Thursday, 2 August 2012


The main properties of diffused light are that it is scattered and ‘incoherent’. Light gets diffused when it either passes through a diffusion material like a scrim or when it is reflected off surfaces with a matt finish. Apart from these there is one other type of diffusion that is atmospheric that happens when there is fog or mist on scene. Mist, clouds, rains etc. all diffuse light in their own ways. They tend to bring their own form to the subjects by desaturating colours, losing detail rendering the image soft etc. When a distant view is seen through layers of mist, clouds, fog etc. these increase the sense of depth of the scene. The term Aerial Perspective refers to rending the feel of depth in an image by the use of these natural elements.

diffusion of light
Photo By SantiMB

 Photographers often create a unique foggy feel to their pictures by attaching a UV filter to their lens and breathing on it. The effect obtained is unlike the ones obtained from true soft focus filters.

Inside of the studio Photographic light can be easily altered and diffused by various means. However diffuse light produced inside of a studio is different from diffuse light that occurs in nature. In the studio photographers use various nets or scrims over the light to diffuse it. The thicker the scrim the more diffused the light appears. They also make use of smoke or fog machines to recreate the natural feel caused by fog and mist. The motion picture industry also uses very large scrims stretched on location to cover a wide area.

Importance of Diffusion

light diffusion
Photo By Stumayhew

Light Diffusion

There are many photographic situations that call for the use of soft light to reduce contrast between the shadows and highlights. Also it is the preferred form of light for people portraits as skin looks smooth and small blemishes become unnoticeable under soft light. The softer the skin of the subject the better it responds to diffused light. Some form of diffusion is needed when shooting in the beach or when shooting fashion and portraits outdoors as it softens the light and also prevents the subject from squinting in the harsh sun.

In the next article we will discuss about Light Modifiers - Light Stands

Related Reading

  1. Translucency
  2. Transparency
  3. Opacity
  4. Diffusion
  5. Shadows