Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography Softboxes? Reply To: Softboxes?


Flat light may not be interesting, but if your model has bad skin, it can do a lot to hide blemishes.  If you can combine it with one of the “standard” lighting schemes — long, short, split, butterfly… etc. — so much the better.

For those of you not familiar with reflectors, some are just reflectors, but the 5-in-1 variety usually have four reflective sides on a cover and a centre piece that is a scrim, or loosely woven fabric that lets light through it.  It makes a good diffusion panel and can be used outdoors to create open shade.  If you have that sort of reflector, you can replace the 85W/300W bulb shown in EvilDayStar’s setup shot, with a flash, the sun, or even a lamp from Home Depot.  Canon and Nikon both make flash units you can control with light from another flash, sometimes from the one built into your camera.  You notice in the setup shot, the studio’s room lighting is off.

Instead of using the softboxes to light the background, you can use them to light your subject and use a remote flash to light the background.  An advantage to that arrangement is you can put coloured gels over the flash to change a white background to the colour of the gel, and by varying the flash power you can change the shade.  Instead of a flash, you could use another continuous light source for this.

By positioning the softboxes, you can modify their effective strengths, so you could have the one on the left quite close to your subject and the one on the right further away, which would give stronger light from the closer softbox, causing shadows.  Instead of pointing the softboxes right at your subject, point them so most of the light goes past your subject, then you are just using a little light from the edge to light your subject.  A cool thing about continuous light is you can see the effect before you take the photo.  Softboxes don’t bleed light everywhere like umbrellas so you have more control.

The square/rectangular softboxes are supposed to mimic window lighting,  so you could put them both together horizontally or vertically to get a bigger “window”, or separate them to be like two windows in a wall.

You can use softboxes many ways, experiment until you get the look you desire.