Saturday, July 07, 2012
Using a soft box as your main light has become a desired lighting technique in both the photo and video industries.
If you are going to do work in both photo and video, you should think about having a soft box that can work in both these fields, and adapt to a variety of light sources that you may own.
The MovieDome has the same shape as our SilverDome, which was designed for hot lights up to 2000 watts, and our LiteDome, which was designed for strobe. However, the MovieDome with its high heat resistant fabric, can be used with either strobe, or hot lights up to 5,000 watts of power. This gives you a much wider range of light head possibilities.
The MovieDome provides a soft, natural looking light when attached to all of these different light sources.
In this lesson we will demonstrate the lighting potential of this great, heavy-duty soft box.
(Click on any thumbnail image below for an enlarged view.)
- Setting up the Main Light
- Using Grids for Directional Control of Light
- Adding a Reflector as the Fill Light
Setting the Main Light
The Medium MovieDome is the best choice for our lesson. This light modifier creates a soft wrap around light that makes any subject look great. The medium size soft box is ideal for portraits or interviews from headshots to 3/4 length.
To get started on our lighting progression, we set up the Medium MovieDome with our Starlite and a 1000-watt lamp. This assembly was placed on a Photoflex LiteStand and since it would be our main light, we set it up approximately 45 degrees to camera left.
To power the Starlite, simply plug it in and turn it on.
We positioned the model about three feet away from the background so we could project the light on our subject and the background. We then posed her and checked the light pattern (figures 1 and 2).
There are a number of ways that the MovieDome can be positioned, but in the best position, the center of MovieDome should be at about eye-level with the model, and should be as close as you can get it without it being visible in the camera frame.
To fill in the shadows on the right side of the face, we brought in a LiteDisc on a LiteDisc Holder, mounted on a LiteStand. We are using a 42" Soft-Gold/White LiteDisc reflector with the white side facing our model for this set-up.
We placed the reflector at an angle so that it would bounce the light from our main into the shadows in her face.
We used the white side of the reflector to give us a neutral colored fill light. This will not change the color on the model's face, or the white top that she is wearing (figures 3 & 4).
Notice that this set-up allows you to project some light on the background to give the portrait some depth and dimensional feel to the result.
Below is a comparison of the image shot with the main light only (figure 5) and the image shot with the main light and a white reflector (figure 6). Notice how the reflected light has brightened her hair on the right side.
This set-up also allows you the option of modifying the feel of the photo or interview from natural to dramatic, without re-setting the model or the lights. One option is to add a set of grids to the main light.
Using Grids for Directional Control of Light
We installed “Grids” to the front of our MovieDome "main light" in order to control the light on the background. The MovieDome has a wide light coverage angle, and the purpose of the grids is to narrow that angle down, to keep the light just on the subject, and not let it hit the background.
The grids attach to the MovieDome with the sewn-on Velcro® that lines the perimeter of the grids. The soft box has the receiving Velcro strip sewn-on the inner rim.
To attach the grids, line up one corner of the grids with one corner of the soft box, then press into place along rim of the box (figure 7).
By simply added Grids to the front of the MovieDome we narrowed the light spread from about 90 degrees down to 40 degrees. This will keep the soft natural light from the MovieDome on our subject.
However, because of the way we have the light positioned, the 40 degree angle of the grids will prevent the light from hitting the background, even though we have the model only 3 feet away (figures 8 and 9).
Next, we brought back the LiteDisc to fill in the shadows. Now that we have the grids on the MovieDome and only 40 degrees of light, in order to catch the light from the main and bounce it into the shadows in the face, the fill reflector position is more critical.
This is one big reason that we are using a 42" LiteDisc. The bigger the reflector, the bigger the surface that we have to position and catch the light.
Remember, the farther away from the main light the reflector is, the smaller it becomes.
In figure 10, you can see the original position of the LiteDisc when we didn't have the grids attached. The grids are now cutting off some of the light to the subject.
We moved the reflector slightly farther away from the model and more towards the background, until the light from our main light hit it and then we positioned the LiteDisc to fill in the shadows of the face and shoulder (figure 11).
Below is a comparison of the image shot with the main light and grids only (figure 12) and the image shot with the main light with grids and a white reflector on the right (figure 13).
As you can see in the results photo (figure 15), the portrait or interview has gone through a dramatic change from our first lighting set-up (figure 14).
For the last change in our lighting progression, we had our model bring her hair over her left shoulder and we reversed the LiteDisc from White to the Soft-Gold side for our fill light.
The soft gold surface gave us a warmer (more yellow) light to complement the color of the model's hair. The brighter metallic surface of the soft gold also gives the reflector a little more power as a fill, which allowed us to get a slightly brighter light into the shadows (figures 16 and 17).
Below, we show the progression of shots with the MovieDome as the main light:
- Main light only (no grids)
- Main light (no grids) and white reflector fill
- Main light only (with grids)
- Main light (with grids) and white reflector fill
- Main light (with grids) and soft gold reflector fill
When we compare the results of this lighting lesson progression, we can see that the resulting photos or video interviews are all great. There are no right or wrong images here, only choices.
Versatility is what we should want and expect from our lighting equipment, and that is precisely what we got.
Using the Medium MovieDome, the Starlite, and the 42" Soft-Gold/White LiteDisc together is an awesome and versatile combination.
When you combine the fact that the MovieDome not only works great with the Starlite, but you can also use a strobe, or a 3K or 5K hot light in the medium size, you realize that this is the most versatile soft box on the market.
As was mentioned above, the MovieDome is also versatile in its range of lighting sources it can be used with. You can use the 1000-watt Photoflex Starlite (figure 23), or up to a 5000-watt hot light (figure 24).