QUESTION: Inexpensive _uniform_ backlight diffuser

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by BD, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. BD

    BD Guest

    Hey, all.

    I recently stumbled on a site with some rather nice nude model pix; the
    photographer accomplished a very interesting effect:

    The subject was backlit with a very bright, uniform white panel. This
    was the only lightsource in the image. This resulted in only an outline
    of the subject being visible - all surfaces facing the camera were
    almost completely dark.

    He then (I assume) went around the edges of the subject in post, and
    converted all that white backlight to black.

    The result was a very compelling outline of the model. Nice effect.

    I can see how I could accomplish a similar effect in post, but am not
    sure what I could use for a lightsource to obtain the image in the
    first place. At first glance, some kind of diffusion material of the
    kind used to cover fluorescent ceiling lights makes sense; I'd make a
    simple frame for it to keep it stable, and for additional diffusion I
    could staple some kind of light white fabric overtop of the frame. I'd
    then put a very bright lamp behind the panel, and there's my
    lightsource.

    Does that sound like a reasonably effective means of diffusing light
    for an application such as this? Are there any other 'silver bullets'
    for such a lighting requirement? Ideally inexpensive ones? ;)

    Thanks for all ideas!

    BD
     
    BD, Apr 27, 2006
    #1
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  2. BD

    ASAAR Guest

    On 27 Apr 2006 13:06:15 -0700, BD wrote:

    > The subject was backlit with a very bright, uniform white panel. This
    > was the only lightsource in the image. This resulted in only an outline
    > of the subject being visible - all surfaces facing the camera were
    > almost completely dark.
    >
    > He then (I assume) went around the edges of the subject in post, and
    > converted all that white backlight to black.


    A bright, uniform white panel would be nice if you already have
    one, but there's no need for uniformity. All you'd have to do to
    accomplish the same effect would be to have the subject's background
    lighting bright enough to saturate (burnout) the sensor's pixels.

    > I can see how I could accomplish a similar effect in post, but am not
    > sure what I could use for a lightsource to obtain the image in the
    > first place. At first glance, some kind of diffusion material of the
    > kind used to cover fluorescent ceiling lights makes sense; I'd make a
    > simple frame for it to keep it stable, and for additional diffusion I
    > could staple some kind of light white fabric overtop of the frame. I'd
    > then put a very bright lamp behind the panel, and there's my
    > lightsource.
    >
    > Does that sound like a reasonably effective means of diffusing light
    > for an application such as this? Are there any other 'silver bullets'
    > for such a lighting requirement? Ideally inexpensive ones? ;)


    It might be easier using multiple small lamps rather than one very
    bright one. You might even see several hot spots that they'd create
    in the fabric, but using an appropriate exposure, the background
    would appear uniformly bright in the shot, which is similar to the
    effect often seen in the blown out areas in snow scenes that are
    exposed for the subject instead of the snow. But if a single bright
    light is used and you didn't want to remove all but a sliver of the
    background, with a carefully selected exposure, the brightest
    background would immediately surround the subject, gradually
    darkening in all directions away from the subject, aka an extreme
    vignette, which might make for a nice cameo.
     
    ASAAR, Apr 28, 2006
    #2
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  3. BD

    tomm42 Guest

    Google "Lightforms" may have one big enough. Not cheap but a good bang
    for the buck.

    Tom
     
    tomm42, Apr 28, 2006
    #3
  4. BD

    BD Guest

    >A bright, uniform white panel would be nice

    Yes, I never considered putting an opaque panel behind the subject and
    illuminating that instead. I will try that first. ;)
     
    BD, Apr 28, 2006
    #4
  5. In rec.photo.digital BD <> wrote:
    : Hey, all.

    : I recently stumbled on a site with some rather nice nude model pix; the
    : photographer accomplished a very interesting effect:

    : The subject was backlit with a very bright, uniform white panel. This
    : was the only lightsource in the image. This resulted in only an outline
    : of the subject being visible - all surfaces facing the camera were
    : almost completely dark.

    : He then (I assume) went around the edges of the subject in post, and
    : converted all that white backlight to black.

    : The result was a very compelling outline of the model. Nice effect.

    Just off the top of my head I have another way to get this effect (if I
    understand the description correctly). Use a black background and a strong
    flash behind the model aimed at the camera (with the model between the
    camer and the flash). The light of the flash would illuminate the edges of
    the model with everything else dark. Flesh and other thin parts (like
    hair) would transmit the light to the front where the camera would "see"
    it. One other effect that might be interresting is if the model is fresh
    from a hot tub and the studio is relatively cool with a fairly high
    humidity. This would not be tocause the model discomfort, but for the
    skin to be giving off moisture. If the conditions are properly managed
    (temp, humidity, etc) the skin would be giving off slight whisps of
    "steam" that would be backlit and thus captured by the camera. You would
    have to play with the various atmospheric conditions as I am not sure of
    the particulars. I can say I have seen this effect many times when
    spelunking (cave exploration). After physical activity, at a rest break
    our bodys tend to "smoke" in ways that could be interresting with
    backlighting.

