Soft­box is a light dif­fuser that makes it soft­er. The design itself is a noz­zle, a body that is put on a light source (for exam­ple, a flash on a stand). This mod­i­fi­er is often used in por­trait, sub­ject shoot­ing in the stu­dio. This arti­cle explained what a soft­box is, what it is for and how to use it. And if you are won­der­ing how to choose the right mod­el, a spe­cial arti­cle from the blog will help you.

With this noz­zle, you can get soft light. Pho­to: oehling.cz

What is a soft­box
Types of light mod­i­fiers
By type of attach­ment
by col­or
To size
By shape
Why you need a soft­box when shoot­ing
How to use soft­box
Com­par­i­son with oth­er mod­i­fiers
pho­to umbrel­la
beau­ty dish
Stan­dard reflec­tor
How to make your own soft­box at home

What is a softbox

This is a spe­cial mod­i­fi­er. With it, you can get dif­fused light instead of bright and sharp, which is usu­al­ly giv­en by a light­ing device. The design con­sists of:

  • rigid frame (met­al or plas­tic);
  • fab­ric dome (poly­ester or nylon), which is stretched over the frame. The out­er part is black, the inner sur­face is light, reflect­ing light;
  • remov­able exter­nal dif­fuser.

The prin­ci­ple of oper­a­tion is sim­ple:

  • the mod­i­fi­er is put on the light source;
  • the beam is reflect­ed from the walls inside the hous­ing;
  • the light is dif­fused through the translu­cent fab­ric of the remov­able out­er dif­fuser.

The result­ing light resem­bles nat­ur­al light. That is why pho­tog­ra­phers love it so much.

The design of the soft­box is very sim­ple. Pho­to: stedis.cz

Types of light modifiers

Today, com­pa­nies (Ray­lab, Ando­er, Nice­fo­to, Fal­con Eyes and oth­ers) pro­duce dif­fer­ent types of soft­box­es. They are divid­ed into main cat­e­gories.

By type of attachment

The mod­i­fi­er is attached to:

- the flash itself. For exam­ple, there are spe­cial soft­box­es for on-cam­era flash­es. They are often includ­ed in a mobile set for loca­tion pho­tog­ra­phy. Such mod­i­fiers are attached with Vel­cro or spe­cial adapters;

– on a rack for stu­dio light.

by color

Umbrel­las, reflec­tors and oth­er sur­face mod­i­fiers can have dif­fer­ent col­ors. For what? So that you can get the desired (soft­er, warm, cold) light. In the case of a soft­box, there are 2 options:

- white - allows you to keep the col­ors nat­ur­al, does not dis­tort them, illu­mi­nates with a soft beam of dif­fused light;

- sil­ver — Adds con­trast to col­ors.

To size

What are the sizes of soft­box­es:

- small (for exam­ple: 20x30, 30x40, 40x40 cm) — need­ed for sub­ject pho­tog­ra­phy of small things (acces­sories), when work­ing with ani­mals;

- medi­um (for exam­ple: 60x60, 60x90 cm) — for a por­trait, sub­ject pho­tog­ra­phy of clothes;

- large (for exam­ple: 80x120, 120x120, 30x140 cm) — for a full-length por­trait, fash­ion shoot­ing, etc. Large struc­tures are best placed in spa­cious stu­dios. Why? To be able to place it at a com­fort­able dis­tance from the mod­el. If you put a huge octo­box 140 cm in diam­e­ter in a room of 9 sq.m, it will sim­ply blind the mod­el, and there will be a strong over­ex­po­sure in the pho­to.

The larg­er the mod­i­fi­er, the soft­er, wider, more dif­fused the beam of light will be. And the larg­er area can be illu­mi­nat­ed.

It is impor­tant to choose the right mod­i­fi­er in shape and size in order to real­ize the idea. Pho­to: behance.net

By shape

Rec­tan­gle — the most com­mon and ver­sa­tile option. Pop­u­lar sizes: 60x90, 60x80, 75x150, 80x100 cm. Need­ed for por­traits, any ver­ti­cal com­po­si­tions.

Square - a good solu­tion for small stu­dios (there is a choice of mod­els up to 60 cm. For exam­ple: 40x40, 45x45 cm). Most often used for sub­ject pho­tog­ra­phy. Not the best solu­tion when work­ing with ver­ti­cal, tall com­po­si­tions. For them, it is bet­ter to choose a rec­tan­gu­lar option.

Octo­box (mod­i­fi­er with 8 cor­ners) — need­ed for fash­ion, por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy. Where you need to make a beau­ti­ful high­light in the eyes of the mod­el and illu­mi­nate the entire fig­ure as nat­u­ral­ly as pos­si­ble. Sizes: from 90 cm to 2 m in diam­e­ter.

strip­box - nar­row and long. Need­ed to frame an object, com­po­si­tion. For exam­ple, if you need to high­light and light­en the mod­el’s hair on the side. Great for sub­ject pho­tog­ra­phy of elon­gat­ed objects, when it is impor­tant to empha­size their fea­tures. For exam­ple, when shoot­ing drinks, bot­tles, vas­es.

Soft­box­es of dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes. Pho­to: glstudio.com.ua

Why you need a softbox when shooting

In pho­to schemes, it most often plays the role of a fill light source. With it, you can:

  • add vol­ume (the por­trait will not be flat, the shad­ows will be nat­ur­al);
  • make dark areas lighter and more detailed;
  • form a shad­ow­less, uni­form illu­mi­na­tion of the object.

Why do we need hon­ey­comb on soft­box? This is a spe­cial noz­zle made of fab­ric. With its help, you can nar­row the size of the light spot and make it eas­i­er to con­trol the light flux. With them, the light will be a lit­tle less soft.

