Here I want to show you how I built my studio light with a softbox.
The idea building this was in my head for a while, so finally I gathered the materials, the tools and started to work.
It is fairly simple so you should be done in max an hour.
- can be used as sot box and indirect white-lit screen
- strong, daylight lamp with 70W HQI Power-ball bulb
- mounted on a tripod
- (can be used as a freestanding lamp)
Surfing through Instructables.com I found two similar projects, you might want to have a look on, before you go to deep into the work.
DIY Fabric Softbox (14 x 56 Strip) by mark11photography
Build a photo studio - Collapsible Light Diffuser Frames by engunneer
The material you will need is:
1 x Lamp Lamp (work light or preferably an HQI light with a broad spectrum )
5 x wooden laths Frame and holder (20" or 0,5m , for example out of an old lath floor)
8 x wood screw Screw the frame (Choose them short enough, so they won't stick through)
1 x wooden block Frame to holder (3x3" or 8x8cm)
1 x pillow case as diffuser (20" by 20" / 0,5 x 0,5 m - 1case should gives 2 screens)
1 x screw with nut Lamp to holder
1 x tripod adapter Soft box to tripod (either you have a spare one, or you engineer one)
1 x tripod To mount it on
The tools I used:
Staple gun and about 100 staples,
Drill with a 3mm drill bit and a drill bit for phillips screws.
Have Fun !
See here the finished soft box, used for indiret lighting,
and the materials I used.
Step 1: Make the Frame
Collect you material and get ready for the task.
Let's start with the wooden frame which will hold the stretched cloth.
Our main goals:
- clean 90° angles
- min. 2 screws per corner
- screws shall not drill through to the other side.
I saved myself from the work of creating fancy corner connections.
Just let the laths overlap in the corners (see picture below)
Since we are already handling the drill and the screws, let's fix the connector between the frame and the holder before we go on
So for all four corners:
- align the two meeting laths in a 90° angle, use a right angle to be sure
- hold them tight or fix them with a clamp
- drill the first hole
- screw them together
- double check the angle
- dril the second hole and screw in screw number2
Fixing the connector:
The connector has to hold frame and the lamp holder together.
Better make it rigid, both parts are heavy.
- mark the center of one frame side (this side will become the bottom side)
- mark the center of the connector
- use an extra bit of the laths to figure out the right height for the connector block (see picture)
- fixate block and frame, and drill 2 holes
- screw in two long screws.
Step 2: Fix the Fabric
As fabric for the soft box I chose an old white pillow case.
Other good choices for the fabric might be:
- big white shirts
- white bed sheets
- baking paper
- old white cloth curtains
To fix it and stretch it properly I started,
1 - stapling it on the top, middle of one side of the frame.
2 - stretch it to a corner on the other side and staple it on top as well
3 - staple the last corner of the created triangle on top of the frame (see picture)
4 - wrap the cloth around the 2 unfixed sides of the frame so you can tighten it better
Step 3: Fixing Lamp Holder and Lamp
Fixing the lamp holder is done very quickly
- fix the holder on the connector block
- drill 2 holes with 3mm
- screw in 2 long screws
Drilling the hole for the lamp
... could be done before, but I do it now.
Use the same diameter for the hole, as your screw has.
Since my screw had 10mm I used a 10mm drill bit
- drill hole
- hold lamp
- place screw
- fix nut
- done you are.
Have a look at the picture, to see how it looked for me.
Again: Make it work for your materials, if your lamp has a different holder, or none at all... be creative!
Let me also throw in a warning here:
Lamps have the attitude to produce heat,
and fabric on the other side tend to burn really good.
So check you lamp for a safety distance, and make sure you keep this distance.
If there is no safety distance on your lamp keep 20 to 30" (50 - 80cm) distance.
Let me sum this up : Lamp - heat - fabric - burn - NO ME GUSTA !
So keep it safe!
Step 4: Fixation to the Tripod
In order to fixate the soft box to the tripod (what ever type you have available) you have to manage 2 things:
- find the center of gravity
- engineer an adapter to your tripod
Finding the center of gravity (cog) is easy.
Just balance the whole setup in your hands, have one hand on the holder, and keep moving it between lamp and screen. At one point you will feel that the whole construction is not leaning towards either sides (lamp or screen) - it's balanced.
Mark this point with a cross.
There we will drill a hole (most likely) to install our self-engineered adapter (see next paragraphs)
Building an adapter to the tripod
I imagine, that it is easier in the states to find a thread insert, or a nut, which fits the standard "camera screw" (3/8" with 20 threats/inch, I think)
Since the rest of the world is used to proper screws and threads (metric !), we have to go into detail,
and engineer our own adapter to the specific tripod, we have.
Some have a quick fixation plate, others have a screw extension, as shown in my picture.
- a plastic rod (22mm diameter, 20mm high)
- an M6 screw and a nut
- a 35mm washer
... to adapt to my tripod (see pictures)
as soon as you finished you adapter and installed it, there is only one thing left
Mount the soft box on the tripod
Step 5: Addons, and Further Discussion
After finishing this soft box, I was not happy, with the weight and the size of the whole construction, so I sketched the next version with a foldable screen and a angled mirror on a telescope pole. (see pictures)
I also added the second screen from the pillow case, so I can use the soft box (detached from the tripod) as a freestanding lamp in my apartment.
It gives a pleasant, smooth, white light. And with it's 70W it can illuminate a room for a cozy evening.
Please keep posting comments, so I can improve future entries.
- Thanks for reading -