mini scrim use

Using a Mini-Scrim for Better Photos

A very simple way to control light is through the use of a scrim. For small subjects and objects, a regular 42-inch round scrim or super size scrims of 60 inches or more can be a bit of overkill for just mucking about. Westcott makes a wonderfully portable sized, five-in-one that is only twenty inches and when folded in it’s carrying case is a tiny eight inches for about twenty bucks.

Here’s a quick example using a neighbor’s cactus that was showing some attractive color blossoms. Look carefully at the difference between photos and I think you’ll see that learning to use a scrim can help get you better lighting in your images.

full sun cactus imageThis first image was captured with full sun as the light source. Colors are bright and you might think that this works. Look at the harsh, deep dark patches in the shadow with no detail. This is the same kind of look you will get if you use on-camera flash.

full shade cactus imageIn order to tame the harsh shadows, I next captured the blooms in full shadow. This results in slightly less contrast and the color has become muted. I suppose the color could be pumped up in post-production but the shadow are still a bit blocked up.

scrim light on cactusHere a scrim was placed between the sun and subject. Even though the scrim is only twenty inches because of it’s close proximity to the flowers it is acting like a very large light source. Very nice overall light with soft shadows and color fidelity. All images were processed with the same settings straight out of the camera. (SOOC)

scrimA quick grab of the scrim in action. In addition, the kit comes with four other surfaces to reflect or block light in various intensities and colors. Black, gold, silver and white can all also be used to bend light to your will.

You can take this same lesson and apply it to larger subject such as people by using a larger scrim. Practice with it and you will find the larger the scrim and the distance it is to your subject you will be able to control the shadow edge transitions and depth of the shadow on your subject. Moving it further away while still covering your subject will give you slightly stronger shadows. Conversely, the scrim closer will make the light softer.

cactus blossom artSometimes you just gotta play! NIK filters, Photoshop extraction’ Layers and the Transform Tool.

These photos were captured with the Lumix LX100 the camera I call the ‘Pro’s Point & Shoot.’ A solid little performer built on a magnesium frame for about $700.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

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