How to Use Diffusion Fabrics & Nets to Modify Natural Light

It’s no secret that photographers love to use natural light whenever possible. The sun is the least expensive light source available to us, and we can almost always depend on it to shine upon our models in ways that are difficult to replicate artificially.

However, natural light is one element that we as photographers are not fully in control of. Atmospheric conditions and time play major roles in the way sunlight falls upon the Earth, and no two skies are exactly the same. Luckily, in the following video, Joel Grimes shares how he was able to achieve his desired results without drowning out the available light with harsh strobes:

The trick? Grimes first employs a diffusion silk above his model to scatter the light and prevent any unflattering, dark shadows. To keep the silk secure overhead, he attaches the diffusion silk to an 8×8 Scrim Jim Frame.

He then places her in front of an 8×8 double black net. Without the net, Grimes demonstrates that the background becomes a bit blown out when exposing for his subject’s face. The net itself knocks down the elements that lie behind it by two stops, creating a much more contrasty, dynamic image.

comparison in natural light portraits

Quick and convenient, this no frills setup requires just a few pieces of equipment and not a whole lot of effort. Regardless of whether you happen to be on the edge of a tranquil beach or in the center of a harsh desert, these tools will create consistent, predictable lighting results from a source that’s prone to variables.

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