Improve your outdoor lighting for less than $10.

If you have ever tried to shoot outdoors, you know that the sun’s pattern
of scattered light tends to cast deep shadows on subjects. The key to good
lighting outdoors is to even out the light that falls on the people you’re
videotaping. Reflectors can work well for this purpose, but they also condemn
your poor subjects to a lot of squinting when you’re shooting in bright
conditions. Diffusing the light works much better in these situations. Building
a device to soften or spread out the light source only requires a few cheap
materials, all of which you can find at a nursery or home improvement store.

First, measure and cut a square piece of mesh fabric slightly larger than
the size of the diffuser you’re creating. Leave enough extra material to
be drawn tight when everything is assembled. Next, sew a pocket along all
four edges of the mesh. Be sure to make a fold large enough for the 1/2-inch
PVC pipe to slide easily into. Remember that the ends of the pipe must stick
out of the pockets so you can attach the elbows in a later step, so measure
and cut accordingly.

When you’ve finished sewing the pockets, it’s time to start assembling.
Slip a piece of PVC, cut to length, into one of the newly constructed pockets
and attach an elbow to its exposed end. Repeat this process with the remaining
pipe and elbows until you’ve completed the square. Voila! Instant diffuser.

Because it needs to be large enough to screen your subject, I recommend
not going any smaller than the four-foot square we’ve created here. You
can disassemble the whole thing for easy portability or to switch to a different
diffuser material.
Once you’ve built the frame, you can try experimenting with a variety of
materials other than the black mesh. Try placing it in front of a harsh
fill light for diffusion in indoor productions as well.

Good luck and have fun!

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