Using Softboxes to Create a Perfectly Even White Background
Many photographers use umbrellas when they need an even, white background. Now, there is nothing wrong with umbrellas but there are other, perhaps even more convenient solutions.
Let us start by looking at the image above (1) in this article. Or more precisely, let us take a closer look at the even, white background. This was not created with umbrellas but with two Profoto RFi 1×6’ strip softboxes. If we had used umbrellas, we might have needed three or even four of them. In addition, the light from the softboxes is easier to control, which means that we do not need any flags on our set. Some would also argue that the light from a softbox is more even than the light from an umbrella.
In addition to our strip softboxes, we used one Profoto RFi 3×4’ as our main light. The second image (2) shows the effect of just the RFi 3×4’. The image looks good in its own right, and this setup could very well be used for a traditional portrait. But if we are going for a more high-key fashion look, we are going to have to add more lights!
The third image (3) shows the effect of just the two strip softboxes hitting the background. The important thing to remember here is not to use too much power. If the background gets too bright, you will lose details in the hair, the fringe details will burn out and you will get a glowing effect around your model. That can, of course, be used in a creative way, but that is not what we are trying to do here. Here we set the background lights to about ¾ f-stop over our main light and kept the edge detail intact.
The fourth image (4) shows the effect of both the main light and the background lights. This is exactly the same setup that we used for our main image (1). As you can see, the background is as white and even as they come. Now, remember that we needed only three softboxes and about 16 ft wide space to do it all in. You could set up a shoot like this in an office, in a hotel lobby or even in your basement or garage!
In conclusion, with the right set of tools, you can create a high-key fashion look with just a few softboxes.
Here’s a look behind the scenes…