Increasingly, I'm taking environmental portraits of people as part of my work to a.) increase the scope of the images I shoot and b.) give clients a wider choice of photography to use to tell their story and engage their customers.
Nearly all of my adventure sports photography is outdoors, as opposed to a studio, so when shooting portraits there's a limit to the amount of lighting equipment I want to carry (unless it's essential and I've hired an assistant). My focus is on gear that is lightweight, multi-functional and easy to use.
The main light modifiers I use are an umbrella, a 5-in-1 reflector/diffuser, a softbox and a grid. When it comes to softboxes (as with umbrellas), the larger the modifier the softer the light but when you're outdoors it's more difficult to control larger pieces of equipment so I'm looking for something in between.
The Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite is a small, compact softbox that allows me to diffuse and direct light but not weigh me down. I find it to be an ideal piece of equipment for shooting in outdoor locations in remote places. (I can double it up with the 5-in-1 diffuser to soften the light more if need be).
Out of the box it comes with an outer and inner diffuser (both removable) and a packing case. You can buy a telescopic handle as an accessory but I usually ask a companion to hold the flash, or make use of a Lastolite Tri-Flash adapter as a handle.
What I like about the Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite softbox
- Directional light - It's easier to control where you want the light to hit with a softbox, as opposed to an umbrella which blasts light everywhere
- Lightweight - it weighs under 400g (with the packing case) and doesn't require an adapter to fit onto the flash
- Packability - it collapses flat to fit inside the provided packing case (which in turn neatly fits inside a Lowepro Photosport 200 AW)
- Simple to use - Remove the softbox from its packing case, unfold it and attach it to your flash and you're ready to go
What I would change
In winter, when my hands are cold, I sometime struggle to quickly seal the softbox onto the flash (the seal itself is fairly tight, with two velcro straps providing additional support). I'd prefer a Honl-like approach where you attach light modifiers to your flash via a separate velcro strap (a Honl Speed Strap).
Image courtesy of Lastolite and used with permission.