>Weekend DIY project: Softbox

>So, long time-no see, eh?
Sorry for the updates delay, but I’ve been (kinda) busy all this time, and will soon post the goodies.

But first things first!

DIY softbox XI

As you realized by the title, I’ve been playing with tools in the weekend, to build myself a new light modifier.

More, after the jump…

Da Premise
So, softboxes are cool. No way around it. Great to soften the light and, more importantly, to feather it. Umbrellas are cool too (especially shoot-throughs), and I’ve used them a lot combined with dome-diffusers to get that extra softness. The thing is, you have an half-sphere blowing light into everything, which is bad for shooting in cramped interiors.

So I want need a softbox!

There are lots of cheap(ish) lightboxes on the market. But they have a drawback: they’re thought-out to work with monoblocs and not with strobes, which is not great for us starving young-ones.
Long story short, the strobes are a VERY directional light, and part of the softness is lost.

…Some guys noticed that, and came-up with a pair of softboxes (and also striplights) that go around this issue by having the strobe inside the box, firing into the back of it, and the results are brilliant.

(If only they were cheaper…)

Da Plan
So, those aforementioned boxes don’t look so complicated! They’re built from an umbrella frame.

That can’t be so hard to build in your basement/garage/living room…

Time to build you own Greek/Roman-Sun-God-Light-Modifying-Box*!
(*Sorry, but if I used it’s original name, I’d probably be sued)

So, the first thing we need, is an umbrella.
Got mine from a bazaar-store, for about 2eur.
DIY softbox I DIY softbox II
Notice it has 8 ribs. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Since we’re going to build a box, might as well make it square. Having 8 ribs, means we can choose one of the two rib crosses that are perfectly perpendicular.

So, we take our cutting pliers, and get rid of the excess ribs.
DIY softbox III
Looking square, which is great.
Time to get rid of the handle, so we can fit it into an umbrella stand.

DIY softbox IV DIY softbox VI
So, now I made a paper stripe to hold the frame bent into a softbox, and tested it. It works! Now if only we could make it a more proper colour… Bring the plotter paper!

DIY softbox VII DIY softbox IX DIY softbox X
If I could just fill those side holes…

DIY softbox XI DIY softbox XIII
Shot it at 1/4 or 1/8, not sure anymore. Notice how the orange bowl is nicely soft lit, while the background is totally underexposed. It’s a success!
Wait, something’s not right here…

DIY softbox XII
Ah, bawls! That shaft is too long. Have to figure out how to make it shorter, or detachable, or something…

Disaster Strikes

DIY softbox VIII
Damn! The ribs got bent when I tried to close it.

Catastrophe! (Or “Wait, what’s that noise?”)

DIY softbox XIV
After trying to straight it out, the worse bent rib gave in, and broke.

So, WWW? (What Went Wrong?)

Note to Self: don’t use a spring umbrella. The spring coil is not properly stuck, so it caused too much torque for the ribs to hold, and they bent hopelessly.
Also, that damn shaft is too long, I’ll have to work that out. (I’m inclined to make it detachable)

Anyway, for the time being, it works as expected from a softbox.
It’s still not foldable, but for a semi-static box, it’s working good. Each side is 45cm (about 18in), but it could be made bigger, with a bigger umbrella. (I started with a kids’ one, so it was already small.)

So, I have to run to the store to get another one (NO SPRING!), and try it again. After it works with the paper prototype, I’ll make the black fabric cover with silver inning for maximum reflective power, and call it a day! (I’m thinking emergency camping blanket…)

In any case, you are now heading in the right direction, and if you have any suggestion to solve these three problems, hit the comments!

“Igor, to the store!”