softbox shape and its effect on light..?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by detune, Sep 4, 2006.

  1. detune

    detune Member

    Messages:
    96
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2005
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Just wondering whats the difference of a bit square soft box or the octagonal ones... Obviously the light must be shaped differently but is it obvious?

    Thanks :smile:
    Doug
     
  2. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    I think that much of it has to do with the desired shape of catchlights in the eyes in portraits and reflections in shiny objects.
     
  3. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,075
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Yes, in some cases, but more so I feel to provide maximum surface area with shallow depth, the main point of a soft box being to increase the physical size of the light source, so the "highlight" is larger than the subject, and the light wraps the subject evenly from a greater arc of angles. What we call soft light could also be called large light. Not about intensity, but size.
     
  4. bjorke

    bjorke Member

    Messages:
    2,032
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Location:
    SF & Surroun
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The spill shape will change too. The bigger the box and the closer it is to the subject, the more you'll see a difference.

    IIRC, http://www.photoflexlightingschool.com/ has some pages relating to different types (essentially some sample setups to show you why you need to buy their various sorts of kit)
     
  5. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Location:
    Ipswich, Mas
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    THANK YOU!!! (Three exclamation points) for that site! There is a WORLD of useful information here. I've only skimmed superficially, but I'm sure that it will intrude on my busy (argggh!) schedule in the future.

    I thought I knew a little about studio lighting. Now I realize just how little I know!
     
  6. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,765
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2003
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    An area Pro prefers umbrellas with diffusers to softboxes. One reason is the catchlight is more natural.

    Also, Thank you for the above link - much to learn.
     
  7. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,985
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The problem with umbrellas is that the light sprays everywhere and is not controlled the same as with a softbox. If a person has a catchlight fetish and only likes round ones you can buy an insert for a softbox that makes it round.

    Michael
     
  8. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

    Messages:
    659
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    The square boxes will make the catch-lights in the eyes (and other highly reflective surfaces) look like window light.
     
  9. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    I've never liked umbrellas, especially big ones. They are too self-filling. I like to have more control over the light. Small light boxes or hard lights.
     
  10. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,985
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Umbrellas make great fill lights. But for main lights, head and shoulders to 3/4, I prefer 24x36 softboxes. Any bigger and I find the light too mushy.

    I also have parabolics for harder light, mola for a bit softer and a bunch or different softboxes as well as grid spots.


    Michael
     
  11. detune

    detune Member

    Messages:
    96
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2005
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Shooter:
    35mm
    wow! thanks for all the info, looks like others found this question useful too :smile:
     
  12. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,630
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What do you plan on shooting? Lighting for people is very different than lighting a still life so the soft boxes can be very different. Also there are many alternatives to softboxes besides umbrellas. You can just as easily hang a roll of diffusion material and aim a reflectored light through it, or if you're shooting full figure you can bounce strobe heads off panels of 4x8' white foamcore, etc. Many methods are possible.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2006
  13. rorye

    rorye Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,166
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I like to make a frame with oil painters stretchers, then cover that with Roscolux or Tuffspun. It makes a nice diffusion panel, and I like to be able to adjust the distance between the light source and the diffusion, thereby getting softer/harder lighting as needed.
     
  14. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

    Messages:
    423
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    Location:
    Paris, France
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Excellent analysis, seconded.
     
  15. arigram

    arigram Member

    Messages:
    5,474
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2004
    Location:
    Crete, Greec
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I use an octagonal softbox which gives round-looking catchlight to the eyes which I prefer to the rectangular ones.
     
  16. Agency mh

    Agency mh Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Can some of you recommend a softbox brand which is good for portrait/fashion shoots? Is some brand significantly better? I use Photoflex 120x80cm (it give me possibilities to use gold and silver inserts), but have not try other brands yet.
    Thank you Martin