I saw on DiY Photography the Build a Softbox Contest so I decide to create a DiY Apollo softbox at the end I spend less than $28 us dls and Its more compact than the original Westcott 28″ Apollo Softbox.
The challenge that I got was how to make it slim and compact and where to find the correct materials. So I did a little of research on my town, the original idea was to find a fabric similar as the one used in the regular umbrellas since its a very light fabric. But the problem was finding a fabric that was silver from one side and black on the other side. I couldn’t find it so I purchased only black umbrella fabric and some white for the front diffuser.
The second challenge was the softbox support. I try find some flexible sticks to support the softbox and I got the idea of reusing the sticks of the camping tents but I couldn’t find a place where I could get them so I decide to find something similar and I found some balloon sticks in a party supply store, flexible enough to get the softbox shape and very cheap.
This are the materials needed.
- 10 Plastic balloon sticks = $20 pesos.
- 6 Pens (I just found old pens that I dont use anymore) = Free.
- 1 10cm x 10cmm piece of wood = Free (I recycle some wood that I had the garage).
- 1 long metal stick I got a long screw at home depot = $16 pesos.
- 2 Bolts and 2 washers = $4 pesos
- 2 or 3 meters of black umbrella type fabric and 1 meter of white fabric for the diffuser = $200 pesos.
- 4 meters of black velcro = $10 pesos
- 1 long zipper = 30pesos
- 1 can of Silver paint $60 pesos.
- Some cardboard to create the template = Free (recycling a cardboard box)
- A sewing machine to stitch the fabric you can also stitched by hand but not recommended.
- Scissors, Tape, glue, and whatever you need to create the softbox
- Total cost = $340 mexican pesos around $28 US dollars
This is my first prototype to create an apollo style softbox so It will not be perfect but It will be functional. You need a lot of patience specially to stitch the fabric.
1. The template. This will be the crucial part of all the softbox this is the first thing that you should do, create a 28″ x 29″ triangle shape , you should leave 5″ of the bottom part of the template similar as the original apollo softbox.
2. Draw the shape in the black fabric, and cut around 1cm of template line and cut 4 pieces, also 4 four pieces of the bottom part.
3. Now I use the silver spray paint to paint the 4 four main parts of the softbox remember this Is what I came with, if you can find a fabric that is silver in one side and black in the other then you can skip this step.
4. Using the sewing machine stitch the bottom part (the 5″ part) to the 4 silver parts of the softbox, also stitch a strip of velcro in the middle.
5. In one of the sides cut a cross shape and stitch the zipper ( this was the most difficult part for me since It was the first time I use a sewing machine).
6. Now the fun part, stitch all the 4 sides of the softbox, once you complete this part you can now see the shape of the softbox. (well something like that)
7. Now lets build the support, cut a 10x10cmm rectangle of a piece of wood and drill 5 holes 4 on each side where the stick will be located and one in the middle for the central part of the softbox.
8. Strip the pens, we will be only using the cap and the plastic tube (this middle part of the pen) that will be used to connect the 2 parts of the balloon sticks so we can get a long flexible stick. Glue the pen in one of the sticks so you can connect another stick and get a long stick, we need 4.
9. Almost done connect the 4 long sticks to the wood support and Its time to measure the length of the sticks, use some tape to attache the structure into the softbox (like this photo) and measure the sticks long enough to stretch the fabric and cut them down.
10. Now using the pen cap drill a couple of holes and stitch them to the four corners of the softbox.
11. Give a try and assemble the softbox If you get trouble to make it fit cut a little bit the sticks until you get a nice shaped and tight softbox, almost done.
12 . We need to give some support in the middle of the softbox, using the other two sticks use a couple of rubber bands and form a cross shape.
13. I found this plastic connections in and old office furniture (hope my dad don’t find out that they are missing) that this will attach to the main sticks of the softbox.
14. Attach the the 4 main sticks in the softbox and connect the middle support (the x shape one) as follow this will give a good support for the softbox.
15. Finally connect the long screw using the bolts and you are almost almost done but so far you can mount the softbox in your light stand.
16. Create the diffuser using the white fabric measure the inside if the softbox and use the other part of velcro and once you are done put it in the softbox. You can see that works pretty good.
And that is you DiY 28″ Apollo Softbox from scratch, It took me some time because I spend time finding the correct materials but If you have everything you can create one in 3 or 4 hours. What I like most is that It folds very compact you can see how small it is, very portable comparing to the original apollo softbox.
Here are some samples using this softbox:
This first photo was at f/11 and a 1/125 of speed, iso 400 no diffuser in the softbox.
This 2 other photos was at f/8 at 1/125 of shutter speed using a iso 400 and with the diffuser attached to the softbox.
And here is the setup, I only use the Diy Apollo Softbox as a main light and nothing else, the flash was at 1/1 of power for all the tests Im pretty sure that using a more reflective surface can improve the power so with a less output power of the flash can get more light.
I really hope that you find this tutorial very useful, as I said this is a prototype If you can get a lighter and reflective fabric use it, If you find a stronger and flexible stick then use it as well, Im pretty sure you can build something better and with any shape and size that you want this only is to give you an idea of what you can get and using less than $30 us dls .
If you need help about the softbox let me know and leave a comment I hope that I can help you. The final size was an 28″ Diy Apollo Softbox almost like the real one.