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Artificial Silk vs Silk for 12x12 frames

John Melove

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Hi John,


Artificial silk is a bit more resistant and very often what we call just "silk" is, in fact, artificial silk. Actually, I don't recall ever seeing real silk for large frames.

The light for this photo shoot is shadowless. I could see a foam core reflector and the large white surface is used as a background. The lighting in this video is too flat for my taste, but maybe in the actual pictures the lighting is done by the strobes so it can be completely different than what you see on the video!

It is not very complicated to get such a soft light. Find a very large white surface, really as large as possible (it can be a reflector, silk, a wall, ceiling or whatever) and either bounce or shoot a light though it! Silk is not the softest diffusion material, I would try full grid cloth or double diffusion. Personally I would probably bounce a quite powerful open-face or PAR into some bleached muslin.

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You can't conclude anything from the video- you're only seeing the effect of the working lights.

The photographic light is much more directional- a key from slightly above eye level and much harder crosslights from behind, probably from the brolly you see at 0:04.

The background is blown out with a light through it.

Edited by Mark Dunn
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There are 3 types of silks I know of and they come in many standard sizes and custom sizes from manufactures like Matthews, American Grip and Rag place. Full, Half and Quarter. There is also black silk that cuts bounce white silks have.


2 types of 12x12 silk comonly used:


china silk(real) known as half silk

lightweight medium diffustion, 1 stop


poly silk(artificial) know as full silk

denser and softer diffusion, usually a little over a stop and half


I perfer china but it is more expensive.

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Oh, so China silk is real silk ?

I guess it would be better to call china natural silk and poly silk man made.

The poly is made with synthetic fibers while natural silk is derived from silk worms.

The process to produce china silk makes it more expensive.

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