Whether it's ambient light or light we provide, light is always available
for photography. Controlling that light to give the exposure level, quality,
and mood we desire is the goal of every photographer. And tools that allow us
to achieve that goal in the simplest, easiest, most cost-effective manner are
the ones that last in the marketplace. That explains why the Scrim Jim light
control system from The F.J. Westcott Company has been popular with still and
video photographers for more than 10 years.
Four basic screen sizes make up the Scrim Jim system. Each of
these sizes takes a wide variety of diffusion scrims, reflective
fabrics, Chroma-Key fabrics, nets, and egg-crates.
The Scrim Jim system is an extensive line of light control material designed
around four basic frame sizes. The frames are made from lightweight aircraft
aluminum with a rectangular cross section. And the design is modular. The Small
42x42" frame expands to the Medium 42x72" size with the addition
of a 30" extension along one side. The Medium frame expands to the Large
72x72" size by adding 30" extensions to the shorter sides. And the
Large becomes the X-Large frame with the addition of 30" extensions on
all four sides.
Each frame piece is covered on one face with touch-fastener hooks. The touch-fastener
loops tape sewn into the perimeter of the fabric provides a secure, fairly taut
fit when the fabric is carefully stretched and attached to the frame. Fabric
choice is the real value of a system like this and the Scrim Jim has a wide
range of fabrics available. They fall into five classes: diffusion scrims, reflective,
digital, nets, and egg-crate.
Model car shot in the studio with a 1/4-stop silk stretched on
a Large Scrim Jim frame above the car and the silver side of a
silver/white reflector mounted on a Medium Scrim Jim as fill.
The light source was a Nikon SB-800 flash mounted above the silk
and triggered with an Elinchrom Skyport radio slave. Exposure
was f/8 at ISO 100.
All Photos © 2007, Stan Sholik, All Rights Reserved
There are four diffusion fabrics. The least diffuse is the 1/4-stop silk, followed
by the 3/4-stop, 1-stop, and 11/4-stop rip stock nylon. I tested the 1/4-stop
silk on a Large frame and it lowered the exposure almost exactly 1¼4
stop with an insignificant change in color temperature. The diffusion fabrics
are available for all frame sizes.
There are also four types of reflective fabrics, each one reversible with different
fabrics on each side. The sunlight/silver fabric is not available in the X-Large
size, while the silver/white, gold/white, and flat black are available in all
sizes. For digital photographers, a reversible Chroma-Key with blue on one side
and green on the other is available for the 72x72" screen only. Nets are
used more often by videographers than still photographers to soften and darken
the background behind interview subjects, to cut light intensity and to darken