It is incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult for a begin­ner to pho­to­graph in a stu­dio. Here it would be bet­ter to fig­ure out the cam­era set­tings, but then all of a sud­den you still need to cor­rect­ly set up and put the light on. And the admin­is­tra­tors climb with their “What do you want? Soft­box or por­trait? But light is indis­pens­able: by con­trol­ling light sources with pow­er, shap­ing noz­zles and posi­tion, we get a high-qual­i­ty pho­to.

What are the noz­zles, how do they dif­fer? When is it bet­ter to take a strip­box, and when is it bet­ter to take an umbrel­la? What is the best way to high­light the back­ground? We answer all these ques­tions and fig­ure out what acces­sories for stu­dio light­ing will help diver­si­fy your shots.


What are stu­dio light attach­ments?
beau­ty dish
Acces­sories for light mod­i­fiers
gobo masks
Col­or fil­ters
Tips and Con­clu­sions

What are studio light attachments?


This is the name of noz­zles that have lay­ers of dis­per­sion. As a rule, this is one or two lay­ers of white translu­cent fab­ric. Yes, soft­box­es are essen­tial­ly made of fab­ric on a shaped frame.


Types of softboxes

— Rec­tan­gu­lar and square soft­box­es. Time­less clas­sic. There are dif­fer­ent sizes. The larg­er the source, the soft­er the light.
— Octo­box. Octag­o­nal softs. These are often the largest stu­dio attach­ments. They are loved for the inter­est­ing shape of the glare in the eyes and the fact that they can be used to illu­mi­nate a large area.
— Strip­box. This is a long rec­tan­gle, but, unlike the clas­sic rec­tan­gu­lar soft­box, it is rather nar­row in width and elon­gat­ed in height.
— Round soft­box. Gives inter­est­ing round high­lights in the mod­el’s eyes.
— Out­door soft­box. Allows you to high­light the object from below.

Often among pho­tog­ra­phers and stu­dio employ­ees, soft­box­es are called square or rec­tan­gu­lar attach­ments, which con­fuse begin­ners who begin to con­sid­er octo­box­es and strip­box­es as a sep­a­rate type of light. In fact, they are all soft­box­es. Just a dif­fer­ent shape.

What to shoot with softboxes

  • For a clas­sic soft-light por­trait, a rec­tan­gu­lar or square soft­box is the way to go. The larg­er they are, the larg­er the area will be illu­mi­nat­ed and the soft­er the light will be.
  • Use the strip­box for a full-length por­trait or to empha­size the sil­hou­ette with back­light. A large rec­tan­gu­lar soft­box or octo­box is also suit­able for a full-length por­trait.
  • Strip­box allows you to get spec­tac­u­lar nar­row high­lights when shoot­ing objects. The main thing is that the sur­face of the object reflects light well (glass, plas­tic, glossy car body, etc.).
  • The Octo­box is ide­al for tak­ing pic­tures of mul­ti­ple peo­ple. It can be used to pho­to­graph a cou­ple in love, a fam­i­ly with chil­dren, a music band or a group busi­ness por­trait. Nat­u­ral­ly, the larg­er the octo­box, the more peo­ple it will illu­mi­nate.
  • Octo­box allows you not only to take a full-length pho­to of the mod­el, but also to light up the back­ground around it.
  • Any large soft­box is suit­able for shoot­ing large objects. For exam­ple, cars.
  • A round soft­box is good for por­traits as it gives neat round high­lights. They come in small sizes, so they are suit­able for on-cam­era flash­es, which is ide­al for reportage shoot­ing.
  • Floor soft­box allows you to high­light the object from below. Can be used for exper­i­men­tal por­traits with unusu­al light, prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, inte­ri­or light­ing.


Attach­ment that gives a soft, dif­fused light with light, accu­rate shad­ows. Some­times an umbrel­la spreads the light so much that it makes it nec­es­sary to increase the pow­er of the flash pulse.

Tak­en with an umbrel­la in the light / pixabay.com

There are two types:

— To the light. Most often it is an umbrel­la made of white fab­ric. When shoot­ing with such a noz­zle, we direct the light source at the mod­el or object, and the open umbrel­la obscures the lamp. It turns out that we shoot through an umbrel­la, because of which the light is scat­tered. The prin­ci­ple of oper­a­tion is the same as that of a soft­box.
— Reflec­tion. Reflec­tive umbrel­las are black, and their insides are gold, sil­ver, or white. When shoot­ing on a reflec­tion, we direct the light in the oppo­site direc­tion from the sub­ject. The flash bounces off the inside of the umbrel­la and illu­mi­nates the mod­el.

