Using a softbox

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by redbourn, Oct 28, 2015.

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  1. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I just set up my new softbox.jpg softbox and reflector for the second time today to try and get an idea of how to use them for food photography.

    I learned yesterday that putting the softbox closer to the food seems to work better. I had it further away yesterday and got a lot of reflected light from the side of the plate.

    The photo was only taken with my phone because I didn't want to switch from the 1.8G lens on my Nikon just to take this shot.

    Comments on any obvious mistakes would be much appreciated and in particular I don't understand what caused the irregular light on the table from the softbox.

    Real newbie stuff I know ;-)

    Thank you,

    Michael


     
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  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't know what you mean by "irregular light" on the table.

    You might want to try moving the reflector down and closer to the dish. Try different positions for the reflector.
     
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  3. JustJazzie

    JustJazzie Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I dont really do food photography, so take this for what its worth.

    I might try to position the softbox from above and angle it down. That should improve the shadows cast from the back edge of the dish and the food itself.
     
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  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    One of the most basic rules is: The closer the light to the subject, the better the light. As indicated, you want your light to be come from (at least partially) above since this is the way the human eye expects light; the sun, overhead room lights, etc. I would lose the big reflector altogether and get some 8x10 & 16x20 pieces of white & black posterboard to use to control the reflections close in.
     
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  5. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks and I will try it out.
     
  6. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think angling it down is certainly worth a try. Thanks.
     
  7. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks
    irreg light.jpg
     
  8. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That's a reflection. Perfectly normal.
     
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  9. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Buy/borrow/steal a copy of the Lighting Bible - it will give you all the information you need, and then some.
     
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  10. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I will move the softbox closer and above to the subject at a slight angle. Once you move the softbox close, you will notice the shadow will be soften a lot. Even if you are not planning to put it above the subject, at least move it closer and higher.
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You need some way to properly position the softbox "in space", like a short boom arm with a counterweight. As shown, the softbox is right at the table height, and it is creating a big, lengthy shadow that comes forward, toward the camera position. Where the main light needs to be positioned "in space" depends on the individual photo and the desired objectives. Many food shots have some highlights that are actually reflections of the front of the main light, such as the sheen on top of a bowl of soup...that sheen, that diffuse reflection from say, the front of a flat-faced softbox that has been "flown over" the set, that is what gives the liquid its visual weight in the bowl...

    This is the kind of stuff that the lighting book Tirediron mentions will discuss at great length.

    I am going to give you the most valuable tip I can. You need to frame up the shot you want with mock-up food, or the real food, and have an assistant literally move the light through an arc, or two, or three arcs, while you look through the camera and continuously observe WHAT the light CREATES as it is moved. There is no substitute for moving the light through an arc, and observing what the heck happens, especially for a beginner. It takes a huge base of learning and practice to previsualize a lighting scheme, but with an assistant moving the light as you observe, you will quickly be able to evaluate light placement and correlate it with the effect it has on your food and plating. I can tell that you are struggling with some basics, such as why a flat,shiny table has a reflection from the softbox face.

    Again--you absolutely NEED some method to hold the softbox in a variety of positions and orientations, over the set. You need a sturdy light stand, and a boom arm and its mounting assembly. You can rig a counterweight with tape and some cans of soup or bottles of water in a bag.You do not need a 13 foot tall stand such as this one, but this is a good example of what is available at the lower end of the price ladder. Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder - 13' (4m)
     
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  12. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks. But what is it coming from and why is it angled. Michael
     

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