Saturday, December 19, 2009

You Think I Need That Scrim, Jim?

Yep. I do. In fact, how about Jimmy's Scrim Jim?

My Westcott Scrim Jim,that is.

Sometimes, the best tools in our lighting arsenals are the low-tech tools: Tools like reflectors and flags and scrims.

Take a look at those two pics of Dahlia at the top. Both are nearly un-processed except for re-sizing and a touch of Curves adjustment and sharpening. Both were snapped by my good pal, Rick, of Simi Studio, while we were out at El Mirage Dry Lake, shooting the Pretty Girl DVD stuff. Rick captured Dahlia using his Canon 20D. He had set the camera to capture in monochrome mode and, as such, they're not post-prod B&W conversions.

Both pics were shot with early-ish mid-day sun as the primary source. For both, a white reflector was employed, adding fill from below. But there's a difference between the pic on the left and the photo on the right. That difference was a scrim, a scrim with translucent, diffusion material, placed above and behind the model, knocking down the harsh light from the sun.

The hair on the top of Dahlia's head is nearly blown-out in the pic on the left. In the pic on the right, shot a few minutes later with my Scrim Jim added to the mix, the highlights on Dahlia's hair are near perfect.

How'd that happen?


By adding a simple scrim with diffusion fabric, we knocked the sunlight down about a full stop and, all at once, the highlights in Dahlia's hair were right on the money!

You don't, of course, need to use a Scrim Jim to modify the light in this way. Any sort of framed, diffusion fabric, like rip-stop nylon, can be used. I know plenty of people who make their own, DIY scrims and reflectors. I have. They work just as effectively.

Personally, though, I like my Scrim Jim because it's easy to set-up and dis-assemble, it comes with its own, handy-dandy carrying bag, it attaches easily to stands and grip arms, plus I have a number of different materials that can be quickly attached, e.g., white, silver, gold, diffusion, black. By using different fabrics, my Scrim Jim quickly converts to a reflector, a scrim, or a flag.

As mentioned, the pretty girl at the top is Dahlia. Photos by (and copyright) Rick H., Simi Studio. Dahlia did her own makeup. I assisted.

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