Experimental measurements of optical limiting of nanosecond laser pulses by two distinctly different polymer and carbon nanostructure composite materials dispersed in solution is reported here. The polymer poly(para-phenylenevinylene-co-2,5-dioctyloxy-meta-phenylenevinylene) was used to form exclusive multi walled carbon nanotube and polymer composites. The polymer poly(9,9-di-n-octylfluorenyl-2,7-diyl) was used to form composites consisting of multi walled carbon nanotubes, other clearly defined carbon nanoparticles and polymer. The fabrication technique and material characterization steps are described, where it was found that the carbon nanostructures were stably dispersed in the polymer matrix in both cases. A range of each of these composites was prepared and varied according to carbon nanostructure mass content. The optical limiting experiments were performed using an open aperture Z-scan apparatus with 6 ns gaussian pulses at 532 nm from a frequency doubled Q-switched Nd:Yag laser. In the poly(para-phenylenevinylene-co-2,5-dioctyloxy-meta-phenylenevinylene) and exclusive multi walled carbon nanotube composite either the multi walled carbon nanotubes or the polymer dominates the nonlinear response depending on the relative mass of polymer to nanotube. In the other material saturation of the optical limiting was reached at carbon nanostructure mass percentages in excess of 3.8%, relative to the polymer mass, while the polymer exhibited no response of its own. Furthermore, the scattering of high intensity light from the materials was qualitatively probed and its angular dependence investigated. The nature of the carbon nanostructure inclusions in each material was found to significantly influence the scattering response of the composites.