Softboxes are one of the strobist’s (photographer that prefers artificial light) best friends. They also help shape the light in a way that creates dynamic portraits that would otherwise fall flat. Aaron Nace at Phlearn has come up with a great tutorial on the basics of softboxes, using a traditional three light set up as an example.
Guide to Softboxes: Phlearn
Softoxes are great for manipulating artifitial light. You can make it soft or hard, and pretty much everywhere in between with a number of modifiers, like grids and diffusion panels. Softboxes are unlike umbrellas, which produce a concentrated directional light that tends to cast everywhere. Softboxes imitate the light cast by windows and create gorgeous catch lights in the subject’s eyes. Because softboxes diffuse strobe lighting, it is a great option for portraits.
Example Image and 3 Light Set-up
Shapes & Sizes
Traditional Softbox: These are the workhorses of studio lighting, and can be used for just about anything, from key lights to fill lights.
Stripbox: This is a skinny rectangular softbox. Its narrow shape makes it good for casting rim/hair lights on subjects without affecting other parts of the image. Set in a box shape in front of the subject for creative catchlights.
Octobox: A softbox with 8 sides. Its rounded shape will cast natural looking catchlights in the eyes of your subject. Usually used as a key light.
Grids: Use these to manipulate the way light is emitted from a softbox. They help by concentrating the light into a straight beam, where you want it.
Until Next Time . . .
Stay Inspired ~ Jules
Thanks you PHLearn for the great tutorial.