When photographing portraits in a studio, you can create many different looks using only one light. Depending on how you place it and how big it is, a softbox can significantly change the look and mood of your photos. In this video, Jay P Morgan discusses different factors of softbox placement. And when you learn how they affect your portraits, you’ll know exactly how to achieve the look you want.
1. Placing a softbox
When you use a square softbox, you can place it either horizontally or vertically. The area of coverage is the same no matter how you turn it. However, what does change is what the softbox “sees” on the subject. I you want some fill on the shadow side of the model’s face, you should place the softbox in a horizontal position. For a more contrasty look, place the softbox vertically and move it back a little.
2. Feathering a softbox
You can feather the softbox so it lights more or less of the model’s body and the background. If you want to light less of the body, feather the softbox up. And if you want the background to be darker, turn it a bit towards the camera.
3. Using a grid
Put simply, a grid narrows the angle of view of the softbox. So, when you use it on the softbox, it blocks the light from spilling out the sides. You can check out a great guide for using grids here and in the video below.
4. Large or small softbox
Finally, softboxes can come in different sizes. Generally speaking, the larger the light source is, the softer the light will be. So, a large softbox creates a softer, less contrasty light which wraps around the subject. In contrast, a small softbox creates harder, more contrasty light, which will give you a gritty look.
As I mentioned earlier, a single softbox lets you create many different looks. Watch the video above for a demonstration, so you can choose the right softbox for every shoot and position it properly.
[Laws of Light: Placing a Softbox | The Slanted Lens]