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Homemade softbox for continuous light
Old 12-22-2005, 05:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hello again.

Yet another "Homemade light setup" question from me... ;-)

First of all, I would like to share some pictures with you, taken by a Swedish photographer named Daniel Knutsen.
The point of interest, as I see it, is that the lightning in these pictures solely comes from 500w home depot work lights and homemade softboxes.
The kind of work lights that you (In Denmark at least) can buy for $12-14 including a stand.





(You can see more of Daniel Knutsen's images at www.dovearea.se )

I am, for one, rather impressed with the results of this low budget light setup, and if I could get just near the same results, I would be happy...

So my questions are for you:

What firesafe material do you think could be used for a softbox with an extremely hot home depot work light?

And what could be a good material for diffusing the light at the front, if I dont want to go out and buy the "real stuff"?

And how big do you figure the softboxes for these pictures should be, given the 500watt work light and subject?

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions,
Tim.
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Re: Homemade softbox for continuous light
Old 12-22-2005, 06:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Nice work. Can you show us the soft box and how it was made?
chuck
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Re: Homemade softbox for continuous light
Old 12-22-2005, 06:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Oh, please read the post again, Sir ;-)
It is not my pictures, and this post is actually a question about how this guy who took them, could have made the softboxes for the 500w home depot work lights I know he uses...
(If anybody wonders how I know, I followed his posting on a swedish photoboard, and he is famous there for the accomplishments with the lowbudget lights)

But yes, I think they are nice aswell.... ;-)

Kindly,
Tim.
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Re: Homemade softbox for continuous light
Old 12-22-2005, 08:43 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, back when I was messing with home depot lights, the easiest solution for me was a light panel, which is just a big rectangle of PVC pipe with some thin nylon stretched over it. Put it between the light and the model and you've got some nice diffused light. Another option might be to buy a big umbrella made for use with hot lights and rig up some sort of bracket for your lights. Most of the examples you posted could have been done with umbrellas. Except for the last one, the shadow from her hand is way to sharp for there to have been any kind of diffuser.

Gotta tell you though, most people who play with home depot lights give up on it sooner or later. A 500 watt light sounds like a lot, but when it comes to actual exposure, it's not as bright as you think. Particularly when you either bounce it off something, or put a diffuser in front of it. It can also be uncomfortable for the models.
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Re: Homemade softbox for continuous light
Old 12-22-2005, 09:07 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Larry:

Yes, I too am certain that I will grow tired of this type of lightning, but the only thing that stands between this and a flash kit is my wallet ;-)

But never the less, I have a shoot to do this January for my girlfriends own lingerie-line, so I have to come up with some ways to control this light better.

What I found interesting in this photographers photos was, in least in my ambitons, that they came out pretty decent and looks like something that I would like to achive.

He managed to build a softbox that he could stick a 500W HD light in, without it bursting into flames.

I tried building a big frame with white cloth to let the light go through, and as you said, one 500watt HD lamp wasent nearly enough, and it was useless as the light went everywhere.
So I need to at least block the sides to get more control...

I found some stiff, light iron "wires" that I can build the softbox skeleton from, but I am still uncertain about what safe material to use for the "boxwalls" and front diffuser.

Thought about using aluminum foil for the boxwalls, but then again that might give me some uncontrolable reflections, as it probably should be plain solid white inside.

Thanks,
Tim

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Re: Homemade softbox for continuous light
Old 12-22-2005, 09:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I know of a few photographers that have used the Home Depot style of hot lights and get good results with them. I use two of them which makes 1000 watts of light and with the right lens I can shoot at 350th of a second on the shutter speed with a difussion panel in front of them and a reflector to the other side. No model that has shot with me has ever complained about the lights. I do not know of anyone who uses a home made soft box with them though. This picture was done with two of those hot lights.



Jim
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Re: Homemade softbox for continuous light
Old 12-22-2005, 10:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Light is light. If you can color correct it and control it, it doesn't matter where it comes from.

I have a couple of Bessler Hot lights made specifically for photograpy. If you shoot a couple of them through a big westcott umbrella (the 7 footer) I seriously doubt anyone can tell the different between a hot light and a flash.
You could do the same with Home Depot type lights.

The issue for me is they do produce a lot of heat, you can only control them by moving them closer or further away from the model, and then the whole "fire" issue.

I once was bouncing one off a piece of foam core art board that was about 2 feet away from the light and it still got hot enough for the foamcore to start smoking after about 15 minutes.

In the end, I think the biggest reason people don't use them more frequently is that they are quite limited compared to a flash.

But that's not to say with some ingenuity, patience and consideration you couldn't use them to produce nice images.

Same thing with fluouresent lights, you can rig up a home made device and get some decent photos, but in the end, they have limitations inherent in the design.

Mark
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Re: Homemade softbox for continuous light
Old 12-23-2005, 11:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Larry, I got what you say about 500w not being all that much. However, thats one of the advantages I see with hot lights. When I want to shoot at f1.2 or f.18, I'll grab the hot lights rather than the strobe. I can shoot at the wide apertures and blur the background even if its only 5' from the model. I can't do that with my stobes since I can only dial them back to 1/64th power, which is still far too much.

Tim, There is that cost advantage between the two. But on the bright side, using the continous lighting will give you an edge in the end IMO, It is harder to work with, so you learn some excellent techniques required to work with them effectively which also carry over to using strobes. And, it puts more 'tools' in your lighting tool kit.

I also think the heat aspect of the lights are over exaggerated by some. I've heard sweating bullets, melting models, squinting, etc, but I have yet to have any model complain of any of those things. If you are very close to the light and its direct, yea, it will be hot. But diffused through a light panel with the model 6' or more away, they are unaware of any heat issues at all.

I use them when it makes sense, like any other light source including the sun, available light, hot lights, strobes, flashlights, etc [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

I posted these images in another thread on home depot lighting, so I apologize if its redundant here for those that read both threads. These were done with hot lights, some with and without panels.







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Softbox material...
Old 12-24-2005, 01:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'd suggest thin sheet metal for the housing. Head over to a place that does furnace ducts and have them whip up a housing. For the front I'd suggest leaving a 1 to 2 inch gap and using a thin tempered glass with a paper diffuser on the subject side. I think someone posted a picture of such a homemade outfit on GG within the past year or so.

Of course, there's no reason it has to LOOK like a softbox. Almost any enclosure which is light enought and heat resistant could be used. I was looking at some older tower computer cases laying around. By cutting a hole on one side for the light and a bigger hole on the other side for some sort of diffuser, you're practically home free. Of course those cases didn't have any plastic trim pieces.








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Re: Homemade softbox for continuous light
Old 12-24-2005, 01:33 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I don't use a homemade softbox with hot lights, but rather a softbox I bought on ebay from Amvona. It is of very thick material and seems to be highly heat resistant. There are also vents on the sides that can be opened up to allow the heat to be vented away from the 1 or two internal baffles. It seems to work quite well. I bought the entire large softbox (48x36) for about $80.
Cheers,
rfs
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