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Diffusing subject in bright sun, then brining him back up

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Hi Friends,

The stills below are from a location scout the other day.

I usually avoid facing the talent directly into the sun, but lets say for whatever reason I needed talent to face into near direct sun and I wanted to diffuse the subject to soften shadows. In this case, we just quickly held a Matthews Yellow Frame Silk (1.6 stop light loss) in front of the sun and it takes aways the harsh shadows. However, the subject is now 1.6 stops darker than the background which is brightly lit.

What is the best way to bring the subject back up 1.6 stops so he’s diffused / softer shadows, but matches the background?

Frame #3, I made a Photoshop mock up where I masked out the subject and brought up the levels. Would like to simulate this in real life / non post.

I’ve thought a few ways, but not sure if they’d work. I will test in a few days when I free up, but would love some suggestions.

1) Use a white Ultra Bounce to get some light reflected back onto the subject, but our angles might be limited.

2) Use several V-Mount 1 x 1 foot LEDs, which could very well bring the subject up since he’s technically “shaded” at this point

3) We have a 1200w HMI which we could bounce off a white card which might do it since subject is in the shade. But I’d like to avoid any lights other than battery power due to rugged location

4) Use a 1/4 silk which won’t soften the shadows nearly as much as Matthews Yellow frame Silk (1.6 stops), but would require less bounce or LED to bring subject back up.

What do you guys suggest?



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  • Sustaining Member

Use a less heavy silk when the background is light-toned and in full sun. Yes, you can try adding some soft HMI light but it would have to be pretty bright to get within a stop of direct sunlight levels.


Try to find a darker background to place behind the subject when using the heavier silk.


A white bounce from off to one side would help.

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  • Sustaining Member

I would also suggest using mirrors through a diffusion frame as a light source if you know that the place you are going to shoot in is going to have sun all day long (and if it is going to be sunny, of course)


You will have to adjust the direction of the mirror from time to time if you want to fill the frame evenly because the sun moves, however, it will be as powerful as a HMI and it runs with no battery.


You will have to pick a slightly heavier diffusion than a grid cloth for the mirror to be as soft as what you want to have, or you could place a 1.5 meters by 1.5 meters diffusion frame/s between the mirror/s and the larger frame.


Have a good day.

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