How to use softbox

Such a mod­i­fi­er can be used as the sole light source or in com­bi­na­tion with oth­ers. How to get a beau­ti­ful light spot:

- it is bet­ter to put the mod­i­fi­er in front of the mod­el, and not on the side (unless oth­er­wise pro­vid­ed by the scheme with many light sources). Oth­er­wise, the light will fall into the ear and facial fea­tures will be dis­tort­ed;

- for the gen­er­al plan, it is bet­ter to move the mod­i­fi­er away from the mod­el and raise the rack high­er. In this case, it is bet­ter to direct the main beam of light not at the face of the mod­el, but at the waist. The result will be a beau­ti­ful shad­ow, there will be no strong light on the face.

Don’t place the soft­box too high or too far from the sub­ject (unless absolute­ly nec­es­sary). Oth­er­wise, there will be insuf­fi­cient con­trast, the image will appear flat. Also, the back­ground will be lit with the same inten­si­ty as the mod­el. And this will make the pic­ture unnat­ur­al and unat­trac­tive.

Comparison with other modifiers

photo umbrella

Dif­fused light can be obtained using both mod­i­fiers. But the two streams are still dif­fer­ent. The umbrel­la is soft­er and more del­i­cate. But soft­box light is more ver­sa­tile and eas­i­er to con­trol. An umbrel­la is more often cho­sen:

  • begin­ners — to under­stand what mod­i­fiers are, try not the most dif­fi­cult to man­age;
  • those who like to work with schemes con­sist­ing of many mod­i­fiers, where you can include an umbrel­la.

In oth­er cas­es (for exam­ple, when work­ing with 1–2 light sources), it is bet­ter to take a soft­box.

A pho­to umbrel­la is anoth­er light mod­i­fi­er used by pho­tog­ra­phers. Pho­to: copelandpark.com

beauty dish

It, unlike the soft­box, is designed specif­i­cal­ly for por­traits. The spe­cial struc­ture (described in detail in anoth­er arti­cle) allows you to scat­ter light in such a way as to empha­size the struc­ture of the skin.

There­fore, a beau­ty dish is used for shoot­ing make­up, mod­el por­traits. With it do not remove objects, ani­mals. To do this, you need a soft­box that does not empha­size the struc­ture of objects, but com­plete­ly illu­mi­nates them.

Beau­ty dish is an uncom­mon mod­i­fi­er that is need­ed to cre­ate beau­ti­ful por­traits. Pho­to: profoto.com

Standard reflector

Its main pur­pose is the oppo­site of a soft­box. With such a reflec­tor, you can make a hard bright light accent. As a result, clear and deep shad­ows appear on the por­trait. Soft­box is designed to cre­ate soft light and shad­ows.

How to make your own softbox at home

When is a home­made mod­i­fi­er use­ful?

  • If you didn’t have the nec­es­sary pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment at hand, you need to shoot now.
  • When you want to try to shoot with a mod­i­fi­er, but you want to save mon­ey even more.

There are many ways to make a soft­box with your own hands at home. There are com­plex instruc­tions that require ply­wood, ties, met­al slats, etc. Today we will talk about the sim­plest option. You will need:

  • thick card­board (not for chil­dren’s crafts, it is bet­ter to cut the box of equip­ment into pieces);
  • scotch;
  • foil;
  • glue;
  • paper;
  • black paint.

Step 1. Make the sides of the struc­ture out of card­board. If you are mak­ing a square mod­el, the tri­an­gu­lar sides should be the same. If rec­tan­gu­lar, the side ones should be longer.

Impor­tant: at the top of each side you need to make addi­tion­al fas­ten­ers. This will be a mini-box where you need to insert the flash. The pho­to below shows which mounts we are talk­ing about.

At the top of each tri­an­gle, you need to add a square or rec­tan­gle for fas­ten­ing. The exact shape and size depends on the size and shape of the entire struc­ture. Pho­to: tsdyuntt.rf.

Step 2 From the inside you need to glue the foil. You can do this with ordi­nary glue.

Step 3 Glu­ing. It is nec­es­sary to col­lect all sides of the struc­ture and glue them on the out­side. This can be done with adhe­sive tape or mount­ing tape. It is impor­tant that the struc­ture is not flim­sy, and its parts are firm­ly con­nect­ed.

Impor­tant: what about fas­ten­ers? It depends on how the home­made soft­box will be used. If you want to mount it on a stand, you need a tri­pod adapter. For exam­ple, an L‑bracket made of alu­minum. It can either be plant­ed on liq­uid nails, or screwed to the mid­dle of the small side of the struc­ture.

Among the assis­tants is there some­one who is ready to sup­port the out­break with box­ing? Then it is enough to insert an elas­tic band, Vel­cro into the struc­ture itself (to fix the flash). And the assis­tant will sup­port the design itself.

Exam­ples of dif­fer­ent fas­ten­ers. Pho­to: tsdyuntt.rf.

Step 4 Paint the exte­ri­or with black paint.

The assem­bly of the struc­ture is sim­ple. But it can be made even eas­i­er — ask an assis­tant to hold the walls while you glue them. So it will be eas­i­er to con­nect them exact­ly the first time. Pho­to: tsdyuntt.rf.

Step 5 Dif­fuser pan­el instal­la­tion. A roll of white paper should be placed on the floor. Place a box on top of it. The edges of the paper need to be cut and fold­ed so that they slight­ly cov­er the out­side of the soft­box. Now it is con­ve­nient to glue a sheet of paper to the body.

Home­made soft­box is ready! It is impor­tant to check its strength, sta­bil­i­ty and only then install the flash. Because it will be sad to dam­age the equip­ment because of the exper­i­ment.


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