The col­or of the inner sur­face of the reflec­tive umbrel­las affects the col­or of the light. If you need warm light, then use a gold­en umbrel­la. For cold, sil­ver is suit­able. Neu­tral col­or tem­per­a­ture is cre­at­ed with a white umbrel­la. You can adjust the white bal­ance in post-pro­cess­ing.

To fix the umbrel­la on a tri­pod, you need a spe­cial mount that allows you to insert the “leg” of the dif­fuser there. Some attach­ments are sold with a hot shoe mount for on-cam­era flash­es. There are also mod­els with lamp sock­ets.

It is worth not­ing that one of the most bud­getary light mod­i­fiers. For exam­ple, an umbrel­la in the light can be bought for 350 rubles.

On the left are two umbrel­las in the light, on the right — a sil­ver reflec­tion umbrel­la / pixabay.com

What to shoot with umbrellas

  • Use an umbrel­la to cap­ture a gen­tle female por­trait with soft light.
  • Its light­ness allows you to quick­ly and eas­i­ly move the light source, so you can take pic­tures of active rest­less chil­dren with an umbrel­la.
  • Small umbrel­las weigh lit­tle and are cheap. They are often the first bud­get light shap­ing attach­ment that a begin­ner pho­tog­ra­ph­er can use on loca­tion. In addi­tion to an umbrel­la, you only need a tri­pod, an umbrel­la mount and a direct light source — even an on-cam­era flash will do.
  • Reflec­tive umbrel­las, espe­cial­ly large ones, cre­ate a wide and soft beam of light. This allows you to sim­u­late nat­ur­al light­ing in the stu­dio.

An umbrel­la is an ide­al attach­ment for a begin­ner, as it gives a neat black and white pat­tern. It is dif­fi­cult to spoil the por­trait with an umbrel­la — the shad­ows from it are quite light, with a smooth, sub­tle gra­di­ent turn­ing into mid­tones and high­lights. It is dif­fi­cult to get black holes instead of eyes from an umbrel­la, hard, sharply defined shad­ows near the nose.

beauty dish

It allows you to get light of medi­um hard­ness, since at first it “beats” into the met­al, and then it scat­ters over a white or sil­ver sur­face. On the one hand, this gives a soft light, but the shape and rel­a­tive­ly small size of the source make it direc­tion­al, which increas­es its con­trast.

What to shoot with a beauty dish

— Any por­traits. Adjust the height and posi­tion of the source to achieve dif­fer­ent effects and moods in the frame. For exam­ple, if you place a light with a beau­ty dish behind your mod­el and point the light down­ward, you get a dra­mat­ic por­trait with deep shad­ows.
— The beau­ty dish gives good con­trast, so it is often used for fash­ion shoots.
— The beau­ty plate is suit­able for beau­ty pho­to shoots with an empha­sis on the hair­style or make­up of the mod­el.


Noz­zle for hard light. Due to the shape and mate­r­i­al with a reflec­tive sur­face inside, it forms the light into a beam. Thus, it turns out to be direct­ed, that is, it shines strict­ly where you have shown. The anal­o­gy is sim­ple — imag­ine an actor on the stage, behind whom the beam of the spot­light “runs” with the help of the illu­mi­na­tor.


What to shoot with a reflector

— Reflec­tors give hard shad­ows on the face of the mod­el, show the tex­ture. This is ide­al for dra­mat­ic or dark por­traits. In addi­tion, it can be used to focus on the relief of the body or wrin­kles.
— Hard light, empha­siz­ing bru­tal­i­ty, good for male por­traits. Or for women, where it is impor­tant to con­vey a deci­sive char­ac­ter and a bright tem­pera­ment.
— To high­light the back­ground, use the back­ground reflec­tor. This is a tube with a diag­o­nal­ly cut edge, as it were. This shape is need­ed so that the light is direct­ed strict­ly in one direc­tion (on the back­ground) and does not fall on the mod­el and the lens.
— Use a reflec­tor to add back­light to the mod­el.


It is some­times called a cone reflec­tor. Hard light mod­i­fi­er. Noz­zle in the form of a cone, which forms a nar­row, direc­tion­al beam of light. The noz­zle is quite dif­fi­cult for a novice pho­tog­ra­ph­er and an inex­pe­ri­enced mod­el, since you need to under­stand well where the light beam hits and stay strict­ly in it.

