The price of diffuse light

Until recently, I used a 10ft x 20ft popup tent for getting softer light on sunny days. Bought for $1200, the tent lasted five years and was well worth the expense and the effort required to set it up. A couple of weeks ago, the tent was damaged by a storm and repairing it would take a while. That prompted me to try a more portable solution than the 90-pound pop-up.

In movie-making, the standard solution is silk stretched on a frame and raised on two stands. Due to the heavy-duty stands and sandbags required to keep it in place, the entire set of equipment is actually heavier than the tent, but individual components are much lighter and easier to move.

I just priced the 12ft x 12ft kit at B&H: $1520 with shipping. All that for one light modifier. If you ever wondered why professional photography is expensive, this is one of the reasons.

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8 Responses to The price of diffuse light

  1. Tim Covington says:

    As I’ve gotten more into photography, I’ve discovered that great pictures are really about the light. And, getting the right light can be a PITA. Luckily, there is Lightroom and Photoshop, so the light does not have to be perfect.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      Software can’t make up for detail lost to overexposure.
      It can’t change the angle or the quality of light.

      At a great cost in time, it’s possible to improve an already good image, but fixing a bad one is a lost cause.

  2. Erin Palette says:

    Speaking of light diffusers, what happened to the thing that broke while I was there?

    • Oleg Volk says:

      I got the light repaired for about $70. Still need to get the replacement part for the speedring connecting it to the softbox.

  3. Mike Thorn says:

    Not to mention that the twelve-by takes two people to raise or lower it, or move it anywhere. And requires a 12ft van to move it anywhere. And utterly difficult to stabilize in anything but a calm day. It’s really only suitable for larger crews.

    But it makes beautiful light, so we build 8×8’s and 12×12’s and 20×20’s and 20×40’s and we do it with love…

  4. Dan Todd says:

    That is screaming to be Jerry rigged with PVC or thin conduit/copper.

  5. JoeS says:

    Yep. PVC a silk top sheet, some clamps & camera tripods. I can do that. W/O using PVC cement the entire set up would go into a large duffle or plastic storage locker. If you already have surplus tripods then your out of pocket expense is going to be in the $200.00 or so range. FWIW I’ve made similar set ups for kennel shading using galvanized fence railing & plastic tarps.

    • JoeS says:

      Whoops…wasn’t offering to do it, just observing I could/have done like projects. FWIW your enough of a DIY kind of guy to pull off such a project.

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