One of the caveats of photography is the abundance of options for light modifiers on the market. Anything from the quick Magmod System to soft boxes to a variety of umbrellas. Over the past 25 years I have played with them all and I will share with you my favourite. At the end of the article, I will post my favourite. To begin with, I started with a Bowens System flash system and and a Bowens rectangular soft-box mount which was made of light aluminium and extremely heavy. Today, many Bowens Mounted systems are collapsible and lightweight which is an asset for offsite location shoots. When I refer to the Bowens mount, I am referring to the way the soft-box is attached to your Strobe. There are basically 3 types of mounting strobes to your soft-box. I generally use the Bowens mount because my strobes are set up for that. With newer technology, the strobes are more condensed and can be set up to take smaller fittings which is convenient for off site location shoots. The soft-box is a fantastic tool and is encouraged to be used with anyone who wants to explore lighting. I would suggest don’t go cheap on this modifier. The modifier with a beauty dish plate on the inside, inner baffle and exterior diffusion sheet is a better way to go than just a soft-box. The advantage is you can manipulate your light and direct it in a way to illuminate your subject in a multitude of ways without any hotspots on the subject. Perhaps one of the challenges with this is you would need a powerful light source to illuminate your subject due to the fact of
the amount of diffusers within the soft-box itself. A normal flash, with an Bowen’s Adapter, may not be sufficient in an outdoor scenario where more mount is needed. Again, if you are doing this professionally, cheap may not be the best way to go. You can never go wrong by purchasing a flash with more power than you need. When you have power, you can almost tackle any scenario both indoors and outdoors with quick recycling time too. Back to the Soft-box advantages. First and foremost, it casts light in an evenly and softly. When used properly shadows will be reduced and with the right soft-box, harsh hotspots will be eliminated. The light from your strobe will be bouncing within the soft-box and explode in the direction of your constructed soft-box. Parabolic Soft-boxes tend to be very directional. Large rectangular soft boxes create a Window look and octagonal soft boxes provide beautiful sculpting capabilities too with beautiful catch light within the subjects eyes. If you add a grid, you can easily isolate your light to create very dramatic lighting or used for specific purposes such as lighting a subject's hair or face only.
Soft-boxes come in a multitude of sizes and that will be discussed in another blog along with the advantages and disadvantages of a soft-box.
Photographers Pic: As mentioned, I have used a multitude of soft-boxes over the years and to me convenience of setup time and the ability to collapse the soft- box during a shoot is very important. As a wedding photographer and organizer of several commercial shoots, time is money especially when you are renting a facility. I truly love the Interfit collapsible soft-boxes as I find them producing a pleasing light along with the attractive price points. There is a soft-box for every budget. I am not endorsing one brand over another and I am sure there are exceptional soft-boxes out there that will trump the performance of my selected choices. I encourage you to explore and find your niche and use it to master its capabilities.