Softly softly.

For last night’s picture, what did I use?

Here’s the answer. It was a simple softbox. This one:

Bowens Softbox

That gives a beautiful and soft-yet-directional light – which is why softboxes are the gold standard for portraits.

Bowens Softbox

Can you see in the shot above how the light drops off beautifully and softly?

Camera lit with softbox

In a small room, the softbox alone is enough. For a beauty portrait, of course, I might add any of the following:

  • A reflector, underneath the model’s chin, to bounce light back.
  • A hair light (using a snoot).
  • A a background light, perhaps with a gel to change the wall’s colour.

But those are optional: quite often a standard beauty light softbox is all you need. So there you go.

A softbox is better than an umbrella because

  1. It is much more controllable.
  2. It does not throw (spill) light all over the room where you do not necessarily want it.
  3. Being double diffused, a softbox produces a softer light than an umbrella.
  4. It produces a more even light, and avoids hotspots more.

True: it is less convenient because it is bigger and heavier, does not fold into a tiny area, takes longer to set up, and costs more. But considering the advantages above, a softbox may still be the way to go.

Try using a single light with a softbox, and see how you get on!

1 thought on “Softly softly.

  1. Hi Michael —

    What would be a good starter softbox to do some simple portraits in your home?

    Can I use my 430EXII as the light source or do I need the Canon 580?


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