How To Control Light

Introduction to Textiles by Grant Atkinson from Rocket Film Equipment

Using Flags to Control Shadow and Light

Shaping Light with Flags

A few words about Muslin

Muslin is quite a unique material
No #1. we usually get wide width, so no seams , this is only really relevant when you use it for reflective photography. ie. car boat. shiny surface,
let’s take a car
to light a car with beautiful lines – following the shape of the car, the muslin needs to be rigged above the car, extend beyond the front and back so all surfaces are reflected into the muslin.
lights are bounced into the muslin. or many lights above light thew muslin to glow.
The effect is to follow a highlight / line of the object.
No #2. unbleached muslin, this is excellent for cosmetic and portrait lighting, it is a skin tone and has very little shadow. essentially a source less light, it is also ideal for low light and candle, cave dark space lighting
I love to use it with HMI (Daylight ) lamps at night as an ambient light source
I have done quite a few movies where the actor / actress has deep set eyes, or a large nose that cause definite nose shadow.
I will often wrap a kino tube or led tube with muslin, sometimes 2 layers and hold / set near the camera this relieves the shadow areas and softens the face and features.
As a reflective source it is very soft as it does not have a shiny surface. so reflects a soft ambience. often. 12 x 12. 12x 20. for day ‘s exterior. It softens reflective edges and surfaces.

I personally would have bleached and unbleached floppys in my kit. as it can be used to bounce as an overhead light source.

Many LED light sources have a hard edge to them and create a glow or sheen on skin tones and sensitive surfaces in say a costume or a textured surface. say in food ./ beverage photography the muslin is a superior tool.
Many young gaffers / Dp.s. do not understand these techniques

Next – Day light blue – daylight grey muslin
Night time blue. night time grey muslin

To add to the muslin fray, the above are used to put into sets/ backgrounds, hwere you would shoot off into the back of a frame.
ie in a set in a studio. window / door. for example. it has a more realistic look if the above is in the deep background as oppose to just a white shoot off.
The lens depth of field is so great now, this detail makes a big difference to making a shot realistic.
It was used in hollywood in the 1940’s when film stock was so low, very big light sources were required, as a consequence the above muslins were used in the same fashion.
Now we have low light levels and very sharp lenses. so we have the same issue.

Grant Atkinson