A great pairing of lighting equipment
If you have been following me for a while you are probably aware of my love for the 60-inch Photek Softlighter II. I've had mine for 20 years and sometimes stray away from it to use some other modifiers. But then comes a day when I put it back into the mix and ask myself why I haven't been using it as much as I should.
You also know that I have come to embrace the Interfit Photographic Honey Badger as my go-to lighting instrument. But I have not talked much about using them together. Do to the design of the Honey Badger I think it is a perfect mate for the Softlighter. And later in this post I will tell you why. But first some photographs...
Yesterday I got to photograph some Elizabethan outfits from my friends at Period Corsets and I am very happy with the results. Hilary made the outfits and Megan was our model and makeup artist. We had two full outfits to photograph plus the undergarments (which are totally safe for work). For these I elected to light with the Softlighter from camera left and with a 1x3-foot gridded strip box from the left rear for a small accent. The fill "light" was a large sheet of white foam board on camera right (lighting diagram provided below)
The Softlighter imparts such a wonderful glow on Megan with good overall coverage and nice falloff to the background. The background is 9-foot wide roll of gray seamless paper with a length of floor board molding from a local home improvement center resting along the bottom to finish it off. All of the textures on the background were added in post-proccessing.
My process for building up lighting for a photograph is to start with one main light and then add accents and fill as needed. In 90% of the situations the fill light will come from reflectors of some sort and not from a second light. Any additional lights will be for accents and will tend to come from behind the subject.
The Dynamic Duo
Now about the pairing of the Honey Badger and the Softlighter. The softlighter consists of a 10-panel umbrella and a diffusion panel that goes over the opening of the umbrella. The diffuser panel has a heat-resistant elastic sock in the middle of it that goes around the lamp head to hold things in place. I prefer to use lights "bare bulb" in the Softlighter. That is, without a reflector on the light which might narrow the beam and not fill the Softlighter as much as possible without the reflector. In the past this could be an issue with studio strobes employing a 250-watt quartz-halogen modeling lamp. Those lamps get HOT HOT HOT. And if the sock on the Softlighter was to slip forward a bit it could come too close to the light resulting in a bit of smoke and a really foul smell. I suspect that if left in contact long enough it would set the sock on fire. Yes, I know this from experience.
Enter the Honey Badger. This light has a ring around the face of it for attaching slip-on accessories such as the 24x24-inch softbox that comes with the Honey Badger. This black ring works perfectly to hold the Softlighter's sock in place. Of course, the Honey Badger has a 60-watt LED modeling lamp, so while being brighter than the 250-watt quartz lamps on other lights, it remains relatively cool (around 85-degrees F) and won't set the sock to smoldering or burning.