Sofly softly now.

A softbox is a great device. Soft, wraparound, wonderful light that flatters your subject and yet imparts directionality. Like this recent picture of model Tara:

Model Tara, shot by Michael Willems using a softbox.

Model Tara, shot using a softbox.

That was using a large softbox on a studio strobe, powered by a lead acid battery.

But there are also small softboxes, and as a travelling photographer I love those. I am talking about the Honl Photo Traveler 8 softbox:

Honl Traveler 8 softbox shot by Michael Willems

Honl Traveler 8 softbox

That mounts onto the flash, which is fitted with a speedstrap:

Honl speed strap, shot by Michael Willems

Honl speed strap

Leading, Velcro style, to this:

Honl Traveler 8 softbox, shot by Michael Willems

Honl Traveler 8 softbox

Which gives you nice soft light, and gives you another big benefit: a round catch light. Like in this self portrait:

Michael Willems in a self portrait made using a Honl Traveler 8 softbox

Michael Willems in a self portrait

Nice, no? Not me, the light. Well OK, me too.

Tip: use the wide adapter on your flash (no, that is not a softener: it is merely a wide angle adapter), so that the light bounces off the inside.

And take the flash off camera with a flash cord:

Off-camera flash using Honl Photo Traveler 8 softbox

Off-camera flash using Traveler 8 softbox

That works well for macro pics, too, like this recent snap:

Flower, shot by Michael Willems with Honl Photo Traveler 8 softbox

Flower, shot with Honl Photo Traveler 8 softbox

Nice, soft shadows again.

One more example: this time the main light on the subject was a bare flash, and the fill light was a Honl Photo Traveller 8 softbox:

Model Tara lit by small flashes by Michael Willems

Model Tara lit by small flashes

My advice: get yourself a softbox or two.

Learning Opportunities:

  • I am doing another two workshops in July, with David Honl – yes, the very man who designed these excellent flash modifiers. On 12 and 13 July in Las Vegas, Nevada in Studio Petographique.  See for details.
  • And for Canadians here: there are spaces left on the full-day Creative Lighting workshop Joseph Marranca and I are doing in Mono, Ontario: details here.

And believe me, it is worth taking this type of course: we’ll teach you in hours what you would otherwise spend weeks learning.

8 thoughts on “Sofly softly now.

  1. What do you mean in the tip section about using the “wide adapter” on the flash?

    Can I take my flash (430EXII) off camera? I’ve never seen a flash cord before?

    How much do the Honl softbox retail for?

  2. The wide adapter is the little piece of transparent-like plastic that you can pull out and move ion front of the flash. It is not amodifier – just an adapter that makes the light go wider.

    Flash cords from Canon or from – yes you can!

    The Honl softbox – not sure, around $80 I believe. Definitely worth having in your bag!

  3. I see Flash Zebra sells a Canon compatible flash cord (3 ft) for $35. Vistek/Henry’s sells the Canon standard (the OC-E3) for a little over $120.

    What am I missing? Seems too good to be true.

  4. I have not tried the Flashzebra flash cord, but I have been happy with their service and with their other products. I know some readers here have bought the Flashzebra cord and have been happy with it, as far as I know.

  5. Michael, after looking further into soft boxes, I have noticed that most usage of the soft box are off camera.

    Do you think having the Honl Softbox mounted on the flash and shooting a small room venue be okay? Or should I just bounce the light?

  6. might be a silly question, but very curious. how do you do your self-portrait? u seem to have the flash pointed correctly and your composition perfect. subject (in this case…you) is also focussed? how are all these determined prior to taking the shot?

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