A&P So I made a softbox...

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by redna, Aug 9, 2006.

  1. redna

    redna New Member

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    I've been trying to take some headshots of myself and I've been in need of another light. The problem with this is that I'm piss poor broke (the reason I'm not just paying for headshots) so i decided to make my own softbox...

    Let me preface this by saying that i know i could have just done this with a few pieces of foamboard and a lamp kit, it probably would have been cheaper, but i didnt want to have to find a place to store something that large. With that in mind, i decided to build something i could break down when i needed to... hence my plans.

    Onto the tutorial, kinda.

    Materials I used:

    Ouside flood light kit - 9.97
    Replacement tent pole kit - 5.47
    Black Duct tape - .97
    White material i found at wal mart - 1.00 (1 yard)
    Black wal mart material - 4.00 (2 yards)
    5/16 wooden dowl - .39
    20 foot extension chord - 5.97
    Heavy duty male universal plug - 1.97
    Grommet Kit for making tarps and such - 6.97 (included tools)

    Note: I didnt use everything in this pic, i thought I'd have to, so there are some extras pictured.
    [​IMG]

    First order of business was to get the tent poles put into the flood light housing... To do this, i just stuck them in in a tic tac toe pattern putting the fiberglass end in and leaving the metal part out. I tried to use conduit holders but they bent. I weaved the poles when i put them into the box (over one, under the back) to give it a little more stability.

    Once I had the poles laying in there I bent them to what I deemed an appropriate angle. what do i know though, this is my first time donig this.. .
    [​IMG]


    As you can see, I used some duct tape to keep them in line so i could get measurements. Mine measured 34" diagonally and 25" around the edges. It's a 25" square.

    Next, (once i had teh measurements) I cut out a square of my white fabric. Actually I cut 2 ssquares simultaneously. I didnt think it was diffused enough. In retrospect, i would have only used one sheet.
    [​IMG]

    After that i taped the edges of the material with duct tape to give it a little strength. I used 1/2 the width of the duct tape on each side so that it kept the 2 sheets together nicely.
    [​IMG]

    Once i had all 4 sides done, i went back over it on one side with a full width of duct tape to finish it off and make it look good.

    The next step was to put gromments in each corner with my trusty tool kit. The kit includes everything but the hammer
    [​IMG]

    Finished with the front panel. My theory here is that the gromments are going to hold dowels coming out of the tent poles and keep everything square.
    [​IMG]

    Close up on the gromment. They're the standard thign you'd see on a tarp
    [​IMG]

    Now, i cut a 5/16 dowel into 4 pieces about 5" in length and put them into the metal ends of the tent poles. Generally, this is where you'd put the other pole to extend it through the tent.

    Once that was done, i threaded the dowls through each of the gromments and then cut the duct tape off to test my theory on it holding together... It seemed to work great.
    [​IMG]
    **NOTE** you can see in the picture above how the tent poles were arranged in the housing.

    [​IMG]



    This is a pic of it at this point with a regular incadecent bulb installed and a horrible white balance setting on my camera...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    This part is easily the hardest part of the whole process.... making the sheath that conceils the rest of the light!

    I can't sew for crap, so i elected to use mroe duct tape. You will without a doubt, get a better result with a sewn canopy but like i said.... i can't sew.

    Basically what i did was cut 4 trapezoids and taped them together... haha. I know that it's ghetto, and I'm working on a better solution because this one isn't cutting it for me. I think I'll have my grandma sew me a sheath.
    [​IMG]

    To attach the canopy to the frame i extended 4 tabs of duct tape off of each intersection of cloth and put another gromment in. This way i could stretch the gromment over teh frame and thread the forward facing dowl into the gromment and it would be stable.

    My craftsmanship on this portion was less than perfect. It was 3:15 AM and I was tired. I'll be redoing this to make it fit better (apparently my forward measurements were off by about an inch). There are currently some light leaks, but that can be fixed with some velcrow for the time being until i get my new sheath.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. CowboysJunkie

    CowboysJunkie Active Member

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    I know shit about softboxes and the requirements for lighting with them, but what you've done is very nice. Good work. :)
     
  3. you have a nice idea but you're going about it a bit wrong. You need a reflective surface on the inside of the black canopy, also the black canopy should be thicker so that no light could escape.. Looks good though!
     
  4. redna

    redna New Member

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    Haha.. I'm right there with you :big grin:

    Thanks!
     
  5. redna

    redna New Member

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    Yeah i noticed that today when i looked at the pics. I'm thinking about putting some white poster board in there as a temporary fix and maybe when i get my canopy sewed up I'll just line it with a reflective white cloth on the inside.
     
  6. I was thinking more along the lines of a car windshield sun reflector. Go buy one of them and cut it up to fit inside your softbox for the win! Hold up I'll take some pics of mine so you can get some more ideas. :hsd:
     
  7. I just got done packing my softbox up for tomorrow but here's some pics of the octabox which is pretty much the same thing.

    [​IMG]

    notice how thick the outer cover is, there's no way light's getting through this!!
    [​IMG]

    here's a view of the inside. Notice the windshield sun reflector type material on the inside. You could probably also use aluminum foil inside your softbox but I don't know if that's good to put metal next to electric. The little white piece is the primary diffuser.
    [​IMG]

    and here's a fully exposed view of the bulb and speedring
    [​IMG]
     
  8. redna

    redna New Member

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    Very cool! Thanks for the inside shots. I've never really looked at one that closely. This has given me some good ideas for improvements :big grin:
     
  9. f/2.8L

    f/2.8L New Member

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    Awesome work, it looks like you're well on your way. Keep at it and post your end results along with a sample pic!
     
  10. SpiderOnTheFloor

    SpiderOnTheFloor New Member

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  11. mojito

    mojito New Member

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    use foil on the inside

    nice, but they work best when their really BIG


    seriously, the bigger the soft box, the better generally. don't be affraid to get it right onto the subject either, just out of frame
     
  12. redna

    redna New Member

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    sorry it's taking me so long to get some shots done... I've been burning the candle at both ends the last 2 days trying to get some work handled. I'll do my best to get some pics taken tomorrow, or at least by the weekend.

    Apparently some other people thought it was a good idea too. I posted it on http://www.instructables.com and MAKE magazine picked it up for one of their blogs.

    http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2006/08/diy_softbox.html

    In other news, I went down to Wal Mart and got a few windshield shades that I'm going to butcher and put into the frame for teh reflective material. They should work really well, I tested them with normal light and they're VERY reflective. Easily as reflective as tin foil.
     
  13. redna

    redna New Member

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    I'm thinking about doing another one using another set of tent poles. I think this would give me a huge size increase. That will have to wait until my schedule clears a little. To tell you the truth, i figured I'd get more space than i did out of this current design otherwise i would have just done it like that in the first place...
     

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