Diffused light is an incredibly important tool for any photographer or cinematographer. It’s soft, flattering quality is used in various setups. Of course, not everyone can afford expensive softboxes or silk flags. Luckily, making your own DIY light diffuser is not as difficult as it may seem. In this article, you’ll find various inexpensive ways to make your own light diffuser.
What is a light diffuser?
First, let’s define light diffuser
A light diffuser can be created in various ways, but understanding what it does in the most fundamental way will help you understand how you can achieve diffused light through whatever means you have.
LIGHT DIFFUSER DEFINITION
What is a light diffuser?
A light diffuser is a semi-transmittant piece of material placed in between a light source and a subject to diffuse the light as it passes through the material. To create diffused light, cinematographers and gaffers often use these light diffusers. This material does not solely block or cut light, but redirects light as it passes through for a diffused light spread on a subject.
What is a light diffuser used for?
- Creating soft lighting
- Creating soft shadows
- Less contrast
Now that we've got the basic definition down, let's run through the various materials and techniques you can use to make a light diffuser.
How to diffuse light for cheap
One thing to consider when creating your own DIY light diffuser is what material will work best with the light source. This is especially important if you are using non-LED lights that tend to produce quite a bit of heat.
Parchment paper is great at diffusing light and handling high amounts of heat. Check out this video to see how well parchment paper can diffuse light for just a few dollars.
As you can see, the parchment paper can handle high heat. You can simply use some C-47s (clothespins) to clip the paper onto the barn doors of your light or use them close to your light source.
How to diffuse light with a shower curtain
Frosted shower curtain
Say you want an extremely soft lighting aesthetic. This means you want a large, diffused light source close to your subject. You may not want to use ten rolls of parchment paper to increase the area of diffusion, so opt for our next DIY light diffuser — a frosted shower curtain.
A frosted shower curtain’s semi-translucent material makes it great for diffusing light and providing a large diffusing surface area. Check out the frosted shower curtain DIY light diffuser in action in the video below.
Not only is the frosted shower curtain a great, large light diffuser, it is also relatively cheap to buy. Try it for yourself to see how much of a difference it can make in your lighting setups.
- What is Soft Light Photography? →
- The Qualities of Light You Should Know →
- What is Hard Light? And When to Use It →
DIY diffused lighting
White bed sheet
Next on our list is something you might not even need to go out to buy when making your own DIY light diffuser — a white bed sheet. A thin white bed sheet can be the perfect material to diffuse light softly into your scene.
An optional DIY step in using a white bed sheet as a light diffuser, is to create a frame for it from PVC pipes. Check out how simple and relatively cheap making this frame for your DIY lighting diffuser can be in the video below.
While creating the homemade light diffuser frame is optional, it can be more effective at diffusing light in a fixed position. One of the problems you may run into is that the white bed sheet you have might be too thick and cut more light than you’d like. If this is the case for you, our last homemade light diffuser material may be your solution.
Make a light diffuser with sheers
Sheers are essentially lightweight fabric that are meant to go over windows to soften the lighting of a home coming through the windows. This makes it the perfect material to use for a homemade light diffuser.
In the same fashion as the shower curtain, check out the video below to learn how to make a frame and use sheers to make a light diffuser.
Hopefully this list has given you a few options to try out and experiment with to find what works best with your lighting gear. Once you have the proper tools to create a light diffuser, you’ll be amazed at what kind of shots and lighting setups you can create.
What is Soft Light Photography?
Once you’ve created your homemade light diffuser, you’ll want to learn a few techniques on how to use it. In our next article, we dive into soft light photography as well as a few tips on how to use a light diffuser to create it.