Defining Diffusion Outdoors
Images and Content Contributed by: Richard Newman
One of the most important skills a photographer can have is the know how for diffusing harsh light outdoors. The correct use of diffusion will help you create better portraits and close-ups. There are several types of tools for controlling harsh shadows, if you’re a fashion photographer you’ll no doubt use a 20’x20 frame diffusion to control your light. For those working with people or small subjects outside, a portable reflector like a Zip Disk is a must have.
Usually portable reflectors are used to reflect light onto or into a scene but you can also use the translucent disc (or diffusion) to let light through onto the subject.
The action steps required for this are a stand or an assistant that can hold the reflector between your subject and the light source, (in this case the sun because we are outside). What you want to do is place the reflector above or to the side of your subject, between your subject and the sun. The bigger the reflector or diffuser you use the more diffused area you have to work with, and the smoother the light will be on your subject.
Here is an example of using diffusion to photograph a Calla Lilly in my yard, you can easily see how the diffusion cuts down the contrast and gives a very beautiful, smooth photograph.
This simple lighting technique is great for a number of subjects. Try it out with your pets, a family member or flowers. All you have to do is get out there and practice!