How to use soft light accessories

Softboxes, radomes and umbrellas are the most common flash soft light accessories. Regarding soft light, we must first tell you the very important rules for using soft light accessories: the larger the light-emitting area and the closer to the subject, the softer the light. Perhaps everyone is not very clear about the concept of soft light. In fact, soft light means that when the light irradiates the subject and the shadow is relatively shallow or sometimes no shadow is visible, this kind of light is called soft light. In contrast, hard light is the light when the shadow of the subject is very obvious, and the edge of the shadow is sharp.

Softbox size

I think everyone should have a basic understanding of this concept, and then we can use the above rules to understand. If you want the light to be very soft, or even so soft that there is no shadow, use a large soft box and umbrella! In this way, the luminous area is relatively large, and the light is also soft. Smaller softboxes and umbrellas have a smaller light-emitting area and still bring some shadows. The smaller the size, the sharper the shadow.

The scenes we shoot can’t always be fixed, so choose the size to be easy to carry. And the size of your room will also limit your choice of device size, so choose the largest size within the available range. In addition, our choice of light may not necessarily be the softer the better, so it is not that the bigger the better. The conclusion is: if you are extremely seeking to soften the light, choose as large as possible, otherwise, use a moderate size and keep some shadows. You can move the soft box as close to the subject as possible to get the soft light effect of a larger soft box, as well as umbrellas and radomes.

Softbox types

Regarding the types of softboxes, there are rectangular, square, octagonal and bar shapes in terms of shape.

1. The rectangle is the most versatile. It is like the light coming through a window. It is suitable for shooting people and products, but there is no essential difference between a square and a rectangle. Perhaps when shooting products, the photographer wants to reflect it. The light spot is more positive, so choose a square at this time. In addition, if the head and shoulders of the model are lighted directly, a square soft box of not too large size is usually used to take a full-length bust. The rectangular shape is more suitable.

2. The octagonal softbox is closest to a circle. If it is reflected in the eyes of the model, the eye light is also a relatively natural circle. Therefore, if you want to consider the shape of the eye light when shooting portraits, you usually use an octagonal softbox.

3. The strip soft light box is mainly used for “hooking”, and the contour light is best used (of course it is not absolute, you want to use it as the main light, what you want is the effect, and there is no mistake). When shooting people or cars, adding strip soft boxes on one or both sides can emphasize the lines of the edges. When shooting reflective products, such as metal tableware, you can also use a strip soft box to create a long and thin reflective area. The interesting thing about the strip soft box is that it is a “big soft box” on the long side and a “small soft box” on the short side, so different shadow effects are formed in the two directions. Remember, the light of the large soft box is softer, and the small soft box is harder.​​

4. A grille can be added to the front of some softboxes. The effect is that there is less light overflowing from the edge and the irradiation range is smaller. And the contrast will also increase to a certain extent. Not all softboxes have a grille design. If the outermost layer of soft light cloth does not shrink a few centimeters inside, but is directly covered outside, then this kind of softbox cannot be equipped with a grille.

Installation of soft box

When installing the softbox, you need to insert the brace into the brace ring, and stretch out the entire shape by the metal brace. This is usually a time-consuming, laborious, and skillful process. The good news is that if you use it in a studio, you don’t usually need to disassemble and reassemble it often. It’s better to put it as it is when it is used up. If you want to take it out, you have to disassemble and assemble frequently. The process of disassembly and assembly is time-consuming and laborious, so many photographers prefer to use umbrellas when shooting outside.