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Homemade Soft Box

Lesson 16 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

16. Homemade Soft Box

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is about creating homemade soft boxes for engagement photography using diffusion fabric and multiple flashes.


  1. What is the purpose of using diffusion fabric?

    The diffusion fabric is used to soften the light emitted by the flashes and create a more flattering light for engagement photography.

  2. How many layers of diffusion fabric are recommended?

    It is recommended to use at least two layers of diffusion fabric to create a softer light.

  3. What type of flashes can be used for this setup?

    Any type of flash can be used, but the instructor specifically recommends using the Phottix Mitros Pluses, which have full-feature radio capabilities.

  4. How can multiple flashes be triggered with only one PocketWizard?

    A hot shoe bracket can be used to connect multiple flashes to one PocketWizard, allowing them to be triggered simultaneously.

  5. How can the spread of light be controlled in this setup?

    Flags, which are objects that block or shape light, can be used to control where the light lands and prevent it from spilling to unwanted areas.

  6. What can be done to create a larger light source with this setup?

    Stacking the diffusion fabric further apart from each other can create a larger light source, but it will decrease the power of the light.

  7. Can this setup be used with only one flash?

    Yes, this setup can be done with just one flash, although using multiple flashes allows for more control over the power of the light.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Posing Guidance for Him


Posing Guidance for Her


Foundational Posing


Posing Touch Points


Couples Body Language


Posing Three Point Check


Posing Tips with Demo


Lesson Info

Homemade Soft Box

I wanna combat any possible excuses, let's put up some stands, let's say what if you have no, you're like, "Oh Pye, you're at CreativeLive "and there's an amazing window here "and I don't have this window and I'm like," okay, so let's deal with that situation now. By the way, you gotta have windows, if you're watching this, your computer's probably inside somewhere, there's windows. So what we're gonna do is I'm gonna place this up here, I'm gonna put the flash on too, just a regular flash stand and then let's put up, we're gonna do a little, this is a commercial set trick, that we'll do a lot, commercial sets, we're using a lot of huge lights, 'cause to get a lot of power, that's constant light, we need gigantic 4Ks, 8Ks and so forth, just big, big, big lights, those are the lights that you see on Hollywood sets, that require a generator that goes along with it, to get the same power for a split second, this is all we need, right, so what we're gonna do though, a way that we would dif...

