A softbox is a commonly used tool that helps in diffusing light from a small source. It takes light from a flash and then virtually converts it into a larger and softer light source by bouncing the light on to a big, white translucent surface. Light coming out of a softbox wraps the subject in and fills in a lot of shadows. One small issue that can arise while using a softbox is that the light can spill in directions where you don’t want it. David Bergman from Adorama explains how you can have more control over light coming off of a softbox using a grid:
A grid is a simple tool that can be easily placed in front of a softbox using velcro. It looks something like an egg crate, and it prevents the light from going sideways, directing it all forward and reducing any light spill. Since the direction of light is severely limited while using a grid, the light fall off is quicker. This means that the flash may illuminate the subject’s face properly while the lower portions of the body and the background can get darker pretty quickly.
A grid allows you more control over where and how you want to illuminate the subject and can be used creatively for backgrounds, as well. Bergman uses a red gel on another flash to give a completely different look to the background, since the grid prevents any light from spilling onto the background.
“Remember, photography is all about learning the qualities of light and how to control it. Use grids to narrow the beam of your softbox and make your images look exactly how you want.”
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