Homemade Soft Boxes

Blog Forums Photography Homemade Soft Boxes

This topic contains 17 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Brett Colvin Brett Colvin Oct 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm.

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  • #75177

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    So in addition to my buoy project, I also have a homemade softbox project going on. We had talked some time ago about how these are absolutely necessary to achieve the right look with product shots where you’re trying to blow out the background, which I want to be able to do.

    The boxes themselves are $100+ to buy, which just seems exorbitant for something little more complicated than an umbrella. Since ultimately the goal is just to get a sheet of white fabric in a light-tight box in front of the speedlight, I decided to make my own out of foamcore.

    These are 18″ square on the end. I’ve got the diagram for how I am going to mount them; just need to buy some aluminum from Home Depot and mount them up, then I plan to stretch white silk fabric across the front using gaffer’s tape. I’ll also paint the interiors white once the hardware is mounted for maximum reflectivity and the correct color temperature.

    #75181
    Brett Colvin
    Brett Colvin
    Member

    Nice job man I’m sure those will do the deed. For a number of years I shot catalog stuff with cardboard frames and vellum paper as diffusion material. All you need to do is effectively make the light source big and soft for the types of images that have recently been discussed.

    Eventually I went to a commercial solution – not because it affected light quality but mostly for versatility and time savings so I could get work done instead of fabricating modifiers as needed. As one example, it’s super handy to be able to slap a grid onto a soft box or switch to a snoot in just a few seconds because the modifiers all use the same attachment system. Kind of the same deal with barn doors and so forth.

    All of it can be done DIY and you can’t tell the difference in the imagery. The value add is really speed with the associated time savings which can then be converted to higher productivity in the studio.

    In this recent example, I was using a gridded softbox camera right and a snoot with barn doors and supplemental flags camera left to manage reflections in the sapphire crystal watch face. Setups like that used to take me forever to fiddle around with and get right where now it’s just plug and play.

    Oris Aquis Date 43mm

    #75182

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Very interesting, Bret, and very professionally handled. I was reading a “tutorial” the other day when looking into ideas for making my boxes, and I noticed that I could see all of dude’s equipment reflected in the shiny surfaces of the gear he was shooting. Not very pro.

    I appreciate the needs of a true professional to be efficient. In my case I am more trying to fully understand this than anything else; I shot one catalog for Nautilus reels about 5 years ago and was very dissatisfied with the results. Since that time this kind of setup has become much more common (probably because of eBay) and there seem to be a lot more resources online describing how to achieve the effects I was going for. Not to mention the excellent help I’ve gotten here on the board.

    Thanks again,

    Zach

    #75183

    Nice Zach. One thing I personally challenged myself to do early on is to stick to using 1 modifier for a set period of time. The goal to learn everything I can about the light modifier before moving on to something else. Each modifier has strengths and different aspects in how it can be applied. Having a great understanding of how a modifier can be used and its limits has helped me tremendously before moving on to the next one.

    I started with a 60in Brella. I spent 6 months shooting with it in so many different ways. I learned a ton.

    The difference in any image is light or the lack of it.

    Have fun with your project.

    PS. Colvin, “Dude Put That Away”! I know how you roll! 😉

    Some examples of a 60 Brella from sometime ago:

    Behind The Scenes

    Model Kamilla Rhodes, MUA Jade Warren

    Softbox:

    Elizabeth

    Amy Rucker Gonzalez

    Tilly - Pin Up

    Hope you enjoyed the last example 😉 Post your pics Zach. Good stuff.

    #75184
    Brett Colvin
    Brett Colvin
    Member

    I appreciate the needs of a true professional to be efficient. In my case I am more trying to fully understand this than anything else;

    I think you are completely taking the right approach. There are myriad products out there, and I learned my needs by going the DIY route. As the demands on my time increased and I wanted a more cohesive system, I knew exactly what to buy because I knew what my needs were.

    The commercial stuff pays for itself but only at the stage where you can recover the costs and get a return. Your setup looks a lot more well thought-out and versatile than my early attempts.

    It’s a fun journey because of the learning process. You’ll get something like fly reels figured out, and then one day you’ll get asked to shoot waders, or vests, or packs. Then it’s, “Damn I need to triple the size of my sweep and get a boom in here…

    Oh, and reflection management with shiny things really and truly steamed my olives for a time. I probably could have been diagnosed with a form of studio-specific Tourette’s Syndrome during my initial forays into polished surfaces.

    Looking forward to seeing your finished setup and results Zach.

    Jay – that shoot you did with Kamilla outdoors on the water is a favorite (2nd image). Taking the gear into the field whether it’s for product or portraiture and balancing ambient light is yet another adventure.

    #75186

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    These worked very well. I just need to find my fabric and some flat black gaffer’s tape to finish them up. (I am still going to paint the insides white).

    #75193
    Roy Conley
    Roy Conley
    Member

    I was reading a “tutorial” the other day when looking into ideas for making my boxes, and I noticed that I could see all of dude’s equipment reflected in the shiny surfaces of the gear he was shooting. Not very pro.
    Thanks again,

    Zach

    If you look closely into the eyes of many models you will see the equipment being used for the shot. The catch light in her/his eyes is of course a flash. You will have fun shooting shiny stuff.

    #75195

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    All done!

    #75197

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Arright so this is kind of fruity, I know, but I only had myself to use as a model. I was pretty happy.

    I’m looking forward to doing a product spread soon.

    Zach

    Attachments:
    #75199

    The boxes look great Zach, but stop ignoring your dog..lol

    www.dsaphoto.com

    A picture is thousand words that takes less than a second while a thousand words is a picture that takes a month.

    #75200

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    If I could get her to sit that still when I am paying attention to her I would have used her for a model instead of me!

    #75201

    The boxes look great Zach! Nice work. Those are going to work great. You will fall in love with soft-boxing.

    The only issue with the DIY is that they don’t break down. When you decide to do it in the field, the convenience of that option will come into play.

    #75205

    Very nice DIY Zach. These would work well at home but not so much on location as JM mentioned above. Just a thought- Most good professional strobe heads have flash tubes that stick out (to spread the light around 36o degrees and ‘fill’ the soft box), therefore I would suggest pushing your strobes into the box a little more & using the plastic ‘dome’ on your flash units to mimic this effect, giving you a softer light overall.

    Hope this helps.

    Douglas
    http://www.nowpicturethis.com

    #75207

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    That is helpful, Douglas – I wondered about that. My flashes are Nikon SB-600s — they have a fresnel-type screen that can be dropped down to spread the light to 14mm (at least that is what the body says). I take it it would be a good idea to use this screen?

    Zach

    #75208
    #75235

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Got my basil pesto put up. Also got to use my softboxes! I overdid the salt a hair (but thankfully just a hair) so if I can just remember not to salt the pasta I use this with I ought to be ok.

    Zach

    #75573

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    I’ve been putting my softboxes to good use (and also my table). I joke with my editor friend Katie that I have assembled a Garden & Gun Starter Kit…

    #75574
    Brett Colvin
    Brett Colvin
    Member

    Looking good man (the food and the lighting).

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