Horizontal strip box for portraits with character

UKModelGA lit with a vertical orientated strip boxThis year I’m working through the light modifiers that I have that always seemed to be the first to be left behind. Right from the beginning of the year when I needed to shoot in a remarkably small space I’ve enjoyed rediscovering my strip box.

Georgia – pictured right, is lit with a strip box in the more common vertical orientation, the light is positioned just behind her and angled towards the camera more than the background.

Strip box choices

Fortunately I have a couple of strip box choices, one is a Lastolite Hotrod Strip Box measuring 140cm x 40cm which I use with a single Speedlite flash. The other is an inexpensive 200cm x 40cm model that fits Elinchrom studio lights. I have the grids for both, but don’t always use them.

Lastolite Hotrod Strip Box

Most of the times you see a behind the scenes shot with a strip box it’s vertical to create a good edge light along a long edge, be it the side of a person or something else. Strip boxes give the light of a big softbox, but only in a narrow band as you’d expect, but I find that I like the look of them as a main light when they are turned through 90 degrees making them a wide light that is not very high.

The minimal eight of the resulting light gives a significant fall off in the light as it moves from a persons face and down the body.

 

Vertical and horizontal strip box comparison

Comparison #1 – Georgia

Vertical strip box lighting example

Vertical strip box

Vertical strip box lighting example

Horizontal strip box

In the examples above the Lastolite hotrod strip box was used with no inner diffuser and without the grid, just a turn of the box around the flash mount switches from a full-length light to one that softly illuminates the face – much like a much bigger softbox – but it also falls off really fast once it passes her chin.

Comparison #2 – Richard

Vertical strip box

Vertical strip box

Horizontal strip box

Horizontal strip box

For this pair of pictures the bigger 200cm x 40cm strip box was used. I did fit the inner diffuser but not the grid. To maximise the softness and the fall off I like to get the strip box close to my models – typically only just out of the frame. This means you don’t need a huge amount of flash power.

The more I think of how the horizontal strip box looks the more I like the results, it does partly remind me of using  the lower edge of a small softbox, but since this is a really wide light it wraps around the face of my subjects so much better. If you try this make sure to experiment with the positioning of the model along the length of the light. The pictures above were taken with the models almost in the middle of the strip box.