Studio Lighting – Flash Mounted homemade DIY Softbox

Studio Lighting - Flash Mounted homemade DIY SoftboxIf you are a photographer and using flash (either for studio pictures or for outdoor shooting), you are probably aware of the problems that a hot-shoe flash introduces: the shadows of an object are crisp-sharp, creating an artificial look to the object. When dealing with studio lighting, you can use a softbox to diffuse your shadows and this is an acceptable solution, but for the amateur photographer it does have some disadvantages:

1. A softbox is very expensive. A simple softbox like this softbox from Arri, can cost several hundreds of dollars. (See our big DIY softbox version)
2. A softbox is big, and can not be carried around.

The amateur photographer can compromise and us a flash mounted softbox like this softbox from Lumiquest, or a stoffen box. The problem with this one (although a minor one compared to the “big” Softboxes), is the cost, nearing 30 dollars. Well, I guess that for some 30 bucks is no big deal (and especially no big deal for photography equipment), but I am going to try and do even better.

In the following tutorial, I will demonstrate how to make your own flash mounted, homemade softbox (view results).

You will need two good hands, and some patience, but your reward will be a nice softbox for the cost of only 3-4 dollars. (Not to mention that wonderful feeling of cutting and gluing, like you are small kids again).

you might also want to check out the DIY Mini Flash Bouncer Guide or the DIY Mini Flash Diffuser Guide as alternate diffusing solutions.

Materials:

  • One sheet of hard cardboard or MAPAL (polypropylene sheet). (Apx 1$ at your local office depot)
  • One 10cm X 15cm white silk sheet. (You can probably get this for free from your local fabric store).
  • Some Velcro. (I use stitching Velcro that costs 1$ a meter).
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Template for softbox found here. I have place a more friendly format here (© 2006 Udi Tirosh. OK to print for personal, non-commercial use).
  • Computer and printer

Instructions:

1. Download the softbox scheme found here (© 2006 Udi Tirosh. OK to print for personal, non-commercial use).
if you are having trouble printing this on multiple pages, you can use this file in microsoft’s mdi format. it will print multiple A4 pages. (and here is one for letter pages)

2. Print the scheme at its original size (should take about 6 A4 pages – three wide and two long). good old mspaint (the crappy painter that comes with windows) can do the job.

3. Glue the sheets of paper together. (You can use the circles as place keepers between the sheets). You know you had it right if the 5cm mark on the paper actually is 5cm. You should end up with something like this.


(I used a material called MAPAL, it’s kind of a plastic cardboard, so I used masking tape, but if you use cardboard I’d place it with paper clips). You can see how it looks like here

4. Flip the cardboard and go over the lines. When you are done you can remove the scheme


5. Cut at the outer lines, you should get something like a star. Then remove the inner square (it should look like an old TV set).

6. Now glue the Velcro over the “star” edges to form a closable box.
7. Glue the silk sheet over the TV set. This is what you’ll get:

8. When you fold it, and attach the velcroes, it should look like this:


9. Great, you are done.

Results

Here is a test I made with (upper) and with out (lower) the Flash Mounted Softbox. You can see that the light is harsher on the bare flash. (Both pictures taken with Nikon D70, at ISO400 with an f/8 s=1/200 with the Nikkor 28-105 lens at 105 mm, and my good old SB-28). I used the background from the cheap home-studio setup.

Softbox mounted on flash

Direct (no softbox) Flash

If you have used the DIY Light Tent in this article, please post a comment with a link to your structure / photos – show off!

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