As an attempt to save some money and add some more light modifiers in my studio, (and to possibly win a contest) I decided to create a softbox for my flash. I wanted something sort of small with the ability to fold up and travel easily. I think I succeeded pretty well. But let me know what you think. On with the tutorial….
First I needed something to mount the flash in. After looking around the hardware store for a bit. I decided on a basic plastic electrical outlet box for about 20 cents. This ended up working perfectly as my Vivitar flash fit perfectly snug in the box with no modification.
I then cut out the back side of the box with a rotary tool so that the flash would have somewhere to go
Now that my mount was almost done, I decided on a material for the outside of the soft box. I went with corrugated plastic in an effort to keep it light but durable and chose black to help control the light.
I purchased 4 – 20″x20″ sheets from a local sign shop and went to work. I measured out the dimensions of the outside of the electric box to determine the points of the corrugated plastic that will connect to it. I then cut the plastic in a triangular shape to match that, making sure that the channels in the plastic were running the width of the sheets. In other word, if you were to put the softbox pointed straight down, the channels would run left to right not up and down. I then put the pieces on the ground to make sure everything lined up correctly.
The next step was to slide a 18 guage steel wire down the first channel of each panel to connect them all together. This allows me to fold up the panels but still keep them stuck together. I tied off the wire to itself on one end.
The next step was to attach the panels to the electric box. I put velcro on all 4 sides of the electric box and on the 4 tabs of the panels. I lined them up and sliced the plastic on just the inside of the panel so that it would be easier to fold, being very very careful not to cut all the way through, and attached them to the electric box.
Everything was looking good so far. Next, I wanted to make the inside of the softbox reflective. I laid the panels down on the ground and sprayed with adhesive. After letting it dried for a few minutes to make it more tacky, I rolled some aluminium foil on the panels and smoothed it out with a cloth. Carefully cutting the foil to the same size as the panels. Here’s a shot of that.
I then put velcro on the outside of the softbox and on the fabric. I chose to velcro it instead of spray adhesive to give me the ability to put a middle layer of diffusion inside the box at a later time if I want, or if I just want the light to be harsher with no diffusion, I have that ability as well.
I ran into a little problem when I tried to mount this on a light stand. It was too heavy for my flash to mount straight to the flash itself so I needed to find a way to mount the box straight to the stand. I found a straight strip of metal at the hardware store with a few holes in it. Similar to an L-bracket but straight. It was thin enough to fit in the cold-shoe of my light stand. I drilled two holes in the bottom of the electric box in order to attached the bracket to the box and left enough sticking out to slide into the light stand.
The duct tape is on there because I wasn’t thinking ahead and the bracket was slightly too narrow to fit tightly in the cold shoe. So make sure the width of the bracket is the right size for your flash mount.
And now you have a DIY Softbox!!!
So it was a fun project, and it works really well. If you didn’t want the box to be collapsible and be slightly more stable you could gaffer tape the corners of the box. Which I may or may not decide to do in the future. We’ll see how much it travels.
I also took the time to make a softbox strip light. Similar to this one of Nick Wheeler’s with the left over material.
Good times! I hope you found this somewhat useful. Feel free to post comments of what I did wrong or right!!