The veil ef­fect

NPhoto - - Niko Pedia -

Translu­cent screens, whether de­signed as such or just hap­haz­ardly work­ing that way, are among the most def­i­nite vis­ual lay­ers. These let light through, but not a clear view of what’s be­yond, and there are de­grees of translu­cency. The kind of fab­ric that cov­ers a soft­box for a stu­dio light isn’t much use, but some­thing more open, such as a thin cloth or con­den­sa­tion on a win­dow (or even a pat­tern of rain­drops), has more pos­si­bil­i­ties. The dis­tances be­tween cam­era and screen, and be­tween screen and sub­ject, also af­fect how much de­tail you can see.

The two key con­trols, how­ever, are the aper­ture (for depth of field) and where you fo­cus. There’s no hard and fast rule for this, but it’s worth think­ing about whether the screen or the dis­tance will read well when out of fo­cus. In the photo be­low, the del­i­cate screen didn’t read at all well when blurred, but keep­ing it sharp en­abled the sit­ting cou­ple and the scene be­yond them to be un­der­stand­able, while also adding tex­ture.

The Suzhou Mu­seum de­signed by ar­chi­tect IM Pei, shot through a screened win­dow in a pavilion

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