You don’t have to buy pricey flash accessories to get creative lighting effects. In our latest DIY Photography Hacks post we show you how to make a softbox out of cardboard.
Flash, however handy, often produces harsh, high-contrast light. You can soften this by bouncing the flash off a nearby wall or ceiling, but these aren’t always available, or convenient to use.
There are loads of commercially available diffusers, bounce cards or softboxes that you can buy, but it’s possible to make a softbox for almost nothing from items you’ve probably got around your house. All you need is a suitably sized cardboard box, some tin foil, some greaseproof paper and some tape.
Planning your design, and marking it out carefully, will make your softbox a much better fit for your flash, and easier to build, so take your time during this stage. Our design is easy to follow, but for more detailed information watch our video on this issue’s disc.
The larger the softbox, the softer the light will be, but it will also reduce the light from the flash. You also won’t want your softbox to be too big if you plan to use the flash on the top of the camera, so bear this in mind when choosing your cardboard box.
How to make a softbox the DIY photography way
01 Measure and mark
Measure your flashgun head and mark the four sides at one end of the open box so the flash will be positioned in the centre. Draw a line up to the fold, then leaving a 2-3cm gap from the fold at the opposite end, draw a diagonal line to meet the line marking the position of the flash.
02 Cut it out
Carefully cut away the excess cardboard. Next, cut away the flaps at the opposite end of the box to make the main opening for the diffuser material. Score the cardboard so you can fold the sides down to fit together to make a pyramid shape for the flashgun head.
03 Added extras
Before you finish off the softbox, cut out some tin foil to match the shape of the interior. Then glue it in position inside the softbox using a glue stick-type adhesive. This will ensure that you don’t lose too much of the power of the flash when the light travels through the softbox.
04 Stick it together
Now you can tape the softbox together using gaffer tape, remembering to tape both inside and outside of both openings to make it as solid as possible. Then cut out a piece of greaseproof paper the same size as the opening at the front of the softbox and tape this in place.
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