How to Use Soft Box Lighting


A soft box is a box that is used to conceal a flash head, or lamp, allowing the light to pass through a translucent front panel in order to diffuse or soften it. They are commonly used in portrait photography, but can also be used in macro photography -- photographing images close up or in detail. There are a number of important factors, such as size, distance, angle and height, that can affect the light the soft box casts over the subject.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft box
  • Reflector (Optional)
  • Purchase a soft box that is larger than the subject you want to light. This is important as it allows the light to fall evenly across the subject. Soft boxes can be found in relatively small sizes, or they can be as wide as 2 meters; generally the larger the soft box, the softer the light it produces.

  • Move the soft box closer or further away from the subject to change the harshness of the light. The closer it is to the subject, the harsher the light. The further away it is, the higher the quality of diffused light.

  • Adjust the angle of the soft box to remove or create shadows. If a soft box is placed to the side of a subject then this will create a shadow on the other side. To solve this problem you could either use a second soft box or you could use a reflector, which a simple reflective surface, to soften or remove shadows. By experimenting with different angles you can create different light effects.

  • Lower or raise the soft box to further manipulate the light. If you are working with a reflective subject, for example a model wearing sunglasses, then you will need to raise the soft box to remove the glare from the glasses. This can also be applied when working with other reflective surfaces.

  • Combine a number of soft boxes for better lighting conditions. A standard set up may include one larger soft box as the main source of light and either a second soft box or a reflector to fill in the shadows and reduce harshness. When photographing a small subject in macro photography, the standard practice is to use one small soft box very close to the subject and directly in line with the camera.

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