Simple Lighting Techniques - Part 5

So far in this series of shots I’ve worked with the basic accessories that come with most lighting kits. For this next shot I wanted to use something different, so I went for the ‘Rolls Royce’ of portraiture accessories, the Bowens Sunlite, Supersoft 600 Diffuser, a combination of reflectors with an outstanding performance.

This must be one of the easiest things to use in a studio, you just put it onto a head, turn it on and wow what a fantastic light source. The Sunlite Supersoft gives the most wonderful light, soft even and a wide coverage too, what more can you ask for? It’s all in the design of the reflectors and diffusers that make them perform so well.

First you have the Sunlite reflector, a nice reflector in its own right, 17in diameter 40 degrees with a white painted interior. Using this by itself will give a very even light source, ideal for both product and portrait photography. It gives a very clean soft light due to the design of the reflector and its white interior that really makes it easy to use for so many applications.

Then comes the Supersoft 600 Diffuser, a ‘bolt on’ accessory for the Sunlite reflector. This 24in diameter extension fits on to the front of the Sunlite reflector with 3 simple screws, turning it into a large metal soft box. The Supersoft Diffuser is again painted white to match the Sunlite and has 2 separate diffusers, one on the inside and one on the front. The internal diffuser is made from Mylar, the same material used to diffuse the Bowens Wafer range. The Mylar diffuser is a really important part of this reflector. Made from a plastic material it has a series of holes, larger around the outside and smaller in the middle keeping the light source completely even. The outer diffuser is a ‘hoop’ covered with thin diffusion material that always reminds me of the things that dogs jump through in the circus! But here it really does the perfect job of softening the light.

When it’s all put together we have a large 24in diameter, double diffused reflector with a white painted interior. You can use this on any powered light from the Bowens 125 right up to the 1500 and you will get great results from them all.

For the shots below I just seated Sam on a low backed chair and asked her to make herself comfortable. She sat down sideways and looked at the camera, she looked great, very relaxed and natural, it really is easy working with a professional model.

I used a Bowen’s Esprit 500DX head for these shots and just placed the light at about 45 degrees to Sam and at a height where I could see the catch lights in her eyes. I took some close ups first using Chris’s 85mm 1.4 Nikon lens, wish I could afford one myself!! The only thing that I would say is that you have to be really careful when focusing.

As you can see in this close up of Sam, the lighting is really simple and shows the detail in the eye beautifully.

In this shot, I pulled back a little and just used a 30in Lastolite reflector, the silver side to bounce in some light on the hair and face.

The next shot with the Sunlite Supersoft was of Sam in the chair, I turned the light on the Esprit 500DX right down to minimum power and put a Gemini 250 with a Grid reflector onto a Manfrotto floor stand and pole behind Sam’s head, just out of sight. By adjusting the power of the Gemini, I managed to balance the light to give a nice halo effect on the background behind Sam’s head. As you can see it’s really soft and subtle.

This reflector would be a great investment for anyone who wants to take simple clean soft portraits and as I’ve already said it really is so easy to use. The price for the both the Sunlite & Supersof 600 Diffuser is around £275.00, it may seem a bit expensive, but if you consider the sheer quality and consistency of the results you get, I reckon it’s a bargain.

Good Luck


My thanks to Chris at ReeveBanks photography for his help and coffee making skills and to Sam Gooden-Wood for putting up with me for a day and also to Chris’s assistant Mark, for all his help.