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Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-03-2006, 08:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I currently use 2 AB800 monolights with 32" reflective umbrellas. It was suggested to me (on this forum) to use a softbox with a grid, since my lighting is to "broad" with the umbrellas.

I started looking around at softboxes, but realized that there are way to many choices to be made without some help.

So here are the questions:

What brand softbox should I buy?

Do I need 1 or 2?

What modifiers do I need (grid?)?

Do "universal" speedrings work, or should I buy a native Alien Bee speed ring?

Any other input is greatly appreciated.
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Re: Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-03-2006, 11:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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This forum is excellent at offering a lot of experienced advice, but a broad question usually results in a broad range of answers. What brand/type of softbox you should buy depends entirely on what you intend to shoot with it and what "look" you want to achieve. If you would offer more specific information on where you shoot, what you shoot, what look you want to achieve, etc. I'll bet you get some excellent replies.

Personally, I use 2 AB 400s and 1 AB 800 and have both umbrellas and softboxes. I use the umbrellas when I want a hot, broad light that floods the set. I use my two 30" softboxes or my 36"x48" softbox when I want a softer more glamorous look. I also use a 40 degree egg crate grid when I want to control the spil of light - but then I also use a variety of reflectors, flags, diffusion panels, etc.
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Re: Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-03-2006, 11:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photomart View Post
I use my two 30" softboxes or my 36"x48" softbox when I want a softer more glamorous look.
That is what I am trying to achieve, the "softer more glamorous look."
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Re: Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-03-2006, 12:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I recently bought a photoflex half dome softbox. I like the level of quality and fit/finish so far. Easy setup and tons better finish than the AB softbox units. The prices on these things always seem high (all brands) to me, I don't know if this is within your budget.

I think with the grids and box it was about 330 or so. I just reused one of my existing speedrings, but if you need one of those you probably need to add about $50 or a few bucks less.

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Re: Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-03-2006, 02:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'd suggest that you forget about buying a softbox at this time. Learn how to use your umbrella's first.
Once you learn how to light your subjects with just one umbrella, then bring in the second umbrella. Learn that first.
Then, once you've done that, you'll understand a lot more about lighting and will be much better equiped to make a good decision when you do buy a softbox.

I fear that you are falling for a common myth; which is thinking that a buying something will make you a better photographer.

If you don't understand how to use umbrella's to take great photos, you won't understand how to use a softbox to take great photos.
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Re: Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-04-2006, 09:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eoym View Post
I fear that you are falling for a common myth; which is thinking that a buying something will make you a better photographer.
I could not agree more that better equipment will not make me a better photographer. However, everyone on this forum talks about using the right tools for the job, and I was lead to believe that what I am using (32" white translucent shoot through umbrellas) was not the right tool for the job. What I am hearing is I am lighting to boradly, and I can get more focused with a softbox with a grid.



If that is incorrect, PLEASE let me know.

Thanks to everyone for their input!
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Re: Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-06-2006, 01:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You can actually do a good job with umbrellas, but they take extra work. The umbrellas tend to spread the light all over the place. Some bounces off the ceiling, floor, walls, etc and as a result you sometimes aren't able to develop the shadow areas of your photo. The first thing to try with the umbrellas, is place one on either side of the model at about a 45 degree angle in front of the model. Have them the same distance from the model. Now in one of them have your light at full power and on the other at 1/2 power. Keep in mind that the closer the umbrellas are to the model, the softer the shadows will be and the further away the harder. Naturally as they get closer, you'll have to stop down, or you'll have to reduce the power of each head (but keep the ration the same as above).

Now shoot shots and see what the shadows look like. If the model looks straight ahead, then the shadow the nose casts will determine your type of lighting. Shoot some with her looking at the main light. Some looking at the fill light, Then raise the lights higher and shoot the same sequence. Then try them lower and shoot the same sequence. Then try a sequence with a black reflector on one side of the model or the other and watch the effect it has on the shadows.

The above experiments should give you much food for thought and you'll start to understand what the lights are doing.

Click for larger version
Re: Softbox Suggestions Please 


In this shot of Malloy, can you tell where the black reflector was?

cheers,
rfs
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Re: Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-06-2006, 05:19 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks Mr. Smith,

I own a 24"x24" soft box, 2- white 32" umbrellas, and a 45" black/silver umbrella from Westcott. I'm going to try your idea as I too have found that umbrellas can be quite broad at times. I've found that they make nice ambient lights when mixed with a hard directional light. Thanks again and hopfeully I'll post a photo or two.

JW
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Re: Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-06-2006, 08:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Mr. Smith,

Thank you for your input. I will take the time to experiment with the umbrellas, and see what I come up with. I guess I need to dial the power on both of the heads way down to reduce the spill. It seems that I am getting light everywhere, and no shadows.

BTW: The above picture was taken with the 2 umbrellas at 45 degrees from the model, main at full, fill at 1/2, with the model looking at the fill.
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Re: Softbox Suggestions Please
Old 12-06-2006, 01:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ffppro View Post
Mr. Smith,

Thank you for your input. I will take the time to experiment with the umbrellas, and see what I come up with. I guess I need to dial the power on both of the heads way down to reduce the spill. It seems that I am getting light everywhere, and no shadows.

BTW: The above picture was taken with the 2 umbrellas at 45 degrees from the model, main at full, fill at 1/2, with the model looking at the fill.
Dialing the power down, is not going to change the light ratio. Since she's looking at the fill, that tends to even out the shadows. Try having her looking straight ahead and then observe the nose shadow. Also try some different exposure settings to see what that gives you. Also if you move the lights further away, then that will cause the shadows to be more noticeable (smaller light source = harder light = less difuse shadows).

Cheers,
rfs
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