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Book Lights in Tight Spaces

Working on location can be a challenge - especially when you want big soft sources for your key!

Book lights are usually my go-to, but they take up a lot of room. Ideally you have two frames: one to bounce the light, and the other to diffuse it. Both frames spaced appropriately so the light can spread to fill the frame and create the wrap and soft characteristics we’re striving for. But once you consider the tools required to control that big source, things can start to get very unruly in a small space.

My book light workaround for smaller location shoots uses one frame with the ultrabounce skinned and the diffusion just tied to the top of the frame and left to dangle. I call it “The Dangle™️” (grips I work with are beginning to catch on 😉)

While it has a smaller footprint, there are definitely some drawbacks. Getting the proper beam angle of the light to pass through the diffusion to the subject can take some work. I wouldn’t recommend it for every situation but it’s passable for most.

Here we used The Dangle™️ with a 600d as the key source, traded 1/2 a stop of light to further soften with a 4x4 frame of Opal 🤌 Used a double net to knock 1 stop off the desk. Another 600 with 1/4 straw through the window for some sun action, LiteMat Plus 2L for a little edge, and 6x6 ultrabounce to lift the shadows in the background. And lots of haze.

Tyler Kaschke is a freelance gaffer with a grip truck based in Lafayette, Colorado serving Boulder, Denver, Golden, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and the Rocky Mountain region at large.


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