Lesson 1. Full body lighting scheme. Part 4

by Oleg Ti


To soften and widen the light spot, I placed the frost-frame in front of the reflector with a diffusion gel covering whole area of this frame.

I often use this solution when I need to soften the hard light and to blur the border. This solution is often used by filmmakers because they generally have at their disposal enough strong sources of light, but in the world of photography it is not very useful decision.

I use wide diffusion gels whose width is 122 cm that is suitable for the frame I have in the studio. There are more large frames and special fabric having the ability to work in strong wind but providing necessary softness. But all this equipment is usually made for location usage and in the studio it is enough to have this size of the frame.

But in the picture you see I used the frost frame with reduced size, just 1 meter by 1 meter, made specifically for transportation in a car, a standard 122 cm frost-frame does not fit into it.

In this case, the frost-frame with the diffusion gel moved close to the reflector so you can see just a little influence on the spot but nevertheless you can see the different between pictures – the spot has become wider, the border of spot has become softer.


A more significant difference is obtained when I moved the frost-frame away of the reflector. The width of the spot of light on it increases, and it means that the diffusion effect would be greater.

And exactly this attribute attracts experienced and advanced photographers. Depending on the distance from the reflector, on the size of the light spot formed by the honeycomb, as well as on the type of diffusion gel you use, on the degree of its transparency we can significantly change the characteristics of light. As in the case of reflection from the walls, this is an excellent tool that allows you to control the hardness of light. In contrast to the soft box which has a poorly controlled light, this solution provides additional controls. I always recommend to beginners who want to learn the great technique of studio lighting: leave in the studio only reflectors, flags and frost frames with diffusion gels. At first, you should  make promise not to use softboxes for a month, working on all the creative and commercial shoots only with this set of tools. A month later, hardly any person would return to the softboxes, the ability to control all the nuances of all the characteristics of the light would be more attractive than simple, but primitive solutions you can get using softboxes.

Here we see that the spot has become more blurred, its borders expanded, but it is still far from ideal, how it is presented in the beginning of this article.


Having the desire to make a spot wider and the borders of it even softer, but not being able to continue to move the frost fame away of the reflector (it wil be visible in the picture) I begin to move the reflector away from the frost frame, increasing the spot of light on the diffusion gel, and thus making the light on the background more diffuse, and the borders of the light spot more blurred.

However, we must not forget that we are able to operate not only with the distance but also with the size of honeycomb. Usually each manufacturer has the set of honeycomb grids with different diameters of the cell. And sometimes you can operate even with the transparency of the diffusion gel – the more transparent gel we use the less soft light we get.


When I use a reflector, illuminating the gray background, I get it with neutral-gray color. Typically this color of the background looks lifeless cold. Even for our model, which has “ivory” color of the body it looks the same way in contrast to a neutral gray background. So to eliminate this dissonance, I put the cosmetic gel (184) on the reflector lighting the background. Although it is designed to correct model skin color (and this is a topic for another lesson), I pretty actively use it to colorize the background. Having the skin tones in the spectrum, the background light slightly “warm” background, and its tone goes well with the model.

If I need to enhance this effect, I can add additional gel, sometimes using three gels, having already fairly saturated color in the background, but in our case, given the “paleness” of our model, such a light interference filter is sufficient.


So let me analyze the results.

As result of this manipulation we got a nice, balanced image performing all the tasks:

A. We got a pattern of soft light on the model.

B. We distributed the light evenly on the model from head to feet.

C. We worked good with the details in the shadows.

D. We covered the background behind the model with focused light giving it a nice colored and blurred style.

Try to repeat this simple at first glance scheme to brought your working with light to automaticity, and this time spent on these efforts will pay off with fast, competent, attention to detail work in combat shooting mode, when you don’t have time to think about the light for hours and where you have a lot of another thing to pay attention to!

Good luck!

The previous parts of this lesson:
The first part of this lesson.
The second part of this lesson.
The third part of this lesson.