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Digital Photography 101 - Learn how to choose a the fits on to studio lights.
Tags:How to Choose a Softbox,Softbox buying guide,learn photography,photography lessons,photography tutorials,snapfactory
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So that was a large soft box. The soft boxes also come in different shapes and sizes, this is a small soft box and it also has diffusion material. Soft boxes also come as strip lights which are sort of very, very narrow, tall soft boxes but they all have one thing in common, they have a back that controls the light and diffusion material in the front that softens the light.
So for soft light, soft boxes, octo boxes, things like that are really where you go so you get that really, really nice soft light. And then for harsh light, you want to use standard reflectors or just normal, different size reflectors so you can control that. So hard light, soft light.
So let us talk a little bit more about controlling where the light falls. There are different things that you can use that are really, really handy, one that is very common is called a snoot. No it is not a devil hat but looks like it. What the snoot does is it is just a cone and it allows the light to travel and emerge a very, very narrow beam. And this is used for things like lighting the background, hair light, just giving an accent on something, it is called the snoot and the way this works, depending on your manufacturer, there is different ways but normally it just attaches to your standard head and so the net attaches on to your light source.
So there is another thing that is really, really nice that does not narrow the light quite as much but it also controls the light and that is called the barn doors. What barn doors do is you can adjust these in and out, they spin around so you can have your light controlled, keep it from falling on a background, something like that. So those are barn doors, again they are on a standard head so these are going to be used when your light is pretty hard so you would not have barn doors on a soft box.
And then finally, to really control the light, this is, and I am not sure if you can see that, this is a—it is called a grid and it looks sort of like a honeycomb and you can get these in different degrees. This is a five degree grid so it controls the light from spreading in five degrees. You can get these in 10, 15, 20, 25 degrees. So basically how controlled you want the light, you get a tighter beam spread and you can get some really amazing effects with this. So again the light is going to be harsh because this attaches to a standard reflector, supposed to be very controlled so you get like almost a film to our look out of these.
One of the tricks that a lot of beauty photographer’s use is to use a grid light on what is called a beauty dish. A beauty dish is a really, really large reflector that makes the effective size of the light, really large and so the light is, even though it is a reflector, really nice and soft. Now you put that honeycomb grid on the front so you have soft light but very controlled light. So that is something a lot of beauty photographers use.
The other thing you can get, if you want to control the light, you can also get attachments for soft boxes, you can get grids that go on to the front of these just like the can for a standard reflector. And then you can also use things called flags, which I will show you in a second, that will allow you to do basically what a barn door does, that will control light from spilling onto a background or something like that. So let us take a look at flags so we can understand what they do.
So this is a flag and what a flag does is it keeps light from falling in areas where we do not want it to fall so if we wanted to block the light from falling into a background, we could put it between the light source and the wall and that would keep it from falling. The other thing that you can use flags for, it is very common, is sort of like a big baseball hat and you put that over your camera and that blocks light from falling into the lens and causing lens flare. So if you have a light that is really getting in the way, you can use a flag to block that out. If you watched episode zero of Digital Photography One on One, you will see a good example of when we flag some lights that were falling into the lens of the camera.
The other thing that we use quite a bit, now this is a light modifier that does not attach to the light source itself but it is a large reflector and so if you want to open up the shadows in your shot, and so you have a standard head and you are bringing it from the side, what you are going to have is a very, very high contrast shot with light on this side. Now to add some light on this side just to fill it in, you can use a very large reflector like this, the light will bounce of this and fill in the other side of your subject. Or you can use the reverse side of this, it is a very, it is just a solid black panel and that is called subtraction and it does the exact opposite thing. So if you want a higher contrast image, you can put this on one side of your image and so instead of having light bounce of the wall or something, this stops all the light from bouncing and so you are going to get a very, very dark side to your subject.
So these panels come in all different shapes and sizes, this one is just a little bit smaller than four by eight and you can also get diffusion material to stretch over these frames and so it is a really, really handy modifier to have. And these come either round, square, you can get them in all different shapes and sizes.