Whats left to buy

Started Dec 31, 2002 | Discussions thread
Derrel Veteran Member • Posts: 4,334
DIY softbox fun project


Dude! You're going to build some lighting equipment! Now that's the spirit! There's nothing like a DIY project, and I think it'd be cool if you'd keep us updated when you get something together using whatever bulb/lamp/diffusion system you come up with.

I know this might sound crazy, but....I made a few small softboxes in the 1980's using those $2.99 styrofoam ice chests. I cut a small hole on the bottom to fit my Vivitar 285's....lined the box with foil (thumb-tacked sheets of it,removable) put a sheet of diffusion material on the top with some thumbtacks...presto....I had a small softbox that weighed about 2 ounces. Literally, maybe two ounces.I put the flash on an umbrella/swivel adapter so it would fit on a light stand,and would be able to be tilted.

Styrofoam ice chests are a fairly standard item at every K-Mart,Target,and variety store in North America. The "big size" is pretty standard. You can laugh, but these small boxes if covered with rip-stop nylon fronts and lined with foil will give pretty even,nice, "professional" lighting on small table-top sets or one-person portraits.

The mini-styrofoam coolers,used for keeping one six-pack of 12 ounce cans cool...there's your ultra-portable softbox. Cost? About $1.99. These are about 8x10 inches or smaller. Portable.Disposable. Fun. It will work on-camera on a Stroboframe or other bracket. Just like the $100 Mini-Apollo. Only $1.99.

My project was derived from the 1980's DIY method of making a softbox out of precisely-cut Foam-Cor board sections,held together with tape. With a good pattern, a guy could make a pretty nice softbox,quite large, with four full-sized sheets.The problem though was making the flash mount. I figured with styrofoam, the "grippiness" of a tight press-fit would hold the box on almost any flash....and it does!

For SMALL, table-top type work, like photos of fly tying, stamps,coins,jewelry, the huge advantage is that these syrofoam cooler softboxes are SMALL enough that you can work on a small table,and still bring in 2 or 3 lights, and have plenty of room to work in. They're actually kinda' cool. Ugly, but cute,if you know what I mean.

Heck, you can even make a louvre set--out of cardboard strips! This is a fun project for the kiddies, or for starving college-age photographers. I know ripstop and fiberglass rods and a speedring makes a "real" softbox, but....in the mid-80's we didn't have access to inexpensive,good stuff like Photoflex boxes, and most softboxes were relatively more-costly then than nowadays.

Happy Shooting!

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