Which do you find gives you better photos when shooting fashion in an indoor studio-- flash/strobes with umbrellas/etc, or several softboxes? I have shot limited fashion, pretty much outdoors in natural light, my indoor home studio photog has been mostly nudes. I want to do some indoor home studio fashion photog-- loaned my strobes to a friend (locally) so I can borrow those back, but I also have several nice softboxes I can use in place of strobes.
Feb 13 13 07:17 am Link
San Diego, California, US
Way, way too many variables here. Depends on how you want to light it, size of the room, how many shots, etc, etc. "Better" is relative.
Also, for "fashion" casting and styling is so much more important than that other stuff.
Feb 13 13 07:25 am Link
Los Angeles, California, US
It's called "creativity". You should try it sometime.
Feb 13 13 07:34 am Link
Colorado Springs, Colorado, US
Feb 13 13 07:44 am Link
San Antonio, Texas, US
Just my opinion, but I think a soft box gives better quality of light and is easier to modify than an umbrella. There is a reason softboxes cost 100's of dollars and umbrellas well below a hundred. In the studio I use softboxes and on location I typically use umbrellas.
And as other have said it depends on what you're creative vision is.
Feb 13 13 07:53 am Link
Washington, District of Columbia, US
In my humble estimation "better" is only relevant to the client's AD vision... personal taste matters little... yes I endeavor to maintain a consistent visual statement... but money talks, subjective BS walks...
Feb 13 13 07:57 am Link
Coconut Creek, Florida, US
I agree with prior reply that better is relevant, every scene is different.
As a general rule I try to use a soft light indoors. By that I mean always indirect, whether soft box, bounced off reflectors or bounced off the ceiling. I find it generally to harsh to use direct light from the heads indoors unless I want a stronger light from one side.
If you have natural light from one place u must fill the other direction to balance, that's the key to indoor work.
Feb 13 13 08:35 am Link
Plainview, Texas, US
All of the above. It depends on the mood you want to convey and what you are comfortable working with -- and sometimes on how much setup time you have or how much gear you are able to carry. Not to mention what the stuff costs.
Personally I use a Photek Softlighter a lot, though mostly as fill. On location I like shoot-through umbrellas but in the studio lean toward a white beauty dish. I love to work with nice window light when I get the chance, but that's only a few times a year.
A couple of weeks ago I watched a friend do a fashion shoot with nothing but the 8-inch standard reflector that came with the monolight - a one-light setup. I wouldn't have tried it, but she nailed it and got the look she wanted.
I'd like to have a really big softbox - say 4x6 feet - since I mostly do studio setups on location I'd never have a chance to use it.
Work backwards - visualize the look you want, then figure out how to get it.
Feb 13 13 08:51 am Link
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
It really depends on the style of your own photography and the vision you want to bring to the final image.
Check out this photographer's blog to see a number of different styles from large single light sources, bare bulb, strictly gridded light sources to natural light.
You often hear about photographer's having a distinct style. You need to workout what your particular vision is and you do that by playing.
Herb Ritts and Tim Cook were/are natural light photographers.
Patrick Demarchelier typically uses one big light (Octabox or Softbox).
Terry Richardson uses simple on-camera flash.
Sometimes the choice between umbrella, octabox or softbox comes down to simply a choice of what the desired catchlight is in the model's eyes.
Feb 13 13 09:31 am Link
Thank you all.
I am going to use my large softboxes then, let my friend hand on to the strobes I loaned him. I had used my strobes before for nudes to get the pitch black bg, but now I want to explore fashion photog, so I think using the natural lighting coming into my home studio combined with softboxes and perhaps my speedlite flash if needed.
Feb 13 13 01:20 pm Link
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
I prefer softboxes (especially octagonals) over umbrellas due to being more controllable, durable and producing a nicer looking catchlight. Things do depend on what you are shooting and the effect your after.
Feb 13 13 02:32 pm Link
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
kinda/sorta confused about the OPs use of terminology. strobes/softboxes is not an either/or.
softboxes do not provide light. they modify light. strobes provide light.
Feb 13 13 03:06 pm Link
AVD AlphaDuctions wrote:
Sorry for not using correct terminology. By softboxes I meant continous light with the softboxes on them, as in 500W bulbs encased in the softboxes (velcro and translucent wraps etc). Strobes, flash units that I typically use with umbrellas.
Feb 13 13 03:09 pm Link
Bath, England, United Kingdom
You can't shoot fashion with continuous lights - fashion models will be confused by the lack of flashes and won't know when to change pose.
Also, loud rock music is essential, and of course a Hasselblad.
Just my $0.02
Feb 13 13 03:12 pm Link
Bristol, England, United Kingdom
Horses for courses, but if I had to choose between the two, I'd get a softbox of course and make barn doors and honeycombs and make different screens for the softbox. Massively more useful tool perhaps.
I do use tungsten or other lights as fill lights, often, but I wouldn't use them with a softbox, or umbrella to be honest.
The best softbox is clouds.
Feb 13 13 03:17 pm Link
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Ahhh, old school humour.
Feb 13 13 03:23 pm Link
Bath, England, United Kingdom
Herman Surkis wrote:
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
What is going on out there?
2 Brits with a sense of humour on the same day, in the same thread?
Dallas, Texas, US
Kind of an oddball thread... I've shot commercial fashion with tungsten, with HIDs and flos, with strobes. I've used striplights, umbrellas, grid heads, fresnels. I've made giant softboxes 9' x 9' from conduit, white fabric and black felt. I've shot 320 tungsten pushed 3 stops with a mix of hot lights and strobes with full CTO. I've done shots I love with one head bouncing off a strip of foamcore. I've shot models with DSLRs and 4x5 view cameras. When everyone was shooting soft-soft-soft, I did nothing but 11" reflectors with grids (which look awesome on good skin). I've shot strobes on the front and tungsten behind with half-second shutter speeds and blurred stuff out like crazy.
It really depends on the quality of light and the final image you want. Figure out what you see in your head (or in a magazine or whatever) and find a roadmap to get there. Amazing work has been done with 1 or 2 fresnels and a view camera (google up some hollywood golden age images).
The best technical advice I can give you is get lights that can be aimed and modified to do what you want - it's really hard to do this with a handful of shoe-mount flashes (but I bet people have done amazing work with those). Bounce, diffusion, flags and reflectors - along with some control of the size of the source - and decent stands and grip heads/arms will let you dial in a look you want with less frustration.
Feb 13 13 04:03 pm Link