Live Workshop – Softbox lighting & theory

Learn all you need to know about the ever-popular softbox in this highly informative live photography workshop, where Karl takes a closer look at these versatile modifiers, explaining how they work and what sets them apart from other light shapers.

This show answers common questions such as “What is a softbox used for?”, “What size softbox should I buy?” and “What’s the difference between softbox and umbrella lighting?” Whether you’re relatively new to softboxes or have been using them for some time, this show covers both the fundamental and more advanced knowledge you need to get the most from your softbox.

In addition to looking at the theory and science behind them, Karl also goes into detail about the Inverse Square Law, how this can impact your photography and how you can use it to take complete control of your lighting. He also demonstrates multiple lighting setups, showing you how you can be incredibly creative with just a few lights.

In this photography workshop we cover the following:

  • Softbox lighting
  • How softboxes work
  • The difference between different softbox sizes
  • Softbox accessories
  • How to use softboxes
  • Understanding the Inverse Square Law
  • Softbox lighting setups

If you have any questions about this show, please use the comment section below.


  1. Hi Karl,

    What do think about foldable softboxes? Is there any inconvenience?

    Thanks for another amazing show!

    1. Hi Pedro, I’ve never seen them. My own softboxes come apart and I can wrap them up quite compact so it’s never been an issue. As long as they have double diffusion and are homogenous then that’s the key thing.

  2. Great show! Fully enjoyed seeing the comparisons.
    One question for you though.
    about 21 minutes in, you talk about the use of a scrim versus a soft box, and how with most skin there is hardly any difference as skin is kind of lustre, and diffuses most of the light. However, couldn’t you play with the use of a soft box, or a scrim to get specific effects when the skin is a little oily? I mean, with oily skin, you typically get a lot of specular highlights. Couldn’t you use a scrim to manage that specularity of those highlights in a creative way?

    1. Hi Kryn, oily skin is essentially gloss and the best way to reduce that is (as demonstrated on Stiffanies eyes) to get the scrim or softbox close so that your reflected gloss light to skin diffussion is closer. However I would say first and foremost don’t accept oily skin, get a tissue on it and get some matting powder to tone it down. Occasionally you might go for a baby oil look on legs and body but it’s not a look we often require on faces.

  3. hi Karl
    i like portrait photographing but when i use the big softbox ( or beautydish or….. )
    i always get a king of ofer light on the face where the softbox is like

    is this normal? is it iritating or is it normal for a photo like this also a photo is always to red is this because shutterspeed is to low? (1/160 ) when i set the broncolor higher it looks like ovrelight


    1. Hi Harm, if your ISO is at 100 and you were shooting say at f8 or f11 with 1/160th then you shouldn’t be getting ambient light polution? Also check your white balance is set for flash or daylight. Also try using the softbox closer to reduce the shadows and use a white fill panel on the opposite side of your model.

    1. Hi Karl,

      What I could use for weddings or small indoor events where natural light is not an option anymore?
      Thanks Alex.
      PS: Great information in your live.

      1. Hi Alexandru, we use the Siros L but there are other brands you can look at too such as Bowens, Elinchrom etc and also speedlites might be an option too.

  4. Hi Karl

    Great show as always. I am a bit confused with the concept of “soft light”, on this and previous shows you mention that when you bring a large soft box closer to the model, the light gets soft. By this do you mean that the surface that the light is falling on shows reveals less texture, or the shadows that the lighted part is casting is less darker? In the earlier part of the show, when you brought the large soft box closer to Stephanie it casted a much darker shadow versus when you move the soft box further away, obviously this is due the inverse square law, so what is “soft light” exactly referring to?

    Thanks a bunch


    1. Hi Amit, You are absolutely correct as demonstrated when the light is closer (if there is no fill light) then the shadow areas will look darker (because of light fall off) but the angle that the light is able to reach into texture means the models skin will be softer and the transition of shadows will be softer or shadows themselves will have a less defined edge. As I demonstrated though, distance is equally important as size in determining the best lighting solution and then as also demonstrated the direction and spill.

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