[Update (31 Aug): Links were added for the items ordered from Amazon, which was everything but the screws, rivets, gutter adapter, and strip of steel. It was not mentioned below, but each softbox and completed frankenbracket was mounted atop a light stand with an umbrella swivel mount.]
A couple of months back, I bought four Interfit INT211 2×2 foot softboxes for $20 a piece. The softboxes have an internal diffuser panel behind the outer panel. These are meant to mount on Interfit strobes with an EX or EXD bayonet mount (other strobe manufactures use the same mount, Elinchrom being one).
Although we have been using these for a while, I’ve alluded to the mounts but have not fully described how I avoided buying the relatively expensive studio strobes on which they mount…
Initially, I made mounts for the softboxes by cutting a hole in 3/4″ plywood and putting screws in the inside surface of the hole on which the softboxes would mount. I used springy broom handle holders to clip the plywood to the light stands. This provided no means to tilt the softbox up or down. It was also cumbersome and was kind of heavy. Here is a photo of one without the bolt that was used to mount the strobe:
I needed a better mount, one that was simpler, lighter and that allowed tilting. As it turns out The inside diameter of the softbox bracket just fits over 4″ PVC pipe, almost like it was made that way. A 4″ inside mount toilet flange worked as an initial mount, but it was a pain to make and not very cheap (nearly $5 each).
After walking the PVC pipe aisle at Home Depot for a while, I found that 4″ round to 3×4″ rectangular gutter brackets ($3-something a piece) would fit very nicely into the softbox mount. By cutting the bracket, a fixed power strobe would fit in the center as well as a battery powered flash. One piece of 24″ long strip steel ($2/ea) could be bent and then riveted to the sides of the gutter bracket to provide a mount for the plug-in-strobe (a 5/8″ bolt and nuts) and for a cold shoe ($4) to mount a battery flash. Two #10 screws provided the pin which held the softbox in place, and a #10 threaded knob ($2) keeps the softbox from coming off the bracket. Below are some photos of the finished frankenbracket. The total cost for each frankenbracket ends up being about $14, including the hardware.
And here is one with a battery flash mounted on the cold shoe:
The advantage of using Nikon flashes is that the Creative Lighting System (CLS) can be used to wirelessly trigger and vary the power of each flash in the softboxes. The disadvantage is that these battery powered flashes are firing through two layers of diffusion, which decreases the light output.
The advantage of the plug in strobes is that they are much more powerful than battery flashes (45 Watt-seconds) and that they don’t require batteries. The major disadvantage of them is that they are fixed power, which means that to adjust relative power ratios, the strobes and softboxes must be moved closer to or farther away from the subject.
In addition to allowing the use of the softboxes, these brackets will also allow the use of other Interfit EX and EXD light modifiers without the need to purchase the official studio strobe they mount on. I’m thinking a beauty dish might be nice but I’m not sure yet if our work can take advantage of having one yet, especially at $60…