Strobes direct light vs softbox or shoot through umbrella.

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
NikonNature Veteran Member • Posts: 4,350
Re: Strobes direct light vs softbox or shoot through umbrella.

Alexis Cantury wrote:

NikonNature wrote:

Alexis Cantury wrote:

Hello everyone. My question might sound simple but I would like to know if there is any drawback from using direct light in terms of color or any other technical issue against soft boxes and umbrellas.

I don't need any shadow on the products I'm shooting and I take them in a flat surface with more than 1 strobe light so my question goes to how does the color and or any other parameter might get affected?

I don't see any difference comparing the shoots from the direct light vs the other 2 (of course that I adjust the light so it have the same exposure for the sake of the comparison), but I want to know if there is anything that I'm missing, for example if editing later I will find any difference that I can't see at first glance.

I hope I made sense and thanks in advance for taking the time


Lighting is a huge topic. To try to simplify it, direct light makes your flash/strobe a small light source resulting in harsh light with sharp well-defined shadows. A modifier - umbrella, softbox, etc. - will turn it into a large light source, especially if positioned close to the subject.

With either one, if the light is positioned in front of the subject you will wash out any shadows and won't see much form or shape. If you move the light 45 degrees to the side, you get more shadows and shape, which is usually desirable. Many will use a second light on the opposite side set to a lower power to temper the shadows from the first (key) light. Many strobes or monolights have a modeling lamp that allow you to move the light around and see where highlights and shadows will fall.

Check out the Strobist website for lots of good information.

Hello and thanks for the time.

I have 4 35" octoboxes that I use with 4 godox sk400ii strobes. I want the end product to look without shadows and I point the 4 lights directly to the product in a top down fashion. I cut out any shadows and the background and edit that in photoshop. This is the end result I'm looking for.

I tested bare light against the modifiers (compensating so the exposure is the same or similar) and did not see a difference, except maybe not getting exactly the same light output but editing a bit of exposure got to the same result.

I just don't want to use the modifiers only because I bought them. I know I will make good use of them on others projects.

If I understood what you said is that if I point the lights (be it bare or with modifiers directly to the product, and if I adjust the output of the strobes then there would be no change, except maybe a bit more or less bright depending how fine tuned the adjustment is)?

I know it is not a typical setup up, but it is what the job requires so I just want to know that by no using any modifiers, I am not missing on any color different or any other technical aspect that I might regret down the round, as once I start taking, I do dozens of products at once and I can not then redo everything.

I hope I made sense and I'm looking forward to your reply if you have the time.

Thanks and cheers.

So from this and one of your other comments it sounds like you are doing clothing 'flats'. It is also worth pointing out that shadows and highlights will be present on the clothing - slight wrinkles, buttons, seems, etc. I think the shadows you are worried about the shadows from the garment that show on the background. The best way to deal with that is to have at least two lights coming from opposite sides. You said you have 4, so you can play with the remaining two to see if you can get even better results.

A quick search turned up this video that might give you some ideas. Basically, shooting straight down on your garment which is laying flat on a white background. Lights with softboxes (bare flash can work too, but a softbox will create soft even light) coming from above, but two opposing angles.

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