Haze is a commercial and portrait photographer based in the southwest of France, in this video he shares some creative ways to use scrims and flags to control and shape light for the desired effect.
Scrims and flags, what are they? A scrim is a material that you place between your light source and your subject that will allow you to reduce the light or diffuse it. There are different sorts and sizes, the ones you will use will of course depend on the project you are working on and the desired effects.
I will be using the Godox scrims and flag kits. The SF6090 kit and the SF4560 kit. 6090 and 4560 being the size of flags and scrims.
Now let’s see what these kits consist of: one black single and one black double nets to help you reduce highlights on your subject, really useful if you want to reduce the contrast of your scene or if you want to balance your image. We also have one stop silk screen, the name of it says it all, it will reduce your light by one stop and also diffuse your light, this will reduce and soften your shadows and give you a less harsh look, of course if you wish to. A black block solid flag that can cut or block the light. I also often use this as a negative fill. And finally a two-stop silk screen to further diffuse your light and for an even softer look. You also have these fingers and dots that act just like the scrims I just mentioned but will cover smaller surfaces and areas. You have industry standard color borders to easily identify them. And these are open flags which means you have an open border with no binding for softer transitions.
There is no right or wrong way to use them, remember these are tools, so stay creative be creative, think out of the box, but I’m sure these kits will help you create the images that you want.
For my portraits I often work on location indoors and outdoors with a temporary setup. I don’t have a lot of space and don’t have a lot of options, for backgrounds, backdrops, basically I’m trying to work with what I have and you guessed it this is where your scrims and flags will become useful they will give you more freedom and more options to create the images you want. I wanted to use the textures, the plants, the greens, the bushes that are at the back of the house in the garden, but the light was already problematic thanks to the black flags, I was able to block specific areas to make my scene work.
The two solid black flags are blocking the lights giving us an even exposure
I then added the one-stop silk to diffuse my light
For the second example I went a little bit further with the initial setup, same background but slightly different angle.
I wanted to get rid of the dappled light, so we used both black solid flags to block it, once the flags were in place, we had an even exposure again.
You can see that there is a little bit of lights in her hair on their back and just a tiny bit on the left cheek on her chest, but I wanted to accentuate that, so I decided to use the two-stop screen silk not to diffuse light but to use it as a white bounce.
It was almost 11 o’clock I think it was past 11 o’clock, the sun is high hitting hard giving us a harsh light, this is the type of image that you would get without any accessories.
I wanted a softer look, I wanted to balance my image so that we can actually see the colors of the tree that is right behind her. For this one I added a two stop silk for the face placed high up because of the angle of the sun, then I added a black flag to block some of the light at the bottom half of the image, and I added another solid black flag on the other side as a negative fill to suck out a bit of lights and to give me some more shadows on the face for more depth.
2 stops screen silk + white bounce
2 stops screen silk + negative fill
Now let’s go indoors and see how these kits can help me in a home studio setup. Something I always struggle to do is photographing people with white outfits, usually what happens is the face is correctly exposed but the shirt or whatever they’re wearing is over exposed. One simple way to solve this problem is to use a net. Single or double it’s up to you and what you are trying to achieve. And of course use the open side of the flag if you want a smooth transition. I also did a few shots with the double stop silk as the bounce. And the one with a solid black as a negative fill. Which one do you prefer?
Silk as the bounce
Solid black as a negative fill
I wanted to work with a hard light, not too hard kind of in-between look, but I wanted more control on my backdrop I want it to be darker. So we are working with only one light here are some of the combinations that we used. One stop silk for the face and one solid black flag to control the light on the backdrop and another solid black used as a negative fill.
Same configuration but I replaced the negative fill with the white bounce to fill up those shadows.
I’m using a single Godox AD1200Pro here, bare bulb, you can of course add any additional light modifier if you want to go further if you want more control. And for this next one we already know what to do for the white shirt, a single black net will do.
Without black net
With black net (no more clipping in the white shirt)
I’m diffusing my light with one stop silk, and again tried the black solid flag as a negative fill and then used the two stop silk as a white bounce.
1 stop screen silk + white bounce
1 stop screen silk + negative fill
The image you’re about to see is closer to my style, the mood the vibe the darkness the contrast, nothing crazy but this is the type of look that I love. I will only be using the two black flags to constrict my light and give it a shape and direction. This can be useful if you want to emphasize a certain part of the image, for me it’s about the mood.
These scrims and flags are really easy to assemble and disassemble, these will become important tools in your toolbox. The entire kit comes with its own sturdy bag with multiple pockets that makes it easy to store all the different items. Plus, it is solid, and it is slim. I will probably use these scrims and flags in my work in the near future for both my photography and film work.