Custom Light Manipulation – DIY Soft-Box Covers for your Studio Strobes

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Side by Side Long Box Vertical Strip & Short Box Octagon
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Side View of the Short Box Vertical Strip

Here’s a quick & easy way to make your own soft-box covers to narrow or shape the light from your soft-box panels. It only takes 10-30 minutes, depending on what shapes you’re making, and only costs anywhere from $12-25, depending on if you already have Gaffers Tape & Elastic Banding etc.

I had two extra soft-boxes from a set of now-useless 220v lights that don’t work in America that I used to make an alternate set of soft boxes for my Primary Studio Strobe Flashes. You can get a second set of Soft-boxes to do this with or just set them up on your existing strobes each time you want to use them. They’re easy to set up in just a few minutes once you have them made, and are completely non-destructive so you can move things around between setups etc.

The set of soft-boxes that came with my current strobe are 30×24″, and the set I have from overseas from before are & 36×26″

I left one of each one for the full strobe box, and took one of each to darken down. The taller one I made a narrow strip light from top to bottom of the box & the smaller one I made a smaller Octagon in the center of the box.

Things you need:

  • A two-panel set of Black-Out Curtains (completely Black-out, must say black-out on the package, not Room Darkening) that have a Rod Pocket (not the Grommet style). Don’t get the ones that go to the floor, just the shorter panels you use to darken your house windows. I think they were around 36″w x around 60″ long, I got them from Walmart, I think they were Eclipse Brand. You’ll use one panel per soft box. (around $12-15)
  • Some thin Fabric Elastic Banding for Sewing, 1/4″ wide, about 3 yards worth maybe (around $2-5)
  • Some Fabric Scissors
  • A Sewing Measuring Tape (if you’re making shapes other than strips)
  • Sewing Chalk (for marking shapes & lines)
  • A piece of wire, a wire hanger, a wooden rod or something to thread the elastic through the Curtain’s Rod Pocket
  • Black Gaffers Tape (around $15-20)

Method:

  • Make Sure your Soft-boxes are fully assembled, with Diffusers in place.
  • Thread the elastic banding through the Rod Pocket and pull it through so there’s about a foot coming out the other side.
  •  Lay the Curtain panel on the soft box, centered from side to side equally, and with the rod pocket just folded over the top side, so the all the extra curtain is hanging off the bottom side.
  • Cut the bottom off about 9″ past the soft box
  • Pick up a bottom corner and tie it in a knot over itself so it just fits snugly around the bottom corner with the top still in place. Repeat with the other bottom corner.
  • Pull the Elastic fairly tightly down from the top and around the bottom corners, above the two bottom knots, and tie the two ends of the elastic together in the center of the bottom, tight enough to hold the panel in place well.
  • Measure & Draw your cutting lines with the chalk, about 2cm larger than you want the light to come through
  • Pinch the center of the shape up with your fingers and snip it with the scissors
  • Cut out the Shape
  • Tape the cut edges tightly against the Diffuser Panel with the Gaffers Tape
  • Done

Repeat with the other soft boxes, in whatever shapes you like.

Save the bottom part of the panels that you cut off to close up the opening later if you want to cover part of the opening to change the shape or limit the light coming through later. You just need to stick it in place with Gaffers Tape. You can just let the extra fabric hang, or trim it off.

For Gels, you can just Gaffers Tape them over the opening, or even mix colors over different parts, etc

 

 

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