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Softbox Oops! Advice appreciated :)

Discussion in 'Beginner's Corner' started by bexandmolly, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. bexandmolly

    bexandmolly New Member

    Hi all, hoping you might be able to offer some advice.

    Firstly, I'd like to mention that I am a complete beginner with photography and the equipment.

    So basically I'm taking a lot of photos now of my dog as a she models the products I sell. She sits in front of a white wall with light coming from a window in front of her (Behind me from when I'm taking the photos). Quite a lot of the time I can struggle with the natural light if it's a dull day, so I thought it would be a good idea to get a softbox (as I've seen other people use).

    So this Christmas I asked my dad for one. I linked him a few I liked the look of on Amazon and that had good reviews.
    He got me a Luxlight 80cm Octabox Softbox with Grid.

    Now, on the photo on amazon it just looks like it comes with everything you need... I find out when opening it up today this is not actually the case - No stand, and no bulb.... and where does a bulb even fit!?

    I look it up and turns out the bowens s-type fit means it needs some kind of studio lighting thing! Oh my goodness they are so expensive! I did not realise all this :( So just wondering if you could offer any advice - is there any cheaper alternative I can attach to it for the light? Or is there a budget studio light available? Also, what kind of stand would be able to support it? etc..

    Any help greatly appreciated! Thanks you xx

    Edit: I have come across a 'Godox SL 60W 5600K' with stand included for around £100 which is quite a lot cheaper than others I was looking at - would that work?
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Hi, studio lighting gets quite complicated. If you have a white workspace with good ambient light then a simple bounced flash may be all you need to overcome movement in the dog. Direct flash gives shadows. All a soft box does is spread the light from a point source, a flash gun bounced off a white wall or ceiling will do a similar job. All these things have some sort of size constraint so it's no good trying to bounce off a cathedral roof but a domestic house/small office space will be fine. Second hand flash guns are quite cheap, even for the major brands.
    bexandmolly likes this.
  3. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    I had a quick look and the good(ish) news is that you don't need to buy a Bowens studio light. The S-Fit refers to the mount and means you can attach other light modifiers to it, such as beauty dishes or barn doors. The bad news is that you do need a flashgun - I don't know what sort of camera you use so can't recommend anything. Stands are cheap enough - these are advertised under your soft box https://www.amazon.co.uk/AmazonBasi...7KBZMBM14T0&psc=1&refRID=AJRE20J8V7KBZMBM14T0
    bexandmolly likes this.
  4. bexandmolly

    bexandmolly New Member

    Thanks both for your replies and advice!

    Ideally I would like to figure out a way to use the soft box as it was a gift and it's a nice quality bit of kit. I'm interested to have a play with it and see how my photos turn out with it.
    I was hoping to have just a continuous light for ease of use and simplicity - I don't have any experience using flash apart from directly from the one built in on my cam which always looks awful. I understand those flash guns can be pointed upwards etc.. so the flash is not directly on the subject so I can see how that would make it much better. However I did think a continuous light would be better for photographing the dog rather than a flashing light?
    It seems strange that some kind of bracket/adapter is not available so it can take a bulb. Is there a flashgun you could recommend and are they simple to use?


    This is a pic taken of Molly in front off the white wall. Window is in front of her (can sort of see it in her eyes). It was a very dull day - I've brightened it up quite a lot in photoshop.

    Many thanks again!
  5. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Nice dog picture.

    You are right that built-in flashes are generally useless for lighting. The only one I found vaguely useful is that on a Fuji XE-2 which pops up on a little spring and can be tilted up with a finger so that it doesn't point ahead. That said, it is too feeble for bounce.

    Two things really. I should say that this isn't my field so I'm not talking from experience. Continuous lighting is bright and not nice to be in front of, you certainly won't like looking at it. It also can get very hot though this is not a problem with modern LED lights. Modelling lighting is often used to show how the shadows fall but flash used to take the actual picture. You are best going to a shop that has expertise in studio lighting (and a studio) so that the options can be explained to you. Camera clubs often have studio gear, or hire a studio for practice, so it might be worth seeing if you have one locally. They tend to have web-pages and mid-winter is the most likely time to find studio exercises.

    Second - black dog against white wall is making life as hard for yourself as possible. Probably harder than wedding white dress and black suit because of the gloss in the dog's coat. Getting a correct exposure to minimise post-processing work and maximise quality, whether using natural or artificial light, properly needs an incident light measurement but you can make some progress using a standard grey card. Broadly speaking*, camera meters are calibrated on the assumption that a scene has an average reflectance and the recorded image should have an average brightness. So left to itself the camera would make your white wall appear grey and, if your wall were black, the camera would also try to render it grey if it could take a long enough exposure. Putting a black subject on a white background can confuse the camera and it sounds like this is happening to you. A standard reflectance grey card can be used to get a correct exposure reading. The aperture and exposure time from this reading can then be put in the camera in manual mode setting (ISO should be fixed throughout). Then whites and blacks should appear in balance. If the camera has no spot metering mode then the grey card needs to be big enough so that the metered image fills the viewfinder while the camera is far enough away not to cast a shadow.

    *intelligent metering modes (evaluative metering, matrix metering) try to account for common distributions of light and dark around the scene.
  6. RobertCoombes

    RobertCoombes Well-Known Member

    I have only ever used a single large brolly mounted on stand or tripod, which ever was more easy to carry. I did make a bracket to attach a modeling light, but not always was power available. One brolly one flash is easy and easy is best. There is only one sun.
  7. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    It is a bit limited advice - usually it is a useful reference site - https://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/portrait-lighting.htm. I don't know why they used an avatar/simulation rather than real person/lighting of the setup/effect. In the language they use you are seeking to replace one soft light with another soft light.
  8. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    What make and model of camera do you use and how much would you be willing to spend on a flash gun?
  9. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

  10. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    If you absolutely want to use that softbox then you need a flash head with a bowens mount to fit into it. You will also need a light stand. You may or may not need to purchase a modelling lamp and flash bulb depending on whether they come with your flash head or not. You will also need either a cable to link your camera to the light and trigger it when you press the shutter, or a transceiver set to send a radio signal to the light on depression of the shutter, or a flashhead that comes with this built in. You really ought to have a lightmeter too.

    Learning to use studio flash is a steep learning curve to begin with and can be very expensive. When I first started out I had a very cheap continuous light set up and very quickly became frustrated with the limitations it put on my photogrpahy so I ended up chucking it out and investing in Bowens flashheads. I also took a course to learn how to use them.

    I think your options are to send that softbox back and order a set that comes with everything you need or buy what you need to make that softbox work. In either case I would recommend learning a bit more about studio lighting before spending any more money.

    If I were you I'd be buying this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Godox-Prof...jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

    and the stand that Geoff linked you to. That way you can keep your soft box.

    Another option would be a flash gun that you mount to your camera that you can swivel/rotate and you can always make your own softboxes for those although there are 'proper' ones available. In either case, a large white flat surface soemwhere in yoru studio is probably more use than anything else for bouncing light around.

    Attached Files:

  11. Snorri

    Snorri Well-Known Member

    I like flash guns, and I think using them is the easy and cheaper way into studio work. There are good suggestions here, I would recommend reading through the Strobist blog as it had great info lighting and flash photography. https://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html
    Geren likes this.
  12. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Flash guns have the advantage too of being very portable, so you aren't restricted to shooting somewhere where there's a power supply or having to lug your own battery pack around with you.

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