Photography #1: Soft Box 1

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by dakremer posted 12-29-2013 06:04 AM 2835 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Photography series Part 2: Soft Box 2 »

My wife and I have been getting into photography after buying the new Canon 70D. My wife would like to start taking more portraits (after being asked by several coworkers to take pics of their kids, etc). Since we don’t have a studio, and our apartment’s lighting is subpar for great picture quality, I decided to look into buying some Soft Boxes.

Here is an example of a soft box (from google pictures)....

I know you can buy some online for pretty cheap (but I’m sure they’re just that…cheap). I did some research online and decided to try to build one myself. Mostly for the fun of it.

So the journey begins….

I started by making the lighting component first. There are endless ways to do this, however I just used what I had on hand….

The box is 5” x 5” and will have 4 lights coming out at 10 degree angles from each other (towards the corners of the box)

I used a small drill bit to help set up my guides, so my Forstner Bit would be lined up accurately….

I then installed the sockets, finished the box, and wired the sockets to the extension cord…..

This is all pretty rough so far. I still have to sand it all down, and paint it black. I really just threw it together pretty quickly. I don’t want to waste the time making the wooden box really nice just in case I can’t get the rest of it to work for me. If the rest of it turns out nice, I’ll probably remake the box a little nicer. The steps will be pretty similar.

The next step will be making the actual soft box skin (the hard part). Stay tuned!!...

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

12 comments so far

View CFrye's profile


11410 posts in 3182 days

#1 posted 12-29-2013 08:51 AM

Great start dakremer! The CFB’s will not get hot like incandesant or halogen lights. I have wondered in the past about using the flexible tent poles for the frame of a soft box. Looking forward to what you come up with.

-- God bless, Candy

View jim65's profile


1021 posts in 3276 days

#2 posted 12-29-2013 08:52 AM

looking forward to updates, I am doing something similar but not making the lights. Yours looks interesting!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2972 days

#3 posted 12-29-2013 11:40 AM

The biggest problem that I’ve had with low-end commercial lighting is rickety tripods. Otherwise, they’re great. I’ve been correcting the tipping problem by hanging ½-gallon jugs at the leg/strut intersections with bungee cords and filling them with water. It seems to be a more practical solution than overbuilding a custom tripod. I use the same ballast “system” for my camera tripod. Sandbags are also a cure for the tippy blues when the struts are close to the floor.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 4018 days

#4 posted 12-29-2013 11:55 AM

Nice “down & dirty” light box build!
Looking forward to future build updates.

I’m curious, what is the color temp of your CFLs???

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5225 days

#5 posted 12-29-2013 01:08 PM

My thought too was color balance. Also having the bulbs bright enough.
I have bought some from CowboyStudio. They sell them through Amazon.
Go to Amazon and search CowboyStudio CFL. They have different “wattage” outputs.
You want something that has 5500K Color Temperature for Photography.
They can get physically large, so take that into account.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View tyvekboy's profile


2153 posts in 4356 days

#6 posted 12-29-2013 02:25 PM

The only concern that I have is that all the wiring is in a wooden box. Would be better if there was a metal junction box where all the wires were joined. Also, using CFLs could be a bio-hazard if the rig fell over and broke the bulbs. I wonder if halogen bulbs would work better.

Other than those concerns, it looks good.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Bsmith's profile


330 posts in 4013 days

#7 posted 12-29-2013 03:07 PM

What Spalm said. Fluorescent bulbs give off a green cast and are worse for portrait photography because they emmit a green cast. Incandescent works better, but a very warm cast, they get hot and you’ll need more power like floods. I would make the box, but if at all possible put a flash in the box. They are color balance, don’t get too hot and produce enough power to photograph a moving baby. Hope this helps.

-- Bryan

View dakremer's profile


2771 posts in 4434 days

#8 posted 12-29-2013 03:53 PM

DIYaholic – the color temperature of my lights are 3500K, which is right in the white zone. I purchased them at Lowes for about $9.00 for a box of 4. They are 23W each (equivalent to 100W each). So thats 400watts of light – should be enough

Spalm – Lowes actually sold 5000K bulbs for a few bucks more than the 3500K bulbs. I went with the 3500 because I’m trying to be as cheap as possible until i know this will work or not. However I think the 3500 will be just fine – 3500K lights emit a bright white color – right in the middle between orange and blue.

tyvekboy – I thought about the wooden box being dangerous as well. This is just my mock up, so I’m not too concerned about it. If it all works out, I’ll glue a fire resistant barrier inside the box before wiring it all up. Also, this lightbox will be used probably only a few times a month, for an hour or so at a time, and will never be left alone while plugged in – so I’m not really actually that worried about it.

Bsmith – we have not purchased a speedlight for our camera yet. When we buy one, we want to buy a really good one, and at this point we don’t want to spend that kind of money yet. I think I will actually prefer continuous lighting over a speedlight anyways. However a speedlight, in addition to 2 continuous softboxes, would be great! Some day

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3882 days

#9 posted 12-29-2013 05:03 PM

Looks like a great idea. Look forward to seeing it complete.

-- I never finish anyth

View oldnovice's profile


7769 posts in 4710 days

#10 posted 12-29-2013 08:46 PM

I have to echo tyvekboy’s comment about CFLs!

I am switching all my CFLs and tube type flourescents to LED just for that reason. I started in the house in lamps that the grand kids can reach but couldn’t wait for my shop so I have one installed there. Besides the mercury in the CFLs/flourescents there is a possibility of a cut from the glass which, because of the coating on the interior, can be very bad and difficult to heal.

LEDs also have a life of ~25 years, run cool to the touch, fit into the standard sockets, and are dimmable!

If LEDs are out if the question I would go with halogen ... but they really put out the heat!

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4574 days

#11 posted 12-29-2013 08:54 PM

I don’t think those 4 bulbs will supply enough light to be diffused through the soft box, yet still provide enough light to allow the lens to be stopped down to control the depth of field and still have a shutter speed fast enough to freeze any movement by the subject.

Good luck with your project. It looks good so far.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View dakremer's profile


2771 posts in 4434 days

#12 posted 12-30-2013 12:22 AM

MT. lots of these cheap soft boxes you can buy only have 300-350watts. Mine has 400w. Each bulb has 1600 lumens. It should be plenty. Maybe not for a professional studio, but for our purposes it’ll be enough. If not, I’ll get brighter ones.

I’m not too worried about the safety of the CFL lights. The risk is small in my situation.

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics