Welcome to day 2 of the 30-Day Portrait Challenge.

Over the past dozen years, I have collected more than my fair share of lighting equipment for my photography business. One of my initial purchases was a Westcott softbox. After a shoot thru umbrella, I think the humble softbox is probably the most common purchase for those interested in extending their lighting options. My umbrella is now rarely used thanks to my softbox modifier.

If you are new to photography, you may not yet have heard the term “modifier”. Modifiers are light shaping tools that photographers pair with their strobes and/or flashes in order to produce a certain look in their images.

The Light Setup

For the first series of photographs, I used the same room as from yesterday’s post. It was quite late in the day, and there was very little natural light available. In case you missed yesterday’s post here is a pull-back of that room.

My softbox was set up roughly where the chair is in the image above and was positioned to point toward the corner of the bed. With that setup, I took the following images.

For the next images, I turned off my flash to show the difference between the natural light and the softbox. I had to bump up my ISO to around 800 in order to correctly expose the image.


From those two set-ups, I actually prefer the natural light as I like the darker background.

If I had a grid (a grid helps to direct the light and decreases the amount of light spilling from the modifier) to put over my softbox I think I could have produced light closer to what I wanted.

However, my new mantra is, “No new light stuff. Period”. So that will have to wait. It sure would come in handy though.

Here is an additional mini-shoot using the Westcott Apollo Orb, another type of softbox that I love.

I started with the light at a 45-degree angle and captured one image of my youngest before she scampered off.

For the next image, I added a reflector to fill in the shadows under her chin. The reflector is tilted up toward her and resting in her lap. You can also tell a reflector is added by the catchlight in the bottom of her iris.

In the next two images, I placed a black piece of fabric on her side, to the right of the camera. This causes a darker shadow on the side of her from the non-reflective absorbing the light. You can use any dark non-reflective surface to do this.

No new gear needed.

For the next image, I kept the dark material and added the reflector back in. That is me trying new things.

Here, I moved the softbox to the middle of her face. The light falls more evenly across her but I had to position myself right under the softbox. You can see the shadow at the top of the image caused by the bottom edge of the modifier.

In this image, I simply moved the softbox to the other side of her, camera right.

So that wraps up day 2 and my basic use of a softbox.

I am sure I will be using the softbox many more times over the next month as I pair it with other modifiers to create different light setups.

Hope you are inspired to create portraits of your own.


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