On the subject of shaping and modifying your gentle, there are such a lot of choices accessible it may be laborious to remain in a single place for lengthy. At first, you’ll use the fundamentals comparable to a softbox or an umbrella. However as you get snug with noticing the tiny variations in gentle, you’ll rapidly graduate to extra specialised modifiers. Magnificence dishes, reflectors (the sort that matches to a strobe), octaboxes and striplights all do fantastic issues to your gentle. And you may simply get caught up within the methods these and different modifiers can be utilized.


Regardless of all these choices, I really feel the fundamentals can generally be neglected. Have you ever ever stopped to suppose why the common-or-garden softbox has turn out to be so common? Little doubt there are lots of solutions to that query, however an vital one is that it really works – and works effectively.

To be clear, I’m speaking concerning the primary rectangular photographic softbox round 3′ x 4′. Not too massive, and never too small. (Popup softboxes have their place, however we’re not speaking about them on this article.) With the correct methods, these workhorses of the photographic studio can provide you stunning, gentle gentle that fits nearly any topic you’ll be able to consider.


You in all probability already know the fundamentals of how a softbox works. However for the sake of posterity, let’s undergo it once more.

A softbox is mounted on the entrance of the strobe to form and extra evenly distribute the sunshine. They’re usually fitted with silvery materials on the within to assist bounce the sunshine round and guarantee it spreads evenly via the diffusion materials on the entrance. This diffusion materials successfully turns into your gentle supply. As a result of your gentle supply is now a lot greater than the naked strobe, the standard of sunshine modifications from laborious to gentle (therefore the identify ‘softbox’).

Manipulating the standard of the sunshine offers you way more flattering gentle for nearly any topic, particularly portraits.

By no means Forgotten

For these causes a substantial amount of photographers begin their digicam lighting with a softbox. They’re low-cost, simple to seek out and use, and supply glorious outcomes. However as their abilities improve, and new and extra sophisticated methods open up, it may be laborious to withstand the attract of fancy, area of interest modifiers.

For just a few years I used nothing however a magnificence dish. Even now I are likely to favor massive octaboxes for portraits. However on this article I wish to present you that simply since you’ve moved on to different issues doesn’t imply it is best to neglect the fundamentals. As I mentioned, there’s a motive the softbox has turn out to be so common.


Listed here are a number of examples of what you’ll be able to obtain with a easy 3′ x 4′ softbox that price round $35.

Be aware: As you’ll see within the annotations, for a few of these photographs a 5-in-1 reflector ($15) was additionally used.


On this instance, the softbox is immediately in entrance of and offset barely from the topic. This leads to a lighting sample referred to as ‘loop lighting’. As a result of the sunshine supply is so shut, the ensuing gentle gentle is good for portraits.


Just like the earlier instance, the softbox for this picture is admittedly near the topic. However this time, it’s positioned at 45 levels and barely above. Have a look at the catchlights in his eyes, and you may see precisely how shut the sunshine supply is. Once more, the sunshine right here is admittedly gentle, and you may see this high quality within the easy tonal transitions from the spotlight areas to the shadow areas.


This setup is sort of the identical because the earlier setup, besides the softbox is barely additional away and there’s a white reflector at digicam proper.

Inserting the sunshine additional away reduces the pace of the sunshine falloff, which on this case signifies that the shadows don’t dominate as rapidly as within the earlier instance. The reflector additionally helps with this.


Medium-sized softboxes are effectively suited to clamshell-styled setups. Merely place your softbox immediately in entrance of and above your topic, pointed down at 45 levels. Then place a reflector beneath and pointed upwards at 45 levels. (And not using a reflector this might be referred to as ‘butterfly lighting’.)


Softboxes can be utilized to nice dramatic impact when used as aspect lighting. Deep shadows and gentle highlights can actually add loads of depth to your photos.


The earlier examples all had the softbox in shut for the softest attainable gentle. You too can pull your gentle supply again to utilize more durable gentle to good impact. However pay shut consideration to the clearer transitions between the shadow and spotlight areas.

The Finish

I’m not telling you to restrict your self to a softbox. By all means, exit and use and discover each modifier you will get your fingers on. Simply do not forget that as you’re planning your lighting for any given scenario, generally the benefit and ease of the fundamentals would possibly provide the outcomes you want.


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