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Is the soft box large enough?

SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
edited July 2014 in home
Hi, Wondering what you all think. I have a photo of 12 relatives coming up at the beach. Usually, I just use ambient with a Sto-Fen topped flash. The diffused flash is for fill and catchlights. The wind has always been my biggest obstacle to using umbrellas at the beach. But the Sto-Fen flash is so small. So, I will have an assistant with me and I'm wondering if my Photoflex XS octobox here -- looks to be about 18 inches across -- will do the trick if held up high on monopod. Will the light spread enough? Ordinarily with this size group a larger light source/softbox would be called for but given the limitations of the beach this would be more manageable and maybe enough to augment the natural light? Of course I do not what to risk unevenly lighting the group. I am wondering if, despite its tiny size, the Sto-Fen has better spread given that it has no sides. It's all one translucent 360 cap. It's either this or the Sto-Fen or setting up medium sized umbrella with shoot-into flash and assistant holding it, all on light stand. Not at all easy at the beach. Thanks.



  • SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
    edited July 2014
    The other option is a Flashbender. This fits onto flash with Velcro and those slanty raised lines are wires so you can bend it. This kicks out a lot of light. This is about 9 inches square.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2014
    My question would be, how are you going to actually light them up on the beach and in what aspect do you want the flash to work.

    Shooting against the sun? That will not have enough power for a speedlight or just want fill light.

    I have a Norman 19" Octagonal Softbox | LINK which originally fit over my Quantum Heads, but it also fits my Cheetah and is about same size as yours, and it will light up a group of around that many evenly but you have to have it back a bit, around 3-4 meters, but I can shoot against the sun (not directly as in sun is still behind them but high in sky out of shot).

  • Thanks Trev, Hmmmm.

    Depends what I'm faced with. I doubt I'll be using the flash to light the group, I'm hoping it will be fill. If it's sunny and I can't hold them off until later (doing the smaller shots til the end), I'll have to have sun behind them. If it's overcast I'll be in good shape with ambient and fill (but what light modifier). If I need to overpower the sun I think I may not be able to do it with speed lights since I'll need a pretty good aperture with 12 people. So I don't know what I'm going to be confronted with but I am wondering if folks here think that in all scenarios would the octobox be better than the Sto-Fen?

    Thanks again.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2014
    Yep, it would be better.

    Now, if push comes to shove, and you cannot get enough light, that octobox is still a pretty small light source, (but double the size of that Sto-Fen) so you would not have anything to lose and all to gain by removing the front diffuser and if the inside is silver lined you will get more power, though a bit harsher, at least you could light them up better.

    Remember, it takes a fairly large softbox anyway, or one that has been moved very close to really soften the light.

    On occasion I have been faced with not enough light, and removing the softbox front diffuser panel gave me 1/2 stop extra power which is better than not enough, especially if you have to move it back to accommodate lighting a large group.

  • Thanks Trev, removing the front is great idea if need be. Also, there is inner baffle diffuser that can be removed, which might be good idea too. The lining is indeed silver.

    The octobox is much larger than the puny Sto-Fen but the light shoots out the front only whereas the light shoots out from Sto-Fen in every direction, since I keep it straight up. So, would light spread broader with Sto-Fen?
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Still better off with the bigger one and you will be surprised how wide it spreads anyway if you move it back.

    If you look at that link I gave above, that's what it looks like and it does indeed spread pretty wide, much better than you might think.

  • Thx Trev, that's reassuring. I didn't see that link before, thx, I'll take a look.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2014

    I was editing my last wedding when I saw this shot and it will demonstrate to you the expanse of that 19" softbox spread.

    Admittedly this was shot at ISO 1250, Shutter 250th, f5.6 (it was dark in there and the ambient was still around 1 stop under) but the thing is you can see the light from the softbox spread right out evenly from top to bottom and it was around 3-4 meters back, the diffuser was in of course as at those settings I had a tremendous amount of flash power in reserve, but the principle is the same with light spread.

    This couple owned the cattle property and these were the old yards built by his great grandfather over 100 years ago, and used to sort the cattle.

    This was my Cheetah 360/softbox and from memory was around 1/32nd power, or below, but it does show the light spread great top to bottom just by looking at the shadows cast on the branch behind from the branch in front at the top.

  • Thanks Trev, yes, wow, that is a good illustration of the light spread. Thank you. This reminds me of another concern, shadows. But that's issue with any light source. I will need to have light up high at angle and position everyone so that they do not cast a shadow on neighbor. Great lack of grain for 1250!

    Looks like a beautiful location by the way.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    The Flashbender won't be efficient. You're bouncing flash into it?

    The softbox will be the better option. If you keep it at a distance (which you will have to figure out), then the spread of light will be fairly even on the group. Of course, the further you keep it, the less light you have. But as Trev showed, the light spread can be surprisingly wide.
  • Thanks Neil. Yes, I've been using the Flashbender a little bit, bending it so that it picks up the light from the flash and directs the light. Even if you don't bend it it picks up a lot of light and throws it forward. I haven't gotten to where I'm comfortable with it or confident of what the light's going to do.

    Trev: One vote for the octobox
    Neil: One vote for the octobox.

    The octobox it is! Up on a monopod. Now let's just hope those Pocket Wizards get along out there in the wind.

    Thanks again.
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