As Gavin Hoey explains in this informative video tutorial on softboxes, soft light is generally preferred over a hard light when shooting portraits. There are a number of light modifiers that can help achieve soft light, but one of the most commonly used is a softbox. When choosing and setting up the correct softbox for the job, size and distance from the subject will make a huge difference in the softness of light it will distribute.
Soft Light Vs. Hard Light
Before we get started, it’s important we understand the difference between hard light and soft light. In the clip, which you can watch below, Hoey explains soft light like this:
“Soft light is all about the shadows and how quickly they grade from shadow to highlight. The softer the light the smoother the blend from shadow to hard light.”
Take a look at one of Hoey’s example photos, here, to see the difference:
Of course, for some portraits, you may want to go for the look of a hard light depending on the style of photo you are trying to accomplish, but soft light is typically desired for most portraits.
How The Size Of A Softbox Affects The Light
So, how exactly do you get that perfect soft light look using a softbox? It’s not too difficult, but there are a couple things you should keep in mind. Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that:
“The bigger the light source relative to the subject, the softer the light becomes.”
Another thing you’ll want to experiment with is the distance in which you stand your softbox from your subject. Try moving your softbox closer or farther from your subject to fine tune the light. If the light still isn’t perfect, you can also bring in a grid for your softbox to further sculpt the light.
Softbox Size vs Soft Light
[ via SLR Lounge ]