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Bounce or Softbox (which is better)?

I'll be going to a very large room with very high ceilings for upcoming Christmas party. I want to use my new 24 x 24" softbox for the first time. It will be very dim lighting. I'm sure I can get enough light by bouncing off nearby tables etc, but how does a softbox fit into these type of senarios?     Planning on using it mainly for some head and shoulder shots, but is their an advantage to using a softbox for this when i can be using bounce instead? I know bouncing will illuminate the background more. But the light itself on the subject---any significant differences here?


  • You'll certainly get more shape and direction from a softbox, off to a side as a main light. It will need to be fairly close in order to be nice and soft, so you may have to bring people over to it.

    Why not have another on -camera flash bounced, perhaps with a dome -type diffuser, as a fill light? I often use this configuration with my Gary Fong lightsphere angled up and sideways as it adds a little front fill also. Keeping the ratio at around 2/3 for the softbox and 1/3 for the bounced fill should provide a nice effect.
  • Thanks McGreg. It will be a fast paced situation. I plan to use the softbox for some formal portaits only. And use the TTL bounce for the rest. My OCF is manual and no one (except me) has the time or patience to be waiting for me to adjust settings. I think it's the best comprimise. I do plan to use an on camera bounce along with the softbox as a backlight (using a blue gel) for the "finally" of a very large group photo.
  • McGregNiMcGregNi Member
    edited November 2015
    Sounds like a good plan ... Have the manual flash preset in the softbox ready for the formal shots, and use your on-camera one bounced when moving around. I use both because I like a side-lit effect from the softbox, and assuming your ambient exposure is very dim, then this can leave deep shadows on the off-side of the subjects.

    So the bounced fill with Lightsphere adds what's needed coming from the other side and front. But I make sure the softbox remains the stronger light. I can do this with automatic exposures and a ratio set between the flashes, or manually.

    Does your on camera flash trigger the off-camera one if needed?
  • Sounds like you're pretty familiar with all this. I'd like to be more elaborate like your saying. But like i said, everything is so faced paced.
    I'm thinking though, that if i were to do those special couple portraits ONLY with the softbox, that i could possibly use a SET distance to the subjects, which might eleviate alot of figuring each time with settings.
    I use a pocket wizard to trigger my off camera flash (softbox).   If i were to do this, I'd have to experiment a little at home about the ratios because, you have the sofbox cutting down some light inside it and it's basically not a simple matter of mathmatics here.

    Stepping back here, again it's time consuming because I have to 1. replace my on-camera flash with a P.Wizard. 2. put a hot shoe on my flash unit (the one that will go on the camera bracket..the hot shoe in turn..goes onto the bracket. (in other words, it wouldn't be so bad if i just needed to put the flash unit quickly onto the bracket, but i have to fit a hotshoe on the bottom of it first............then...goes onto the bracket. 3. I have to set the manual flash of it to correct flash output. 

    Sounds fast, but imagine in a party setting...that would seem forever while they wait for me.     
    I think using the softbox alone will do it. I had for a long time, been placing it too much like Rembrant lighting. Then, i found out that Neil among others say to use about 30 degrees from camera axis, and about 30 degrees up above subject level. That should provide a good amount of light on the "shadow side" of subject.
  • McGregNiMcGregNi Member
    edited November 2015
    Ha! Yes, it's easy to SOUND like I know all about it! I haven't done this sort of mixed approach in a large event situation, only really when there's time to get people into position.

    I'm also using proprietary system flash, with optical triggering, so I can just switch on the slave unit when its needed, and leave it off when moving around.

    I understand that you want to stick with one flash at a time ... Maybe the pocketwizard can fit under your on -camera flash in order to avoid any fiddling around putting it on? You could just switch off the on-camera flash when starting to use the softbox one ?

    I'm sure that advice about the 30deg will be fine. Maybe you could push your exposure time longer just to get a bit more ambient light in, which might help with the shadow side of the subjects .....
  • I use a rubber band to always have the pocket wizard on that flash...even when i'm using it as regular TTL on camera. Its the little hotshoe (attached between it and the P.W. that is the time consumer.
    Also, about the 30 degree thing...i've also understand that a person should slightly turn the head towards the light (short lighting). This will also automatically keep the shadow side of the face from not even ocurring or minimizing at least.  I've narrowed everything down as much as i can and this is the best setup i can think of.
  • I'll be using the TTL bounce like i said alot, and when I'm going around to people's tables while they're sitting (letting my wife do that part ..i don't like doing that), i'll put on a 8" softbox ON camera for that. So, that's another good way for that particular situation since bouncing across that room for that isn't going to be very feasible. (mainly best for groups shots)
    1. Softbox for couples
    2. Bounce for small groups
    3. Small softbox on camera for direct flash of people at tables.
  • Sounds like you're ready to go! Maybe we could see some pics when its done .... Good luck with the event.
  • Here's some of the best one from the party. TOO MUCH using that manual off camera softbox! I had to continually adjust exposure and about 4 different switches checks (two flashes and two P.Wizards). But did use it still on some shots (such as backlight).
    I'll be using just regular bounce flash with one unit from now on. Might reserves a large group shot (as shown) for the off camera setup but that's it.
    I think a softbox is mainly best to be used outdoors where you do not usually have any surfaces available to bounce off of.
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