Soft Boxes

Soft boxes are an essential part of any studio set up, yet to many of us, who don’t frequent the studio environment, it may seem they are simple to set up and use. However, this is not the case and in this series of three videos from Jay P Morgan, we learn the basics and intricacies of setting up soft boxes in a real studio setting.

In this first video Jay shows us the effect of different sizes of soft boxes.

Some of the lessons we learn from this video include:

  • The area of coverage between a small soft box and a large soft box is basically the same.
  • The difference is the quality of the light and how it wraps around a subject.
  • A large soft box will wrap nicely around the subject and produce a soft, diffused shadow on the background.
  • A small soft box will create a harder more defined shadow.
  • The use of a grid on a soft box reduces the coverage area and makes the light more controllable.

The second video demonstrates soft boxes in practice for a commercial shoot.

Some of the details we learn from this include:

  • It is important to choose the right soft box for the subject.
  • A large soft box will light both sides of the model at once, filling in any shadows
  • The small soft box is idea for key lighting as it creates shadows but cannot fill them.
  • The same principles apply for rim lighting, if you want a soft diffused rim light then a large soft box is the best option, if you prefer a hard, well defined rim light, choose the small soft box.
  • To light the green screen background Jay uses two large soft boxes with green gels giving a soft even light over the entire background.

The third and final video shows us how to light a bottle with soft boxes.

The key lessons from this video are:

  • Use a black background, the black reflects into the edges of the bottle.
  • Use a black piece of wood as a stand for the bottle. This eliminates the risk of shadows and reflections.
  • The background light is a medium strip soft box, by maneuvering this closer or further away, you can make the black strip along the bottle larger or smaller. It also creates a nice soft glow inside the bottle.
  • The key light is a medium strip box turned horizontally creating a nice highlight on the bottle.
  • The fill light is a small strip box, creating a rim light to the left as well as lighting the neck of the bottle.
  • Lastly a large reflecting card is placed to the left, to add some reflection to the bottle’s label.
  • To create that just out of the fridge look, a 50/50 mixture of glycerin and water is sprayed over the bottle.

soft box

So, there you have it, the humble soft box practically and comprehensively explained.

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One response to “Soft Boxes”

  1. Those of us who have done studio work for years will tell you that sof-boxes are only a part of the story. I use parabolic reflectors with barn doors and spun glass over the surface of the reflector. It gives a huge amount of control that a sof box cannot. While very useful Sof Boxes are not the most controllable tool in a lighting toolbox.

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