Laws of Light: How to Set and Place Your Softbox

On this video, part of a series “laws of light” by photographer Jay P. Morgan from the Slanted Lens we look at different aspects of using softboxes – how to place them and different tips that can help you get the most out of them.

Softboxes are great, they come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and can create a host of different lighting types but there are a number of things you need to be aware of if you are going to use them in a proper way. On this video Morgan talks about 5 main points:

  • Horizontal or Vertical – softbox has a round area of coverage so it makes no difference if it is horizontal or vertical when it comes to total coverage area. However, what does change is what the softbox can see on the subject matter.  If you want to fill on the shadow side, you want your box to be horizontal because the left side of the softbox can see the subject’s face (and you can, of course, fill in the other side with a bounce or a second light).
  • How to Setup a Softbox – Most people just set up a softbox and aim it directly at their subject – that can work but there are other ways of using a softbox and you can do a lot by feathering the softbox. , so that it’s light will hit the subject only on the edges  – you can do that by raising your sofbox or tilting it – play with it and see what it can do.
  • Using a Grid – a grid is another useful way of controlling the light – you can focus the light on your subject and restrict the spill to the background.
  • No Grid of Diffuser – If you want the strongest (and hardest) light, remove the grid and the softbox diffuser fabric – you can use it in an indirect way to bounce or feather the light as needed.
  • Small vs. large Soft Box – small is harder, larger is softer. In more detail – using a larger softbox means that at the point of origin covers a wider area. At 6-8 ft (2-3m), the small and large softbox will cover the same amount of surface area on a subject. The smaller softbox doesn’t see into the shadows as much, so the light is going to be harsher.

You can check out the rest of the Laws of Light videos we published in the past from this series on this link.

You can find a lot more lighting tutorials on our photography lighting section here on LensVid, and you can find all of Jay P. Morgan’s videos here on LensVid on the following link.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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