Whether you’re filming a scene, taking a photograph or simply sitting in your garden, sunlight can be your best friend — or your worst enemy.
Create a Dappled Light Effect Using a Camo Netting Shade Structure
While most of us enjoy a bit of sunshine, too much of it can be a bad thing. Filmmakers, photographers, and landscape gardeners solve this problem by creating shade structures using a structural mesh net that partially allows sunlight through.
This light effect mimics sunlight through tree foliage. By only allowing some sunlight through, it creates a dappled light effect. Gardeners can use it for aesthetics and photographers and cinematographers for visual impact. One of the best ways to artificially create a dappled light effect is to use camo netting.
If you’re looking to use dappled light in your next project, we’re here to help. We’ve put together this complete walkthrough of creating a camo netting shade structure to get the perfect lighting.
What Is a Dappled Light Effect?
As we’ve already covered, dappled light mimics sunlight through tree foliage. It’s small patches of light that filter through objects to create areas of light and shadow. Generally, dappled light can be challenging to work with because the contrasting light can make shots challenging to expose properly — often, images are too dark or too light.
But when it’s used correctly, dappled light can create a powerful visual effect. Due to the contrast of light and shadow, you can illuminate your subject while creating a dramatic background. While it’s most commonly used for photography and film sets, it’s also a popular painting technique. Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent and Isaac Levitan used the effect in many of their paintings.
In the world of film and TV, the contrast of light and shadow is called chiaroscuro, and it stems back nearly 100 years to German expressionist films like Metropolis and Nosferatu. Since then, it’s been used in thousands of movies to create drama and tension including, Citizen Kane, The Godfather and Sin City.
What Is Camo Netting?
Camo Netting is a camouflage structural mesh net. Militaries worldwide have been using standard camo netting for over a century to protect and disguise soldiers and equipment. But the uses of camo netting stretch well beyond the military. It’s used for outdoor activities like bird watching, hunting and camping and in a range of different industries, such as:
- Theme parks
- TV and film studios
- Interior and landscape design
- Music festivals and events
While many of these industries use camo nets traditionally to hide and disguise equipment, many also use them to provide shade cover and sun protection. The durability of military reinforced netting means that it’s perfect for creating an outdoor privacy screen or garden pergola.
How to Create a Dappled Light Effect with a Camo Net
Step 1: Measure the area
You can choose to build a shade structure for dappled light both in indoor and outdoor spaces. Regardless of where you decide to set up, you’ll need to measure the area. It’s essential to do this carefully and always double-check your measurements before moving on to the next step.
Once you’ve measured the area, you’ll need to find the best way to create the structure. There’s no one way to build a dappled light structure; you can use wood or metal poles for the frame. Whatever material you use for the frame, you should ensure secure attachment points for the entire net structure. For this, you can use stainless steel rings or paracord loops on the outer edges of the camouflage net.
You’ll also need to choose the shape of your Camouflage Net. Most camo netting comes in a rectangular shape; however, custom sizes and triangular nets are available.
Step 2: Assess the natural light
While the netting structure will provide shade cover, you don’t want to cut out all light. If the frame is outside, assess how much sunlight the area receives and the angle of the light at different points in the day.
If you’re building the shade structure as a garden improvement, you want it to be effective at all times of the day for protection against UV light. But if you’re using the camouflage net for visual effect, you’ll need to work out at what times of the day it is most effective.
One way around relying on the sun for good lighting — always a good idea in the UK — is to use artificial light. This is usually better indoors and on sets as it gives you complete control of lighting and shading and allows you to get the perfect shot.
Step 3: Choose a Camo Net colour
If you’re using camo netting for a visual effect in a film or photograph, the colour of the net will hardly be a priority. But if you are building a shade structure for an outdoor space as an aesthetic feature, the colour will be an important choice.
Most camouflage nets have 80-90% leaf coverage and are durable for outdoor use, so you can take your pick of colours. You can decide to go for a classic woodland, desert or arctic camouflage or go for less conventional camouflage colours, such as:
If you’re unsure about which colour is suitable for your garden, it’s a good idea to order samples of different camouflage nets. This will allow you to see your other options and see if they have the desired light effect.
Step 4: Check any health and safety requirements
If you are creating a shade structure in a professional environment, you’ll need to check any health and safety requirements before starting to put your camouflage netting into place. On film sets and photoshoots with artificial light, there will be strict fire safety regulations in place. When choosing your camouflage netting, you’ll need to ensure that you select certified fire retardent netting to meet the requirements.
If you create an outdoor shade structure for shade, there will be fewer requirements for health and safety. But one big concern will be durability. As you’ll be using camo netting outdoors, it will be battered by wind, rain and sunshine throughout the year. To counter this exposure to the elements, you’ll need to ensure that the camo netting you choose is durable, reinforced, and both rot and mould-resistant.
Step 5: Put your camouflage nets in place
Now that you’ve got everything in place, you can start to build your shade structure. How you make your structure will change depending on whether you’re using it for a lighting effect or as a permanent sunscreen.
If you’re building a temporary shade, we’d recommend using poles to make it — much like a tent. This is a quick, lightweight and easy way to construct a shade structure, and it means that you’ll be able to rebuild it later for other projects.
For a garden pergola or sunscreen, we recommend using wood treated for outdoor use. Using ordinary wood will mean that the structure will quickly deteriorate in lousy weather and rot. Even with treatment, keep an eye on the wood over time and apply further treatments to keep your shade structure in good condition.
Why Use Camo Netting for Your Shade Structure?
While we’d highly recommend camouflage netting for your shade structure, plenty of other options are available. So why choose camo netting? Here are just a few of the reasons that camo nets are a popular choice for shade covers and privacy screens:
- Environmentally friendly
- Fire retardant
If you’re not quite sure that camouflage netting is quite right for your project, why not order yourself a sample? That way, you can test to see if it’s a suitable material and see the quality at the same time.
Camonets is the UK’s best supplier of camouflage netting and accessories. Explore our range of camo nets today and find the perfect net for your next project. Get worldwide delivery from £4.49.