    Just some thoughts off the top of my head. I haven't tried any of them so
    can't attest to their practicality.

    Randy

    ==========
    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
     
    Randy Berbaum, Apr 28, 2006
    #5
  6. It would be nice to see a link to the site. But from what we know your
    answer sounds right to me. Taking out a bright background might not be so
    easy in post as it would blend with the lit outline of skin. If I had an
    umbrella smaller than the model I might try to bounce it a bit. Your
    "wetness" ideas have merit...a spray bottle of water might come in handy to
    "sweat" the model.

    --
    Thanks,
    Gene Palmiter
    (visit my photo gallery at http://palmiter.dotphoto.com)
    freebridge design group

    "Randy Berbaum" <> wrote in message
    news:e2s4m5$c6j$...
    > In rec.photo.digital BD <> wrote:
    > : Hey, all.
    >
    > : I recently stumbled on a site with some rather nice nude model pix; the
    > : photographer accomplished a very interesting effect:
    >
    > : The subject was backlit with a very bright, uniform white panel. This
    > : was the only lightsource in the image. This resulted in only an outline
    > : of the subject being visible - all surfaces facing the camera were
    > : almost completely dark.
    >
    > : He then (I assume) went around the edges of the subject in post, and
    > : converted all that white backlight to black.
    >
    > : The result was a very compelling outline of the model. Nice effect.
    >
    > Just off the top of my head I have another way to get this effect (if I
    > understand the description correctly). Use a black background and a strong
    > flash behind the model aimed at the camera (with the model between the
    > camer and the flash). The light of the flash would illuminate the edges of
    > the model with everything else dark. Flesh and other thin parts (like
    > hair) would transmit the light to the front where the camera would "see"
    > it. One other effect that might be interresting is if the model is fresh
    > from a hot tub and the studio is relatively cool with a fairly high
    > humidity. This would not be tocause the model discomfort, but for the
    > skin to be giving off moisture. If the conditions are properly managed
    > (temp, humidity, etc) the skin would be giving off slight whisps of
    > "steam" that would be backlit and thus captured by the camera. You would
    > have to play with the various atmospheric conditions as I am not sure of
    > the particulars. I can say I have seen this effect many times when
    > spelunking (cave exploration). After physical activity, at a rest break
    > our bodys tend to "smoke" in ways that could be interresting with
    > backlighting.
    >
    > Just some thoughts off the top of my head. I haven't tried any of them so
    > can't attest to their practicality.
    >
    > Randy
    >
    > ==========
    > Randy Berbaum
    > Champaign, IL
    >
     
    Gene Palmiter, Apr 28, 2006
    #6
  7. BD

    Pat Guest

    As you see, there are numerous ways to do something like this. Using a
    bright white background is one way, but a few words of warning. If you
    get it too bright, you risk having the light bend around your subject
    and cause some distortion (like the sun at sunset distorts the
    horizon). Also, glare can be an issue. I would bet illuminating the
    feet would also be a bit of a trick. Not of it couldn't be overcome
    with lots of good equipment and technique.

    Here's are a few alternatives. Use a white background and reflected
    light to siloette the model. It's cheaper and easier. Then, in
    photoshop, take the contrast way up to create the effect. If you are
    using film, make a high contract inter-negative and print from that --
    same basic effect.

    You could also use a black background, as mentioned, the shoot the
    model. Either overexpose it or regular exposure and adjust the
    contrast. Then convert the image to a negative image.

    When I do similar things, I find that smoothing the final image give a
    more eye-pleasing result.
     
    Pat, Apr 28, 2006
    #7
  8. BD

    BD Guest

    Just some thoughts off the top of my head.

    Randy - Interesting ideas; the remote flash would work if I _had_ one.
    ;-)

    In fact, I'm not sure how well that _would_ work. Part of the effect
    here is that the larger surface area of the 'panel' lightsource means
    that more of the edges are illuminated, adding some additional
    dimension to the subject. I wish I'd flagged the site. Oh well.

    At this point, I think that a piece of white foamcore, illuminated from
    the front and sides, in an otherwise dark room, will be the best place
    for me to start experimenting.

    Thanks!!
     
    BD, Apr 28, 2006
    #8
  9. BD

    BD Guest

    BD, Apr 28, 2006
    #9
  10. BD

    dj_nme Guest

    BD wrote:
    >>It would be nice to see a link to the site.

    >
    >
    > I found the site.
    >
    > http://www/lorekphoto.com
    > -portfolio link (right side of page)
    > -fine art
    >
    > Many of the shots in the top few rows are illuminated from the back,
    > resulting in a nearly silhouette kind of effect.
    >
    > I can now see the steps that were taken to go from that effect, to one
    > such as
    >
    > http://www.lorekphoto.com/photo_gallery.html@PK4ns6A3Qd2jrN1dPa3pDUR3DUZnDJQaGKbpFJQbGKPo#photos
    >
    > This is what I am looking to emulate - on the cheap. ;-)
    >


    It looks like it was the model was lit from both sides from behind, the
    left light-source seems to be a stop brighter than the right.
    The defined shadows going from both the left and right across her back
    would suggest this.
     
