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Simple portraits with Scrims & Flags

the GODOX scrim & flag kits

I cannot believe it took this long to actually play with these and make a video about them. In this video I am going to show you some basic setups using scrims and flags, and show you how you can easily control and shape your light.

Scrims and flags… what are they? A scrim is basically 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 Scrim and flag kits by GODOX. The SF6090kit and the SF4560kit. 60x90cm and 45x60cm being of course, the size of flags and scrims.

This is what both kits consist of:

  • One black single and one black double net to help you reduce the highlights on your subject. It can help reduce the contrast, you can balance your image and more.

  • We also have a 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 giving you a less harsh look, of course, if you wish to.

  • A black block solid flag that can cut or block the light… I often use this as a negative fill too… but more on that later.

  • And finally a 2 stop silk screen to further diffuse your light and for an even softer look… I also use it as a white bounce…

  • 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 do things, or almost. Remember these are tools, be creative, think out of the box, these scrims and flags will surely help you get the look you want in your future creations.

For my portraits, I often work on location, working both outdoors or indoors with a temporary setup. I sometimes don’t have a lot of space, not many options for backdrops and backgrounds so I have to compose with what I have.

And this is when these kits can become useful. I have now the ability to have a little bit more control over my light, giving me more freedom.

I wanted to use parts of the textures in the bushes, and the plants in the garden. The light was already a problem but thanks to the black solid flags I was able to block it in specific areas and make my scene work.

Here is what we had to work with :

The 2 solid black flags are blocking the light giving us an even exposure. I then added the One stop silk to diffuse my light. For this 2nd example we build upon this initial setup. Same background but slightly different angle. I wanted to get rid of the dappled light, so again we used both Black solid flags to block it.

Once the flags were in place, we had an even exposure again.

You can see a bit of light coming from behind. It is highlighting her hair, her back, but I felt we could add a touch of that light on the right side of the image, on her left cheek. So I added the 2 stop silk screen but instead of diffusing the light with it, I used it as a white bounce.

On the left (1st image) there is no white bounce:

It was almost 11 oclock, the sun was high, and hitting hard. Without any accessories, this is the type of light you’d get.

I want it to be softer, and most importantly I wanted to balance my image so that we could actually see the colours of the tree behind her. For this one I added a 2 stop silk for the face placed high up because of the angle of the sun, and a black flag to block some of the dappled light at the bottom half of the image.

Finally, I added another solid black on the other side as a negative fill, to suck out a bit of light and to give me some shadows on the face for more depth.

All three versions side by side:

Now lets go inside and see what we can do in a home studio setup

One thing I always struggle to do is photographing white clothes with light skin people. Usually the face is exposed correctly, but the shirt, or white outfit is slightly overexposed. One way to correct this though is by using a net. Single or double it’s up to you. Use the open side of the flag for a smooth transition.