Invisible Softbox Long Exposure Photography Trick

If you want to start shooting product photography but don’t yet have the right gear, all is not lost. This trick allows you to get a softbox effect for around $20. Leo Rosas demonstrates:

You’ll need a single LED light—a common tube light that you can find at any home improvement store.

The technique involves using a slow shutter speed in combination with a slow scanning movement of the light across the subject as the shot is being made. Think about a bulb moving across a document in a copy machine when scanning.

invisible softbox

Light Painting with a Tube Light

This slow movement along with the slow shutter speed creates the illusion of a softbox. You’re using the technique of light painting, except you have a much bigger light to play with. It’s pretty simple, and the result is pretty convincing, as well.

make an invisible softbox

Softbox Trick

Rosas took advantage of white walls that reflected the key light and a table on which the product was placed. He set the camera up on a tripod (to ensure that there is no image blur).

‘Scanning’ require somes practice. Initially, you might feel like a Jedi practicing your moves with a light saber. You have to be careful so as not to stray within the frame. As you get more experience you’ll also be able to control the final effect.

Experiment with different angles and different products, and combine your efforts with some accessories or modifiers.

softbox hack

Diffuser

DIY Softbox Hack

Light Painted Product Shot

You can photograph both small and large subjects with this technique, provided you know how to handle the ‘softbox’ and are prepared to experiment and be patient with it.

Rosas however does not completely discount the use of proper gear. If you’re a serious, career-oriented photographer, you should probably be investing in proper gear. Consider this a fun alternative.

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