Diffusion – whether at the source of light or at the lens via a filter, is a way of reducing the concentration of the light.
The earliest methods of doing this often involved putting vaseline or women’s stockings over the lens. (Please do not try putting vaseline on our lenses, or your lenses – or anybody’s lenses. Just don’t put vaseline on lenses full stop.)
The effect was to soften the image and create a halation (that halo around light sources that you catch in photographs) that meant the faces of the actors seemed almost to glow.
Think of Lauren Bacall or Louise Brooks, scorching a smouldering hole through the celluloid as an example, their faces are luminescent.
These days there are a stunning array of diffusion options available in a decidedly non sticky form.
Diffusion filters still serve the same purposes – smoothing complexions, lifting contrast and adding glamour to a scene. With such an array of different option to choose from, it may be difficult to know where to start but Tiffen’s ‘triangle of diffusion’ is a great, visual guide to working out which type of filters will meet your specific combination of requirements.
White halation diffusion will reduce contrast with shadows but keep the shot sharp.
Black halation will reduce sharpness and is perfect for ironing out blemishes and hard lines.
Warm Halation gives a sunny glow that makes the shot look lustrous and warm but without loss of sharpness.
Optical Resolution diffusion will reduce contrast in the entirety of the shot but the effect is subtle and it smooths lines without noticeable fogginess.
Black Resolution diffusion softens the shot with a a hazy effect but without losing focus, resulting in a beautiful, clear image that is nonetheless softened appealingly.
Warm resolution diffusion adds a golden, summer glow which also gives perfect skin tones.
Resolution and contrast diffusion will dial down the contrast. It will cause a slight washing out of the colour but it won’t diminish the sharpness of the image.
And finally atmosphere filters soften the frame by fogging elements while maintaining the sharpness in the key elements, producing an atmospheric and perhaps almost spooky effect.
In the next post, we’ll take a more detailed look at the different kinds of white halation filters available. But you can make an enquiry and view our range of diffusion filters here.
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