How to create soft light using diffusion & reflection

Oct 9 2008


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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12 Responses to “How to create soft light using diffusion & reflection”

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

  2. thanks for the tips lisa …
    appreciated …

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

  4. 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.

  5. Thanks for the tips Lisa :)

  6. 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.

  7. [...] 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 [...]

  8. 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.

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

  10. Steve Partridge July 10th, 2009 at 6:59 pm

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

  11. 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!

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