BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a light diffuser for use with light sources in photography and other applications. Diffused or indirect lighting is used in both still and motion picture type of photography or for achieving other visual effects. As an example, indirect and/or diffused lighting provides a “soft” illumination of a subject, and can be provided by means of directing light through one or more diffusers or by indirect reflection. Generally, such indirect and/or diffused lighting are produced by light sources remote from the camera or the like.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Based upon he foregoing, there have been attempts at providing an enclosure for a light source to provide indirect diffused lighting. Such enclosures have been referred to as “soft boxes” or “glamour boxes”, referring to the diffused lighting produced thereby. The enclosures have been designed in a manner such as shown in FIG. 1, wherein a light source 10 is mounted on a tripod 12 for use. A soft box 14 is mounted in association with the light source 10 to provide an enclosure in conjunction with a diffusing panel 16 mounted in spaced apart relationship to the light source 10 in the enclosure 14. Although such a device may provide suitable lighting features, various deficiencies make its use cumbersome. In known devices, a fabric covering 18 must be manually assembled into its operative position using a plurality of ribs 20 mounted to a support plate (not shown). The multiplicity of parts and labor associated with construction of the enclosure 14 has made it difficult for use. It thus would be desirable to provide a “soft box” or light enclosure which is more easily used and handled.
Based upon the foregoing, it is an object of the invention to provide a light source enclosure which is compact, self-contained and easy to position and use in association with a light source.
It is a further object of the invention to provide a light enclosure which allows lighting characteristics to be modified according to desired applications in a simplified manner.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In an embodiment of the invention, the light enclosure comprises a base adapted to be coupled to a light source for use. A frame structure is coupled to extend radially away from the base and includes cross frame members coupled to a slide member. A frame support member extends outwardly from the base and has a support rod associated therewith. The slide member is selectively engaged with the support rod to operatively position the frame structure. A flexible cover is positioned on the frame structure to define an enclosure for conditioning of light emitted by the light source. Other aspects and advantages of the invention will become apparent upon a reading of the following disclosure in conjunction with the drawings.
FIG. 1 is a prior art soft box shown in its operative position.
FIG. 2 is a light enclosure according to an embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 3 is an alternate embodiment of the light enclosure according to the invention.
FIG. 4 shows a light enclosure according to the invention in a collapsed position ready for transport.
FIG. 5 is a somewhat schematic representation of the embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 2.
FIG. 6 is a view into the enclosure as shown in FIG. 5.
FIG. 7 is a plan view of a base according to an embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the base as shown in FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is a side view of a frame support member according to an embodiment of the invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIGS. 10a-10 e represent alternate embodiments of a light source engaging member according to the invention.
Referring to FIG. 2, the light enclosure 30 according to the invention may be mounted in association with a light source 10 and tripod in a similar manner to that shown in FIG. 1. Alternatively, the light source 10 and light enclosure 30 may be hung from a ceiling mounting apparatus or any other suitable configuration as desired. One or more diffusing panels 32 may be positioned in opposing relationship to the light source to diffuse light exiting the enclosure 30 through its open end. More than one diffusing panel may be used to provide the desired light conditioning. The enclosure can also be used as a large reflector when used without a diffuser panel. The large reflector provides a sifter, broader light than that typically provided by smaller prior art devices. Although the embodiment of FIG. 2 reflects a square enclosure configuration, other enclosure configurations are contemplated, such as shown in FIG. 3, representing an octagonal configuration, or other configurations such as rectangular or the like. In each of the embodiments according to the invention, the light enclosure 30 is preferably designed to be collapsible such as that shown in FIG. 4.
With reference to FIGS. 5 and 6, the light enclosure 30 in an embodiment comprises a base generally designated 34, which supports a frame structure, including frame members 36 and cross frame members 38. Each of the frame members 36 and 38 may comprise dual ribs to provide reinforcement and desired structural integrity. On the outer frame members 36, a fabric covering 40 is provided, of a material similar to that of an umbrella or the like. The outer fabric 40 is taught over the frame 36 when in the open configuration, providing easier handling of the enclosure 30. On the interior of the fabric material 40, a light reflective and/or colored material may be provided, which may be of any desired configuration to produce desired light reflective or conditioning characteristics. In its open configuration, the frame members 36 extend radially away from the base 34, such that when in an extended position, they will retain the fabric covering 40 in an open configuration as shown in FIG. 5. The cross frame members 38 are coupled to respective outer frame members 36 and a slide member 42. The slide member 42 is adapted to engage a support rod 46 associated with a frame support member 44. The frame support member 44 extends outwardly from the base 34 to engage cross frame members in spaced apart relation to the base 34. In this manner, the frame support member 44 creates a space between the base 34 and cross frame members 38 which is adapted to accept the light source coupled to the base 34 while supporting the cross frame members 38 in the operative position.
The frame members 36 are pivotably secured to the base 34, and are connected to the fabric covering 40 at their distal end. The cross frame members 38 are pivotably connected to the outer frame members 36 and slide member 42, such that the entire assembly can be collapsed to a position such as shown in FIG. 4. In the operative position, the slide member 42 is engaged on the support rod 46, as for example in a manner similar to an umbrella, by means of a stop member 48. The cross frame members 38 in this position will fully extend the frame members 36 to the open position in conjunction with the fabric covering 40 to define a substantially parabolically shaped structure. When in the open configuration, the enclosure 30 is self-supporting and rigid. As previously mentioned, different frame structures can result in different configurations of the enclosure, while still providing a collapsible frame as desired.
