So much for so little
Light diffusion panels cost very little when you make them yourself, and to do so is very simple. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked about diffusion panels and where I am getting them from. The ones I use in my studio have all been custom-made to fit my needs, and I’ll show you just how to make your own one below.
Diy Diffusion Panels Procedure
Firstly, you will require a frame or border that encases the paper or cloth. My frames are made from thin iron rods. I designed them and had the local metalsmith create the frames based on this for me. I’m making the design available as a downloadable PDF here. I highly encourage you to download the PDF and take it to a local business or craftsman in your area to fix together. Alternatively, if you are really big into DIY and own a welder, you could purchase the dimensions of steel rods and make it yourself. I paid very little for the gentleman to create the frames for me.
Use the right tool and materials
Then I put this diffusion material onto the frame. Some photographers have mentioned they use a Translum from Savage. There are several well-recognised products available on the market, some are even very pricey. Personally, I have made use of smooth tracing paper, the type used for tracing by architects or designers. It is available at most craft shops or art studios. A large roll provides a good few meters of paper and allows for you to have additional stock should the diffusion panel need repairing. Your local paper supplier should be able to assist with picking out the right quantity based on the dimensions of the frame.
How to fasten paper to the frame
To fasten the paper onto the frame I have used a combination of duct tape and clamps. There is no right or wrong method in attaching the two together. Again, feel free to experiment with what works for you. For example, one brand of duct tape peeled off after a couple of days and another is still holding after four months.
So it’s really just a paper on top of the iron frame that is used to make the diffusion panel. What works best when attaching the panel to a C-stand would be a special bracket clamp (see the video for visuals). This will make the system work well without anything falling apart with constant movement.
Affordable and effective solution
This is a budget, yet effective, DIY panel diffuser that can have a big effect on your lighting and quality of production. They are light-weight and easily replaceable. The versatility of the item in my studio environment makes adjustments and break down easy.
What are diffusion panels in still life photography?
Diffusion plates are used in still life photography to soften and diffuse light, reduce harsh shadows, and create more even illumination. They are usually made of a translucent material that diffuses light rays, such as tracing paper or translum.
What materials and tools do I need to make my own diffusion panels?
To make your own diffusion panels, you will need a frame or border for the paper or fabric, a translucent material such as tracing paper or translum, tape and staples. You can download a PDF design for the frame or make it yourself with thin iron rods or steel.
Where can I get the materials for making diffusion panels?
You can get tracing paper or translum at most craft stores or art studios. Your local paper supplier should be able to help you choose the right amount based on the dimensions of the frame. For the frame, you can take the downloadable PDF design to a local shop or craftsman to assemble it, or make it yourself if you have a welder.
How do I attach the paper to the frame?
You can use a combination of tape and staples to attach the paper to the frame. There is no right or wrong way to attach the two together. A special staple works best when you attach the board to a C-stand to prevent anything from falling apart with constant movement.