Getting that soft wrap-around light.


Getting that soft wrap-around light.

It is the most romantic and gentle light, the soft wrap-around light. It is also the most forgiving for a woman. Wrinkles, lines and the like barely show up. This soft light has a low contrast so it removes the shadows inside of the lines.

It is easy to create. Essentially, the r the wall of light, the closer the subject is to the light, the more it wraps and the softer it is. In the natural light world consider a very overcast day. The cloud cover is one huge wall of light, very soft and diffused.


To create this soft light you can use natural sources, like a large window with sheer curtain, or a north facing window. In the studio, very large soft boxes, or a scrim with a covering like ripstop nylon work well. These are what I mostly use. Although the original light source, the flash or the sun is a tiny harsh light when the light hits the large fabric surface that becomes the new light source. The light spreads out from this source in a large wall of light.

Placement of the subject and light will vary the results. Place your subject at the back end of the light diffuser relative to the camera. This creates a larger area in the front for the wrap-around effect.


Place your light towards the front area of the scrim. The further back the original light source from the scrim, the more even and softer, the light will become. Some photographers use a silver umbrella to create a larger light source before it even hits the scrim.

The closer the subject is to the scrim surface the softer the light hitting them is. The wrap around effect is increased too.

Be careful about the purity of the scrim you are using. Any coloration of the material will alter the color balance. Usually this happens on the warm side but it can become unpredictable. One way around this is to use a custom white balance in camera to correct it.

Soft wrap-around light is an amazing glamour tool. It always flatters and subject placement is not as critical as more directional lights. Have a great time experimenting with it.


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