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How to create soft light using diffusion & reflection

Video by Redpilot Media.

Learning how to correctly using diffusers and reflectors will make a huge difference in your portrait photography. But don’t just take my word for it… Watch and learn from this footage I captured of Scott Bourne and Scott Stulberg demonstrating how to use diffusion and reflection to get nice, soft light on ANPW contest winner, Cathy Chung at the Mormon Row Barns in the Grand Tetons.

Travel & stock photographer, Scott Stulberg never leaves home without his 32″ Photoflex diffuser and soft/gold reflector ($40). And if you’ve seen Scott’s photos you’ll know that he is a master at lighting his subjects.

Reflector/diffuser combos are light, portable, and fit nicely in most photobags, especially the Lowepro CompuTrekker backpack. If you have a smaller bag you can always get a smaller bounce! They come in loads of different sizes and are pretty affordable… mostly.

Like all things associated with photography, reflectors can get pricey and I understand that you might not have the bucks to buy a decent bounce. So if you are on a shoestring budget, head to your nearest craft or Staples and buy a few white board for $2 each. Then, put your subject in the shade so you don’t need to diffuse the sun. Done. cool.

I have a bunch of whiteboards lying around my apartment that I can quickly grab for indoor macros or for quick shoots on the fly. I still use them on shoots and find them really handy and quite durable.

Lisa behind the scenes set-up
Using a whiteboard as a bounce is cool and cheap.

Now go take pictures and be merry!

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  • Reply
    Kenny Hyder
    October 9, 2008 at 6:13 PM

    Nice! I’ll have to try that the next time I’m not shooting HDR! :)

  • Reply
    October 9, 2008 at 6:13 PM

    thanks for the tips lisa …
    appreciated …

  • Reply
    October 9, 2008 at 6:23 PM

    Great tips – cheers Lisa. Guess I know what I’m off to buy this weekend now… ;)

  • Reply
    October 9, 2008 at 7:46 PM

    I keep whiteboards like that for other kinds of work.

    As far as camera gear goes though, $40 is still pretty cheap. It is still a good technique to know just in case something comes up and it needs to be McGuyvered.

  • Reply
    Urban Dweller
    October 9, 2008 at 11:02 PM

    Thanks for the tips Lisa :)

  • Reply
    October 10, 2008 at 6:22 AM

    There are lots of fun ghetto diffusers and reflectors to be had in a pinch. Gold and silver wrapping paper can work if you’re desperate at a holiday party. Cheap bedsheets, wax paper, aluminum foil (dull side) etc.

  • Reply
    In The Sphere: Vancouver in Focus | BlueFur.com
    October 10, 2008 at 12:16 PM

    […] some of that shutterbug enthusiasm through one of her most recent posts. In it, she talks about how to create soft light using diffusion and reflection. Check it out and you’ll take better pictures […]

  • Reply
    October 10, 2008 at 3:41 PM

    Very informative! Thanks for this. I used a diffuser for a few shoots during the summer, but I probably didn’t know what I was doing with it as much as I should have.

  • Reply
    Trying To Find The Road Not Taken » Blog Archive » Creating Soft Light
    October 13, 2008 at 10:57 AM

    […] Found this via MostlyLisa’s site. […]

  • Reply
    Daniel Timoldi
    June 15, 2009 at 6:19 AM

    Nice post. Thanks for the info. Also, I find a 8×10 grey card does a nice job of providing fill light.

  • Reply
    Steve Partridge
    July 10, 2009 at 6:59 PM

    This was very helpful! I really enjoyed the video clips they explained a lot.
    Thanks for posting this!

  • Reply
    October 9, 2009 at 8:21 PM

    Hi Lisa! I found your blog through your Flickr– I was doing a search trying to learn more about the technical aspect of diffusing/reflecting light and just being a good assistant in general. This post was super helpful, and I love the idea of using a whiteboard as a bounce!

    Thanks so much, I’m so glad to have discovered your blog!

  • Reply
    January 16, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    You are an absolutely amazing photographer.. the best I’ve seen in awhile! Pleasure looking at your photos! :)

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