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 03:05 PM

one of my favorite diffusion materials to use right now is Reynold's Cut Rite wax paper. to me, it's somewhere between opal and 216. it's cheap, heat resistant, and doesn't spread the light as much as 216 does. it's so cheap, i tell my electrics not to save it and just toss it after we wrap.

just finished a shoot yesterday at a bar, we lit the bar with 150 fresnels and 4' single kino's. we had Cut Rite on all the 150's and it worked perfect. it got me down to the stop i wanted to be at, it took the hard edge off the lights but kept them directional. we also doubled some up and put it on one of our kino up-lights and it got the job done.

i'd recommend buying a roll of this stuff and keeping it in your bag all the time. for less than $3 a roll, you can't go wrong. i'm surprised that i haven't seen more people using it.

the only downside is it doesn't come in large rolls. i think it's probably a 12" roll, so you won't be able to skin a 4x4 frame with the stuff, but for smaller instruments, like 650's and down it'll work fine.

i've also used baking parchment paper, which is a lot heavier, more like heavy frost. it doesn't work as well, because it cuts so much light and it will eventually scorch and turn brown.
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#9 Paul Bruening

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Posted 15 June 2005 - 01:28 AM

Visquin (sp?) works fine too. You can buff it with sand paper or steel wool to get varied performance. Also, hardware store tarps in smallish sizes often have one side colored and the other in a silvery-greyish tone which takes light coats of plastic paint well. I personally love the 1" x 4' x 8' styro insulation sheets. They are silver foil on one side and white foam on the other. The only hassle with them is that you need a truck big enough to haul them around. They're cheap at around 6 to 8 bucks a sheet so you don't cry when the odd one gets busted up by crew. I have also gotten useful results from muslin and osnaberg (sp?) fabrics. Of course, all of these cheap solutions have some fire hazard associated with them, so, mind your distance from the source.
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Broadcast Solutions Inc