Is your light too bright???
I have seen in a number of forums where photographers are indicating that the studio lights they are using are too bright to provide the soft light necessary for shooting newborn photos. Well low and behold I had the same problem. I didn't really want to spend a bunch of money to get more diffusers so I came up with a DIY fix that has served me well. So well that I thought that I would share my how too.
In my case, I use large rectangular soft boxes, but this method can work for any shape and size of soft box. You are essentially making an inner baffle diffuser for your soft box.
Here is what you will need:
1) Glue gun
2) Two hole buttons (the number of buttons depends on the number of corners or arms on your softbox. In my case I needed 4 but if you use a large umbrella you would need 8).
3) 4 skinny rubber elastic bands (or elastic string...but not the fabric covered kind...it need to be a bit rubbery).
4) ~1 meter lighter weight white fabric (the material used to make windbreakers is ideal). I got my material at Walmart for $5
5) ruler or measuring tape
First you will need to know or measure the dimensions of your soft box at the largest end (take off the outer diffuser for these measurements). In my case mine is 36 inches by 47 inches. Then you need to cut your fabric to fit and sit roughly 6-8 inches inside your softbox (If you are using a more shallow umbrella softbox, I would only make it sit about 4 inches inside). So just measure from the outer edge down inside one of the poles 6-8 inches on each pole.
Then measure the distance from each measured point. This does not have to be super accurate (you'll see why shortly).
Once you are done measuring, cut your fabric to the measurements that you just made. If you have a fabric that will fray, I suggest folding of the edge about a 1/2 inch and gluing it to itself. This will keep it from fraying in the future. Once done set the fabric aside.
Now you will need your elastics and your buttons. Cut each elastic and make it about 3 inches long. You will need the same number of elastics as you have buttons (in my case 4 but in the case of an umbrella you will need 8).
Feed your newly cut short elastic up through one button hole and down through the other.
Once you have done this too all your buttons and elastics, grab your cut fabric and lay it out with the wrong side facing up (so if you folded your edges over you want the folded edge facing up). Get your glue gun ready. Take the free ends of one of the button-elastic creations and glue them to one of the corners.
Do this for all button-elastic creations and all corners.
Now wait for your glue to be good and dry....
Once the glue is good and dry, take one of the button corners and push it around behind one of the inside arms of your soft box and then back through the little loop of the elastic.
If you have a rectangular softbox like me make sure you line up the long sides and short side of the inner diffuser. If you have a square or umbrella softbox you don't have to worry about this. Do this with all the corners of your softbox and VOILA! you have a new inner baffle diffuser! Put your outer diffuser on and test out if your lighting is now as soft as you want it.
In my case, the light was still way too harsh for my liking. So I made a third baffle, a reflective one (to simulate an inner beauty dish) but with only one extra step to this method and one additional ingredient...tin foil!
To make a reflective inner baffle do all of the above, but make the fabric smaller so that it will sit about 6 inches in front of your light and be about 6-8 inches wide & tall (basically you want to force the brightest direction of light to bounce back on itself).
Once the fabric was cut, I used spray glue to glue tin foil to one side of the fabric (make sure the tin foil is the shiniest side out). Then I glued the elastic-button creations as above and installed my new reflective baffle.
Now with all my diffusers and reflective baffles I am finally happy with my lighting and the whole thing cost me $10 to do 2 strobes!