I need to shoot some objects on a table (the surface area is not bigger than 16x20 inches) and they need to look like they are illuminated by a big window. I'm thinking of getting a few big soft boxes, but then i realized that light coming in from a window does not come in as diffused as a softbox is. Should i look at keno flows or some other lighting system ? Any tips would be great.
The quality of light coming through a window depends on which way the window is facing, where that hypothetical window is located the world (Paris FR and New York, NY have very different light from Paris, TX and Rio De Janeiro, BR), the time of day and the weather conditions. Rather than look at different light sources think about different ways of modifying the light. A good scrim ( a piece of translucent material generally stretched on a frame is a very useful and relatively inexpensive light modifier. I prefer the Chimera frame system for this not only because of the quality and variety of scrim materials and frame construction but also because they set up quickly and easily and equally easily tear down and pack up compactly. There are a range of sizes in the Chimera system from 24x24 inches to 72 x 72 inches and 42 x 82 inches. Link: http://www.chimeralighting.com/Products/Panel-Frames-Window-Patterns/Panel-Frames-Fabrics
The beauty of using a largish scrim is that you can put either a hard or already diffused (light in an umbrella or softbox) light behind them; use them with either a single or multiple small or large light sources; vary the position and angle of the light behind the scrim; or put a "go-bo" between the light source(s) and the scrim to tune the shape of the highlight and shadow edge definition.
For instance: what painter's refer to as "north light" is a large even source that brings outthe contours and shape of the subjects. One quick way to do that is to combine a 48 x 48 inch or larger scrim with a softbox. You set up the scrim so it is either vertical or leaning over the rear or side edges of the set and behind that put the softbox on a boom so it's diffusing surface is facing
downwards but near the top edge of the scrim . As you move the softbox closer to or further away from the scrim the quality of the light will change , and also you can trying lowering the position of the softbox so it is only illuminating a smaller part of the scrim and through the scrim the subject. Playing with the relative angles of the softbox's front to the scrim also changes the way the light falls off across the depth or width of the set. Using an umbrella instead of a softbox changes the quality of light as well. If you want a harder light skip the softbox.
The drawbacks to using a scrim (whether factory or hand made ( 5/8" diameter PVC pipe and frosted shower curtain and good materials to play with) are:
- when set up takes up space
- you genrally need a pair of light stands, preferably topped with MSE or Avenger D200 grip heads, to support the scrim.
But even a Chimera frame and panel set, two extra light stands and two grip heads are a lot less expensive than a good sized Kinoflo bank is.