The fabric covering 40 may include a light reflective material, such as aluminum foil, gold foil, colored fabric, black or white fabric or the like, disposed on the interior surface 50 of the fabric covering, over at least a portion thereof. Alternatively, the fabric covering 40 may be constructed of the desired reflective and/or colored material if desired. There may also be provided hook and loop fasteners 52, or other suitable fasteners, disposed at locations around the interior surface 50, for securing a light diffusing member 32 across at least a portion of its open end, such as in the position shown in FIG. 5. The light diffusing member 32 may be a translucent material to condition light passing therethrough, or may be of a colored material as desired. Additional light diffusing members 32 may be provided at different locations within the enclosure 30, such as shown at fastening tabs 52 positioned intermediate the outer location of diffuser 32 as shown in the figure, or at any other desired location, such as for example in association with the frame support member and/or frame structure. Further, modifying the amount and direction of diffusion for a particular situation or environment, wherein modifying the reflective characteristics of the internal surface 50 or of the diffuser 32 may provide the proper lighting effect. It should be recognized that upon mounting of the base 34 in association with a light source, light emitted from a light source will be reflected and emitted through the diffuser 32 in the desired manner. As previously mentioned, the enclosure 30 can also be used without a diffuser as a large reflector. However regardless of whether used as a diffuser or a reflector, the enclosure 30 will prevent direct light from going right out of the enclosure 30. As an integral unit, the enclosure 30 is easily collapsed for transport and storage, while providing easy mounting to a light source and opening to the position as shown in FIG. 5 for use.
As seen in FIGS. 7 and 8, the base 34 may be constructed as a plate member 54. To allow proper operation of the frame structure, the base plate 54 is preferably round in configuration, which provides balanced construction and load distribution in the frame structure. The plate 54 may have an outer flange 56, which is tapered away from the plane of the plate as shown in FIG. 8. The first end of the frame members 36 are secured in position adjacent the outer flange 56 as shown in FIG. 8. The plate 54 further has a hole 58 through the center for accommodating a light source in conjunction with a mounting system, such as a mounting plate as will be described hereinafter. In the embodiment shown, to accommodate a mounting plate, the base plate 54 includes a recessed mounting flange 60 adjacent the hole 58 to receive a mounting plate (not shown). Returning to FIG. 5, a mounting plate 70 is shown in its operative position relative to the base plate 54. Fasteners 72 may be used to selectively secure the mounting plate 70 within the recessed mounting flange 60, and may be of any suitable type. As merely an example, fastener 72 may extend in overlapping relationship relative to the recessed flange 60, such that upon positioning of the mounting plate 70, the fasteners will retain plate 70 in the proper position upon tightening. As also seen in FIG. 7, the frame members 36 may be secured by suitable frame fasteners 74. The base plate 54 may also include frame support member mounting holes 76 for mounting of the support member 44 thereto as shown in FIG. 5. It should also be recognized that other fastening or connection systems may be used or structures may be integrated with one as desired.
In FIG. 9, the frame support member 44 is shown to include support rod 46 having a retractable stop member 48 associated therewith. The distal end 78 of support rod 46 is preferably tapered to accommodate positioning the slide member 42 thereover as previously described. The support rod 46 is provided on a hub 80, to which are connected at least three leg members 82. The leg members 82 form a spider-like assembly which positions the hub member 80 in spaced apart relationship to the base 34 on which the frame support 44 is mounted or made integral with. The hub 80 is also disposed along the center line of the apparatus extending through the center of hole 58 in mounting plate 54 as an example. The hub 80 and support rod 46 provide selective connection to the slide member 42 associated with the frame assembly along this axis. The positioning of hub 80 provides for proper operation of the frame assembly when slide member 42 is disposed on the support rod 46 in its locked position against hub 80 by means of cross frame members 38 forcing outer frame members 36 into the desired shape. The spider-like configuration of the frame support member 44 also accommodates positioning of the light source through hole 58 in base plate 54 into its operative position within the formed enclosure. The at least three leg members 82 are configured to provide a secure support for hub member 80 in a balanced configuration to avoid possible twisting of the frame assembly when mounted in association therewith. As shown in this embodiment, three leg members 82 may be configured to have first portions 84 which extend radially in the plane of hub 80, at approximately 60° angular spacing. The leg members 82 then have second portions 86 extending substantially orthogonally to first portions 84 to provide the spaced apart positioning of hub 80 relative to the base plate 54. The frame support 44 may alternatively be configured to be integral with the base 34 in a suitable manner if desired, and other suitable leg configurations are contemplated.
As the light enclosure according to the invention may be used with a variety of light sources, it is desirable to provide simple and effective mounting configurations for various types of lights, which are easily selected for use with the enclosure 30. A separate mounting plate 70 as previously mentioned may thus be used to afford selection of various mounting plates for particular types of lights. A variety of mounting plates 70 which may be suitable for particular types of lights are shown in FIGS. 10a-10 e, each providing quick connection to a particular light, and being easily positioned in association with base plate 54 within the mounting recess portion 60 of plate 54 as previously described. As seen in FIG. 10, several embodiments of mounting plates 70 may comprise an outwardly extending flange portion 90 adapted to engage a portion of a light source for mounting. Alternatively, mounting tabs 92 may be provided for selective support in association with a portion of a light source. Each of the embodiments indicate an aperture 94 through plate 70 to introduce the light into the enclosure 30, but such aperture may be of any desired configuration for accommodating a particular light source.
Having described embodiments of the invention in detail, it should be understood that various modifications and substitutions are contemplated, and can be made according to the invention without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as claimed.