You may be familiar with a softbox as part of the basic studio photography setup but did you know that you can soften the light of softboxes even more?
If you attach a grid to a softbox, you can create a softer and more even light falling on your subject.
In this article, we take a look at the real differences between grid and no grid shots, and how to use this special piece of kit.
What’s A Softbox Grid?
A softbox is a lightbox that can be used in portrait, studio, and fashion photography to soften the harshness of direct sunlight or artificial lighting.
As part of the softbox, there is one tool that is often overlooked: the grid.
The grid system, which attaches to the softbox, allows you to control how much light comes into the box and where it goes.
This way, the professional photographer can restrict light and highlight certain areas of the subject.
Types Of Softbox Grids
Softboxes come in different sizes and shapes. The most common shape is rectangular. However, there are also round, square, octagonal, and triangular softboxes available.
You can find two basic types of grids to fit a softbox: hard and soft. Hard grids are made from metal and are usually attached to the front of the lightbox.
They are very rigid and can be difficult to manipulate when shooting portraits.
On the other hand, soft grids are flexible and easy to use. They are usually made from plastic, but they can also be found with metal parts.
The Differences Between A Softbox With A Grid And Without
Let’s explore some differences between using a softbox with and without a grid.
When using a softbox without a grid, the light will spread out as it passes through the translucent material. This means that all areas of your subject will receive some amount of light.
However, if you attach a grid to the back of the softbox, only the area covered by the grid will receive any light.
Full Light Control
If you want to achieve a more controlled lighting effect, then you should use a grid.
It gives you complete control over the light. You can place the grid anywhere on the softbox. If you need to change its position, just move it.
Another advantage of using a grid is that you don’t have to worry about shadows appearing under the subject’s chin or nose.
These shadows appear because the light source is directly above the subject. When you use a grid, the light spreads across your subject’s face evenly, so no shadow appears.
Because you can adjust the size of the grid openings, you can create interesting effects. For example, you could make the grid larger than the softbox opening.
In this case, your subject would look like he was floating in space. Or, you could make the openings smaller than the softbox. In this case, your subject may look more like a ghost.
Using a grid makes it easier for you to see what’s going on behind your subject.
For instance, if you’re photographing a wedding ceremony, you might not be able to see the bride and groom’s faces.
But when you use a grid, you’ll be able to see their expressions better. It also helps you get closer to them.
How To Use A Softbox Grid
If you decide to use a grid with your softbox light, here are the basic steps on how to set up the grid and use it for your photographs.
Pick The Type Of Grid
Before you set up your lighting gear, you need to decide whether you want to use a hard or soft grid for your softbox.
A hard grid is attached to the front of your softbox. It has small holes along its edges. These allow light to pass through. A hard grid is ideal when you want to create sharp images.
However, it doesn’t let you control the light. So, if you want to add highlights to your subject’s face, a hard grid isn’t for you.
On the other hand, a soft grid is flexible and can be moved around easily. It consists of small pieces of plastic that connect.
This type of grid allows you to control the light. But it isn’t as strong and durable as a hard grid. So, if you plan to shoot outdoors, where there’s lots of wind, you are better off with a hard grid.
Attach The Grid To The Softbox
Once you know what type of grid you want to use, you can attach it to the back of your softbox.
However, first, we need to take a test shot. Attach your chosen grid to the softbox. For most grids, this is done with Velcro (though this depends on the manufacturer).
Ensure that the grid fully covers the opening of the softbox. Then take a photo of yourself holding the softbox. Look at where the light falls onto your body.
The light should spread evenly across your body. If you’re having trouble getting the light to fall evenly, try moving the softbox around until you find the right spot.
Next, move the grid over the softbox. Make sure that the softbox lights evenly across your body. This will ensure that you get good-looking photos.
Use Your Grid
Now that you’ve tested out your setup, it’s time to start shooting!
Now, position your softbox so that the light hits your subject from the side. Then, turn on your flash and point it directly at your subject.
You don’t have to worry about the light hitting your subject directly. Your flash will fill in any shadows created by the softbox.
And because your grid blocks some of the light, you won’t have to worry about overexposing your subject.
You may even want to experiment with different types of grids. Some grids work best with certain types of lighting setups.
So, once you learn how to use your softbox with a grid, you’ll never go back to using one without it again.
A softbox grid can make a subtle difference to a photo, and it can give the photographer more control over where the light spreads over the subject.
As a grid for a softbox is such a specific piece of kit depending on your photoshoot setup, you will need to experiment and try it out for yourself.