    dj_nme, Apr 28, 2006
    #10
  11. BD

    Hunt Guest

    In article <>,
    says...
    >
    >Hey, all.
    >
    >I recently stumbled on a site with some rather nice nude model pix; the
    >photographer accomplished a very interesting effect:
    >
    >The subject was backlit with a very bright, uniform white panel. This
    >was the only lightsource in the image. This resulted in only an outline
    >of the subject being visible - all surfaces facing the camera were
    >almost completely dark.
    >
    >He then (I assume) went around the edges of the subject in post, and
    >converted all that white backlight to black.
    >
    >The result was a very compelling outline of the model. Nice effect.
    >
    >I can see how I could accomplish a similar effect in post, but am not
    >sure what I could use for a lightsource to obtain the image in the
    >first place. At first glance, some kind of diffusion material of the
    >kind used to cover fluorescent ceiling lights makes sense; I'd make a
    >simple frame for it to keep it stable, and for additional diffusion I
    >could staple some kind of light white fabric overtop of the frame. I'd
    >then put a very bright lamp behind the panel, and there's my
    >lightsource.
    >
    >Does that sound like a reasonably effective means of diffusing light
    >for an application such as this? Are there any other 'silver bullets'
    >for such a lighting requirement? Ideally inexpensive ones? ;)
    >
    >Thanks for all ideas!
    >
    >BD


    Take 2 - 4'x8' white foamcore panels (I'd use Gatorfoam for rigidity) and
    tape them into a V. Cover the opening in the V with Herculean Drafting Medium,
    and fire a couple of heads, stacked vertically inside the V) into the V. Place
    the unit behind the model, with the diffusion towards the model, obviously.
    Burn out the diffusion panel in exposure. Cheaper than a large parabolic light
    box.

    Hunt


    --
    NewsGuy.Com 30Gb $9.95 Carry Forward and On Demand Bandwidth
     
    Hunt, Apr 28, 2006
    #11
  12. BD

    BD Guest

    >take the contrast way up to create the effect.

    On further examination of the artist's images, I believe that
    enhancement of the contrast, as well as the blackening of the
    backgrounds, was done in post.

    Should make for a fun experiment. ;)
     
    BD, Apr 28, 2006
    #12
  13. BD

    Rob Novak Guest

    On 28 Apr 2006 07:37:44 -0700, "BD" <> wrote:

    >This is what I am looking to emulate - on the cheap. ;-)


    What you're getting is done right in camera with lighting - not in
    post by converting a white softbox to black.

    If you look at this in a fixed pitch font, I tried to diagram it out
    for you.


    /\ /\ <- strobe heads (positioned so that they're
    not completely blocked by the background)

    ---------- <- black panel



    X <- model




    O <- camera

    The light spills around the edge of the black background, the
    background stays black, and the light just catches the edges of the
    model. This setup is used all the time in product photograpy.

    --
    Central Maryland Photographers' Guild - http://www.cmpg.org
    Trouble in Paradise - http://rob.rnovak.net
    Strange, Geometrical Hinges - http://sgh.rnovak.net
     
    Rob Novak, Apr 28, 2006
    #13
  14. BD

    Rob Novak Guest

    On 28 Apr 2006 07:37:44 -0700, "BD" <> wrote:

    >This is what I am looking to emulate - on the cheap. ;-)


    Actually, now that I look at the shots you're talking about again, it
    just looks like sidelighting:




    ----------------------- <- Black backgdrop



    < X (model) > (strobes, probably with
    grids or barn-doors)




    O (camera)
    --
    Central Maryland Photographers' Guild - http://www.cmpg.org
    Trouble in Paradise - http://rob.rnovak.net
    Strange, Geometrical Hinges - http://sgh.rnovak.net
     
    Rob Novak, Apr 28, 2006
    #14
  15. BD

    BD Guest

    >What you're getting is done right in camera with lighting

    Ahhhhhhh.... I get it. It all makes so much sense now. I think I can
    pull that off quite easily, in fact.

    Thanks!!

    But what about the shots that have the white as the background? Would
    you agree that such an effect can be had by illuminating a white panel
    from an oblique angle, and perhaps overexposing slightly to get that
    'diffuse glow' kind of look to it?
     
    BD, Apr 28, 2006
    #15
  16. BD

    Rob Novak Guest

    On 28 Apr 2006 14:40:10 -0700, "BD" <> wrote:

    >But what about the shots that have the white as the background? Would
    >you agree that such an effect can be had by illuminating a white panel
    >from an oblique angle, and perhaps overexposing slightly to get that
    >'diffuse glow' kind of look to it?


    Just hang a white sheet and put the strobes/floods behind it. If you
    wanna be fancy, use a big 4' x 4' softbox on a strobe head and shoot
    into it with the model in front.
    --
    Central Maryland Photographer's Guild - http://www.cmpg.org
    Strange, Geometrical Hinges - http://sgh.rnovak.net
     
    Rob Novak, May 1, 2006
    #16
  17. BD

    BD Guest

    >Just hang a white sheet

    Yep, may as well make it simple.
     
    BD, May 1, 2006
    #17
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