How to Create Soft Window Light Anytime, Anywhere

Ever want to recreate natural window light after the sun goes down because you just can’t get enough of it? I’ll show you just how easy it is to do it, even during the night! 

This is an excerpt from our NEW Lighting 4 Course where we teach you how to create every natural light effect using speedlights & strobes. We use a variety of MagMod modifiers including MagGrids, MagGels, MagShoes, and the MagBox! If you read until the end you’ll find a special discount for #MagModCommunity members! 

Here is a list of gear you’ll need to get the shot:

MagBox SLR Lounge

  • Large Studio Strobe: we are using a Profoto B1x but feel free to use any type of studio strobe. You will need quite a bit of power so we suggest something over 200 w/s of power. 
  • Softbox: we chose to use the MagBox + Focus Diffuser to help us direct the light straight towards the subject to avoid spill on the backdrop. 
  • White Fabric: this is the most important piece of this technique. You can get this at any fabric store, just make sure it is pure white with no mix of color.
  • 2-3 Light Stands: you’ll see a mixture of both Matthews C-Stands and Manfrotto Air-Cushioned Stand
  • Speedlight: we chose to use a Profoto A1 backlight to help refine the image and to help separate the subject from the background. You can substitute this with your speedlight of choice. 

Step 1: Place Your Light Source In the Right Spot

MagMod MagBox SLR Lounge Pye Jirsa

Window light usually is considered a directional light source since it hits the subject from a stationary point and the photographer then shapes the light by moving the subject. Once you start moving your subject you see that the shadows are either too heavy (split lit) or there aren’t any at all (flat light). Here we are placing the light 90 degrees from the subject to simulate window light. For this shoot, we are using the Profoto B1x at around 8.0 power, which is the equivalent to 1/4th power or approximately 125 Watt/seconds.

Step 2: Diffuse Your Light

MagMod MagBox SLR Lounge Pye Jirsa

This is the result of just the B1x + MagBox + Focus Diffuser. Although this quality of light is passable, it isn’t quite believable that it could be window light due to the specularity of the highlights on the skin.

Light that comes through a window is essentially a large softbox. Since our light is coming through the Magbox with a Focus Diffuser (narrowing the scope of the light to prevent spill on the backdrop) we need to find a way to diffuse it so it simulates window light. We can see that the transition from light to shadow got softer which is a quality found in a natural light source.

Step 3: Adjust The Distance of Your Diffusion In Relation To Your Subject

Moving the diffusion cloth closer to your subject increases the size of the light source. We chose to include a second diffusion cloth to make the light even softer and to really open up the shadows. If you take a look at the comparison between our very first shot without any diffusion and to our final image, you can see the true difference in light quality by inspecting the shadow transition edge:

MagMod MagBox SLR Lounge Pye Jirsa

You can see that we are getting some spill on our backdrop here so to fix that issue, we are going to flag the light source so the light is funneled straight into the cloths. Here are the final images:

Since the MagMod Community loved our last advanced lighting course Lighting 3 so much, we wanted to we to offer them a special discount price for our latest Lighting 4 Course - Creating Every Natural Light Effect with Flash. Purchase it now for just $99 for a limited time!

Price: $99 $149

Discount Code: LIGHT4MM

Expiration: 11/13/2019

Purchase the workshop here!

Back to blog