As a photographer, it is so important to ensure that you are using the correct lighting. If you are not using the best type of lighting, this will have a knock on effect on the photos you are shooting.
The majority of photographers will be familiar with softboxes. They are certainly a useful type of lighting to have, especially for studio photoshoots. However, gridded softboxes can be even more useful to use, especially if you are looking for softer lighting.
In this article, we will be discussing why you want to consider using a gridded softbox and how they can be useful in photography. We will also be discussing both its pros and cons, to give you a better understanding of whether it is a useful lighting option for you.
What Is A Softbox?
A softbox is a useful tool to consider. It helps to create softer lighting for videos and photos.
The softbox redirects the light in such a way that it is less harsh, and not focused on one place. It is ideal when you want to create lighting that looks more natural.
The softbox contains two aspects, the lamp and lightbulb, and the box itself.
The box is placed over the lighting fixture, and the translucent materials it is made out of diffuse the light. The materials used to cover the lamp are known as scattering materials.
The lighting created with a softbox is spread out evenly, which makes it a great option to consider when you need even lighting. Many softboxes allow you to control the brightness of the lighting to provide you with the most appropriate option.
What Is A Gridded Softbox?
A traditional softbox, as explained above, allows the lighting used to be scattered evenly across the area it is illuminating. However, using a gridded softbox changes this slightly.
Gridded boxes can sometimes be referred to as honeycomb boxes due to their shape, and a softbox can be purchased with the grid already placed over the front of it.
However, the majority of photographers will purchase the grid and softbox separately. This then allows you to have the option to use the grid, or remove it when you need to have more light focusing on the background of a shot. The grids are easy to apply to the front of the softbox.
Instead of the light being spread evenly across the shot, the grid, or honeycomb, diffuses it at a slightly different angle, allowing it to become more focused.
As the fabric used is gridded, you may assume that the lighting will appear uneven, but instead it will direct the light in a specific direction.
The great thing about using a gridded softbox is that it does allow you to have more control over manipulating the lighting and shadowing created. While the lighting created by a softbox is softer than using the lamp alone, it can still cause some glare within the photos.
By applying the grid layer, you are helping to diffuse the light further, and therefore the lighting is softer again. If you are looking to take portrait photos, and want the background of a shot to be more muted, the gridded softbox will help to draw the attention to the front subject instead.
Essentially the gridded softbox allows you to have the most control over how the lighting appears in your photographs. As the grids themselves are around 3 cm thick, the light can be channeled and focused particularly on specific areas, rather than being dispersed.
Why Use A Gridded Softbox?
Gridded softboxes are particularly useful to use if you are looking to maximize the amount of control you have over the lighting produced by a softbox. While standard softbox lighting can be adjusted, a gridded softbox allows you to have more options available.
If you want to create the best possible lighting for portrait shots, using a gridded softbox is recommended. The background lighting within the shot will be darker, and more shadowed, which allows the subject within the photograph to be the main focus.
When taking beauty shots, often a photographer will want to highlight the natural features of their model. By using a grid, emphasis can be placed on facial features, and allow them to be more effective.
If you need to create more contrast in an image, then you should use a grid over your softbox.
While the contrast of an image can be edited using software, it is best when you create this effect with the lighting from the softbox itself. The light can be channeled in a specific way so that it is more flattering and focused.
The Pros And Cons Of Using A Gridded Softbox
As with any type of lighting equipment, there are both pros and cons to consider. While a gridded softbox is a fantastic option to consider for some forms of photography, it can limit the photographer in some ways
- More Focused Light – As we have discussed, a gridded softbox allows you to focus and direct the light from a softbox in a specific direction. This is particularly useful when it comes to portrait shots, as it decreases the light that illuminates the background of a shot. Instead, the subject becomes the main focus of the photograph
- More Definition – As the light is more focused, more definition is brought to the subject. For example, with portrait photography, a person’s features will be more defined. The contrast is higher, and it will help to accentuate the jawline. If the main focus needs to be on a person’s face, it is useful to consider
- Better Control – The control you have of the lighting in photographs is far more defined when using a grid. You don’t have to worry about the light spilling, or being too bright. The lighting created mimics natural light well, and it is not too overpowering.
- Lighting Can Be Too Focused – While focused lighting is great, it is not always the best option to consider. For example, if you still want the background of a shot to be lit, rather than contrasted, using a softbox without the grid is the better option to choose. This allows you the freedom to have a more illuminated shot.
- Positioning Needed – When thinking about grids on softboxes, you need to take more care with the angle the lighting is placed at. If you choose the wrong angle, this will have an effect on how a photograph looks.
As a standard softbox will diffuse light to a wider area, you have more freedom over where it can be placed. However, the angle and height of a gridded softbox needs more consideration, and you need to educate yourself on the best angles to achieve the desired effect.
We hope you have found this article useful. As you can see, there are many great advantages to using a gridded softbox, especially if you are looking to take portrait photos. They help to mimic the appearance of natural light, and create a more focused illumination on the subject.
The contrast created is fantastic, and a grid is certainly an option a photographer should have available. However, in some instances, they are not always necessarily needed. For example, if you want a less focused light, and for the background to be well lit, a gridded softbox doesn’t need to be used.