The Scrim Jim: Like a Swiss Army Knife

When talking about different lighting modifiers I like to point out the basic features and benefits of each. Equally important though, is the outside of the box thinking that allows us to apply these tools differently to fit each scene. After all there is no wrong way to shape light. The Scrim Jim, from Westcott,  is just one such particular tool that I always have with me when shooting outdoors.

The Scrim Jim is billed as a “collapsible diffusion and reflection system.” I liken it to a Swiss Army Knife, with its various covers and endless possible uses. The Scrim Jim size alone can be adjusted from 42″x42″ all the way up to a massive 96″x96″. After that you choose from a variety of fabrics and nets that can be attached to reflect, absorb, or knock down light to different degrees. The most obvious use for the Scrim Jim would then be to either soften or reflect light onto the front of our model. Here’s an example where the Scrim Jim came to my aid by doing neither.

We started with a very straight forward shot of our model Raylin, that I had the pleasure of working with this past summer. We found a great wide open field to shoot in and like clock work the Florida weather offered up a beautiful sunset. I placed Raylin with her back to the sun and lit her with a single strobe and a beauty dish. Like I said, very simple and straight forward.

Shooting through the Scrim Jim

That Florida sun is extremely bright though, even on its way out the door for the day. You’ll notice how blown out the sky is. At the same time all of these high plants (weeds?) were casting some really neat long shadows. Now just how do we show that in the image? We had a 72″x72″ Scrim Jim already setup, with a 3/4 Stop Diffusion fabric on it, from an earlier shot. Rather than place the Scrim Jim between the strobe and our model, like we would if we wanted to soften the light, I placed it behind our model to act as a background. Here is the result. Same settings, just added the Scrim Jim in the back.

Using the Scrim Jim as a Backdrop

Now because our impromptu background is a sheer fabric, designed to let some light through, we retain that beautiful backlit lighting. We also now see some of those shadows cast by the sun and the surrounding grass. It looks like we commissioned a painted background just for this shoot! Here is a pullback shot of the entire setup. With a different approach to using a familiar tool we were able to very quickly walk away with two different images, one very much my own. That’s one of the joys of photography, being able to capture the beauty around you, while adding your own personal touch. Happy Shooting!

The Scrim Jim Made To Look Like a Custom-Painted Backdrop

Westcott Lighting Gear Mentioned

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