The spot­light effect that can be achieved with a tube / pixabay.com

What to shoot with a tube

  • High­light a mean­ing­ful detail on an object or back­ground. The nar­row open­ing of the tube will not allow light to affect objects around.
  • Cre­ate a spot­light effect on the stage.
  • With the help of a tube, you can get an inter­est­ing por­trait with con­trast­ing light. But remem­ber that with its help it will not be pos­si­ble to qual­i­ta­tive­ly illu­mi­nate the mod­el in full growth.

Accessories for light modifiers


They direct the light, make it more accen­tu­at­ed. Increase the hard­ness of the light and nar­row the light beam.



— Hon­ey­combs on reflec­tors. They are a round met­al noz­zle that real­ly resem­bles a hon­ey­comb.
— Hon­ey­combs on soft­box­es. Fab­ric square grids. Usu­al­ly fas­tened with Vel­cro. They come in dif­fer­ent cell widths. The small­er the hon­ey­comb cell, the nar­row­er the beam of light at the out­put.

Why use honeycombs

— By direct­ing the light in a cer­tain way, you can illu­mi­nate only the mod­el, and leave the back­ground untouched.
— If you com­bine a beau­ty dish and a hon­ey­comb, you can get a spot­light effect.
— Put empha­sis on a par­tic­u­lar object or sub­ject.
— Make chiaroscuro on the mod­el’s face more con­trast.


Reflec­tor mod­i­fi­er. This is a noz­zle with four mov­able black bar­ri­ers. Putting them on a reflec­tor, you can con­trol the light flux and direct it.

Why use curtains

  • Adjust the width of the beam that illu­mi­nates the back­ground.
  • Man­age back­light more care­ful­ly.

gobo masks


Gobo masks are sten­cils through which light can be passed to cre­ate a light pat­tern on a mod­el or back­ground. They can project abstract pat­terns and mim­ic sun­light through win­dows or blinds. They are plas­tic, glass, met­al.

There is a spe­cial noz­zle for gobo masks. Its design is unusu­al in that in the mid­dle there is a lens and a lever that allows you to adjust the width of the beam of light, and at the end there is anoth­er lens and a lever that focus­es the light so that the pic­ture is clear­er. A sim­pler alter­na­tive is a met­al hold­er.

But to shoot through a sten­cil, it is not nec­es­sary to use a gobo attach­ment — any hard light source that can be attached to a plate with a pat­tern will do. In addi­tion, you your­self can cre­ate a sten­cil of any shape and use it in shoot­ing.

Color filters

Translu­cent gel sheets (some­times plas­tic sheets) that change the col­or of the light. They are sold either in the form of square or rec­tan­gu­lar sheets that can be fixed to the light source with adhe­sive tape, or in the form of iron plates that are mount­ed on reflec­tors.

Why color filters are needed:

  • Point the col­or fil­ter reflec­tor at the back­ground to change its col­or.
  • Illu­mi­nate the back of the mod­el with a reflec­tor with a fil­ter to get a col­ored back.
  • Col­or the back­ground, mod­el, cre­ate col­ored spots with the help of a tube to which the fil­ter is attached.

Tips and Conclusions

  • Soft light is pro­vid­ed by soft­box­es, hard light by reflec­tors, and medi­um light by a beau­ty dish.
  • The small­er the light source, the hard­er and more con­trast­ing the light.
  • The clos­er the source is to the mod­el, the soft­er the light.
  • Use col­or fil­ters to col­orize the back­ground, mod­el, make col­or checks or spots.
  • Hon­ey­combs and cur­tains allow you to lim­it the lumi­nous flux, make it more direc­tion­al. In this way, you can make the light hard­er, as well as put empha­sis on the details. For exam­ple, to high­light an ele­ment of decor that is impor­tant for the plot.
  • Do not change the attach­ments your­self — ask the stu­dio admin­is­tra­tor. In the event of a break­down, you will have to pay for a dam­aged source, the price of which can exceed tens of thou­sands of rubles.
  • Shoot with one light source to begin with and try dif­fer­ent attach­ments to see the dif­fer­ence. Start with a soft light — it’s eas­i­er, as there is less chance of get­ting ugly hard shad­ows and high­light­ing imper­fec­tions in the mod­el’s skin. The sim­plest attach­ments for a begin­ner are an umbrel­la or clas­sic square or rec­tan­gu­lar soft­box­es.
  • Project any pat­tern onto your mod­el or back­ground with gobo masks, or make your own sten­cils.
  • The tube and the beau­ty dish, due to the nar­row beam of light, give a high cut-off con­trast on the mod­el. You can get some inter­est­ing light with them, but you need to con­trol exact­ly where it falls and where the mod­el is. The eas­i­est way to do this is to turn on the pilot light at the source — this is a con­stant light that shows where the flash will “hit”.