fuse those on a Hollywood set is we're gonna put up a C-stand or multiple C-stands and you just put diffusion fabric in layers over it, so we're gonna actually create our own window light. So let's do this, let's go boom the arms out straight and then let's clamp diffusion fabric over them and let's actually do... yeah, that's fine, we're gonna do two layers and then as we're setting this up, if there's any questions, let us know. Actually, you know what, on top of that, I just broke this, it's not broken, I just need to screw it back on, we'll just use a different one, okay, this guy is the Westcott Triple Thread, so this allows you to basically put more than one flash onto the stand, you just have to be able to screw it on and... (audience laughing) I'm having issues with that, there we go, okay, so this is what we refer to as a cold shoe bracket, meaning that the shoes that we're putting on are not gonna trigger the flash, I'm gonna show you guys the opposite of this in one second. This guy is a hot shoe bracket, so what this means is we're using Phottix Mitros Pluses, these are really great, they're probably the best third party strobe or best third party flash, that has full feature radio capabilities and everything, they're around 400 bucks, they're a little bit pricey, but you get what you pay for, they're nice, they're very comparable to a 600EX-RT, if you guys use those, now if you guys are still using PocketWizards or any other radio trigger that requires cables, then you can save yourself a world of hurt from having multiple PocketWizards and multiple cables and multiple everything by getting one of these guys, let's see here, so this hot shoe bracket allows you to plug in one PocketWizard to this little port right here and now this one is gonna trigger all three, so now we need one PocketWizard and I can fire three flashes that are on a hot shoe bracket versus cold shoes can't do that, okay, this is the Cheetah TSHT 12C25910, I'm just kidding, it ended earlier, but why do they come up with these crazy names? They're such long names. Okay, so what we're gonna do is put that up there, you can do this, guys with one flash, you can do it with, we're gonna demonstrate with four flashes just to kind of show you like what you can potentially do, but the same thing can be done with just a single unit. The four is to kind of help us control a little bit of the power a little bit better, so we don't have to run high powers and we can kind of shoot a little bit quicker and by the way, could I get someone, I totally forgot to request this, a V-Flat, does anybody, Kelsey? Could I get a V-Flat? With a black on one side. (speaking far away from mic) Oh, these are MagMods, the MagMods are-- What was the question? Head of the flash, they look like ears. So we're gonna demonstrate these later, these are like one of our favorite light modifiers, so this is a grid and I can just basically take it and it pops right on magnetically, so we can put that on, okay, this is the other thing, so all these do something a little bit different, but it's nice because we can change on and off very quickly. So can we close this curtain? Oh, (laughs) I can close this curtain and let's put this up, just so we can... Guys, we're trying to mimic the worst possible situation, we're preparing for zombies and all the windows are boarded up, (audience laughing) but we still need to get good photographs, (speaking far away from mic) No, that one's fine. Okay, so let's boom this guy up and boom that one up to about the same height. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna create, this is the 10 dollar softbox, okay, this fabric is diffusion fabric, you can get at any local craft store, it's just white fabric, that's, lets, it's semi-transparent, it's not complicated, just go to the store, don't say diffusion fabric, 'cause they'll be like, "What?" Just say, I want some white cloth, like thin white cloth and what we're gonna do is we're gonna feather the light twice, so we're gonna place the light onto these guys and can you turn on those flashes? There we go, let's put 'em like, stack 'em up high, so that they go high and then let's bring up the, let's bring these guys, actually let's let this draping kind of come down a little bit more and then just raise 'em up a little bit and then what we'll do is, if you wanna, (laughs) I do this all the time in the studio, when I don't wanna set up a softbox, sometimes it's like easier, but sometimes it's, this, does this have black side on it? Oh God, I always do mine halves, there we go. Wow! (audience laughing) It's awesome, okay, hold on, can someone help me? (audience laughing) (laughs) You don't need one this big, yeah, there we go, perfect. So we'll put this on the other side and you can actually create your own like strip box, right, so a strip box would have a diffusion fabric, things to block light on the other side and then just a light inside of it, so this is our little strip box. We're gonna put the flashes right here. Is that long enough? What's that? Is that long enough? Yeah, that should be good. Cool and now I'm gonna get the Odin, so this is the Odin, this is good we get to set this up anyway and show you guys how all this stuff works, so the Odin is the receiver and the cool thing about these units is if you have a 600RT, the Canon or if you have an Odin or any other ones that control everything, then you can kind of do all of your power adjustments directly from this guy, okay. Let's get this guy on, there we go. Let's just make sure it's firing, perfect, okay. So what this cloth does is by putting one layer, we call it opening up the light, right, so the first layer of cloth diffuses it once and as it's about to pass through, we put another level of diffusion there, so it opens up once and then it opens up again and we'll do this sometimes on a big set using HMI, sometimes we'll do three, four, five passes of opening of the light to get it to the desired level of... yeah, everything. (speaking far away from mic) It does, so like when you think about it, the further the cloth is apart from each other, the more you let the light open further, before it hits another layer, but then it lowers the power up light, right, so the more you go, it kind of lowers it. By the way, one cool thing is there's a little test button, so on the bottom right of the lens, this is a, it's actually a aperture test thing, but when you have your flash on, you can set the default to this to test your light, so you can actually turn this on and it'll fire in pulses, so you can see where your light is landing, it's kind of a nice, handy dandy thing. Okay, so let's see what our exposure looks like right now. I'm gonna go ahead and let's just go to one tenth of a second, we're gonna go to... 200, alright, and I'm just gonna give you guys a shot, so you guys can see what it looks like in-camera, actually without the light, I'll just turn this. Okay, so you should be able to see that there's not really any light in the scene, yep, and then we need to, it's at one eighth power right now, so this is where we're gonna take a test shot and just see how our light's doing. Okay, so it's a little bit hot right now, so it's a little bit bright, you'll see it come through and all I've gotta do now is just adjust the power down a little bit, so I'm gonna go from one eighth down to one sixteenth, okay, good, okay, now what we notice is this light wasn't as soft as the light before, so when you see that and it's not bad, right, like we still get a pretty decent wrap on this side, like it's good, but we can modify that to actually get it right, now this shot, we've already taken it in natural light, so I'm just gonna show you how you would modify it, 'cause I wanna move on and get a few other shots, before we end this segment, but the way that we would do that is I'm gonna take away this guy, all this guy does is it prevents light from spilling to other places, that thing is humongous, I always make mine as half V-Flats. Okay, so see how they're stacked like this, so if we want to further diffuse the light, we pull one back, okay, now we need to make sure that what's happening is when these things fire, they're gonna kind of go all over the place, right, 'cause the light's like spilling out this way, so we either put a black there or we can put grids on them to control where it's spilling, you can do all that kind of stuff. Having this go too close, if you put this too close to your flashes, like when this goes right here, do you guys think that's diffusing it at all? That will not diffuse anything, because imagine when the flash fires, actually I can kind of demonstrate this, isn't lighting fun? Our couple's just like hiding behind the sheet cloth right now. (audience laughing) Okay, so watch this, this is like one of my favorite demonstrations to kind of show how light opens up, but if I hold down that testing, this is with it right up to it, right, do you see how that's still a really small light source? Now, as we let the light open a little bit further, you guys see that now? As we go further, now we lose power in the light, but we're letting light open and this becomes now a larger source and now when we draw that second frame in front of it, and by the way, usually what we do, when you would do this, you'd make sure that either double-side fabric all the way down or single-side, you don't want that double layer to be up here, because then you're gonna have double layers over here and one layer right here and it's gonna look off, okay, let me just put these behind it, so you guys can see it. So having the three flashes lets me shoot it like one eight power and one of those flashes is dead right now, 'cause it has a, I dropped it, I drop my stuff a lot. Okay, so look, when it hits this guy, you can kind of still see three independent light sources, right, but when it hits this guy, you now see one single light source, that comes through it, that kinda cool? Yeah. So you guys can make your own and then just control it by using flags, where you don't want it to hit and where you want it to land.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Pre-Shoot Videos
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Presets Installation Guide
Gear Guide
Favorite Software
Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

CPR Photography

I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)

a Creativelive Student

This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!


This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.

Student Work