5 Products for Diffused Light

Diffused light makes images look soft and flattering. The exposures from diffused light are even and the shadows are minimal. But what is diffused light and how do you create it?

Soft vs. Hard Light

When we refer to hard light, we're talking about light that travels on an unobstructed path from the source (lamp) to the subject. Light rays leave the lamp in a straight line and arrive at the subject in that line. Soft light does not travel straight. Instead, it is either shined through something that diffuses the light or it is bounced into something white. The light rays are no longer traveling in a straight line and get spread in all different directions. This is why you have minimal shadows with soft light. 

What Can Be Used to Create Diffused Light?

Really any object can be used to diffuse light as long as it does not kill the intensity. Here are 5 products that give you diffused light. While there are lots of products out there that create great diffusion, these were picked to show you the range of what can be used.

1. White Diffusion

This is a product you would have to buy in a professional photography shop. Like most gels, it comes in rolls that are four feet tall and it's twenty-five feet long when you unroll the whole thing. White diffusion comes in four levels: Full, half, quarter and eighth. Full gives off more diffusion than eighth, but it also kills more intensity from the light.

2. Muslin

Muslin is a thick cloth that can be used as a diffusion. You would want to get a bleached muslin to keep the color white. Because it is very thick, muslin is a great diffuser, however, it does kill a lot of the light coming from the lamp that is shining through it.

3. Silk

Silk is much thinner than muslin and will give you diffused light. It won't be as diffused as muslin, but it won't kill your lights output either.

4. Heavy Frost aka Shower Curtain

This is a thick, somewhat clear material that really diffuses your light. In camera shops, it's marketed as heavy frost and in reality, it's a shower curtain.

5. Bounce Board

This isn't diffusion in the sense that you shine a light through it, but a bounce board is great at creating soft light. Basically you set the board up so it is facing the subject. You shine your light into the board and it bounces back at the subject. 

These are only a few examples of diffused light. Again, almost anything can be used as long as the light will shine through it. Just keep in mind the object should be white in color, or else it will affect the color of your diffused light.

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