I try to get by the best I can with the equipment I have. In terms of lighting, this means an SB600 speedlight and an umbrella that can be used as either a shoot-through or reflector. One of these I’ll get into the studio strobe and softbox market, but for now, I’m playing around with my basic toys trying to get better results.
Although I like using the shoot-through, one of the problems it has is that it spills an awful lot of light around the room in a way that a softbox, with its black sides, wouldn’t. So I came up with this solution:
Set up the umbrella and speedlight normally for a shoot-through scenario. Then, add to the speedlight one of those mini-softboxes that can be used when the speedlight is on the hot shoe; I have one made by Opteka that cost about $10. This helps a bit with the spill issue, plus it adds another layer of diffusion to the light modifier, as some larger softboxes do.
The above shot was taken with this set-up. Nikon D300S, 55-200mm kit lens @200mm, 1/250 @ f16, ISO 200; one SB600 w/ Opteka mini softbox and shoot-through umbrella, high camera right, manual mode at full power.
I should also add that this shot was taken during lunch. Photoshop was used to remove a certain amount of lasagna from the subject’s face.