View Full Version : Softbox Portrait Technique

08-30-2006, 02:17 PM
I have a new and larger softbox on order and thought I'd ask some of you guys that do more formal portrait work, what technique you use with a softbox? How close do you go, what angles, do you use other heads with umbrellas for other light in the same shots?

09-02-2006, 09:37 AM
I'm a really big fan of using just one light with a softbox for portraits. I use a foam board as a bounce on the other side of the model.

Generally I like to put the light to the right of the camera, and usually have the model about five feet away, with about a 45 degree angle.

Before I picked up a softbox, I was using an umbrella, but i like the feeling that the softbox gives. Its a little softer, wraps around a little better.

09-02-2006, 12:56 PM
How big is your foam board?

09-02-2006, 10:31 PM
How big is your foam board?

:eek: isnt that kind of personal Justin? :D :D :D

( I was gonna ask about the size of his softbox and flash head myself..lol)

09-03-2006, 08:20 AM
Ha ha ha.

The foam board isn't that large. Its an odd-end from a larger piece I had that I was trimming to make an oversized transport case for my large prints. Its a good size for covering head and shoulder shots. You can get really nice 30x40 sized foam core sheets from Dick Blick for rather cheap.

If I can think of it, I'll snap a picture of the setup while I'm at the studio today. I was doing some test shots yesterday and I didn't bother breaking anything down.

I believe the sofbox is about 2ft by 3 ft, and I'm using a B800 alien bee.

09-03-2006, 07:08 PM
Here is the setup I was using yesterday/today:


one of the results:


and then me playing:



also, I had this for another forum board, but if anyone cares to see what the studio looks like:


09-04-2006, 10:04 AM
thanks a ton for showing that off sid. i guess a softbox is next on my list along with a foam board

09-05-2006, 09:44 AM

Have you tried going closer with the softbox? I was told by another longtime portrait photographer to go in very close with the softbox... like 2-3 feet from the subject.

With regard to the fibercore, I get the cheapest I can get at craft stores, and then just use packing tape (on the back) to tape the sections together into larger (folding) reflectors. I've made them that were about 6' high that way. The other advantage of making them so they fold is that then they can stand up when folded, like a room divider.

09-07-2006, 01:49 PM
i wonder how big a softbox i'd have to go for even vehicle lighting. Since i have have 2 AB800's i wonder if i could get away with 2 4ft boxes...

By no means would i need anything like this: (but it'd be nice!)

1x Canon 5D
1x Canon 17-40mm lens
4x Dynalite packs & heads
1x Nikon SB28
1x Chimera M softbox

09-07-2006, 02:12 PM
I think you'd need substantially more than that if you are going to use a softbox.... Softboxes spread the light softly and approximately in the shape of the softbox. I had a 2x3 box and am going to be doing some seated senior portraits this month and so I bought a 3x4 box to properly cover the area. For standing subjects, you generally go with a 6' high softbox. I think you will probably need to stick with umbrellas unless you are planning on buying some big boxes, and they are pretty pricey, even for the small ones. Umbrellas are pretty cheap so I'd start there and see where you end up.

Check this out...


Image of setup at S3 Studios in Detroit - http://s3studiorentals.com

There is a great segment with lots of photos on PhotoTalkRadio here... http://www.worldtalkradio.com/archive.asp?aid=7150 ... Gil Smith shares how he got into the industry of automobile photography, and how he got to the top. He also shares his technique on some very cool shots.

09-07-2006, 02:15 PM
You might also look at getting some very large sheets of fibercore (which is pretty cheap), and using them as huge reflectors. If you look at the Gil Smith PhotoTalkRadio gallery, you will see that he uses enormous reflectors which are hung from cables that he can precisely control the angle and height of. You could make up some 4x8 sized fibercore, and then rig up some way to hold and position them. Assistants are always good for that if they are light enough. Then I suspect you could use your strobes to bounce the light onto the subject and get a soft light over a large area.