A lightbank is nothing more than a black box with one side covered in diffusion material that lets light from a source—monolight though speedlight—pass through. You’ll occasionally hear lightbanks called “light box” and even “soft box” but I prefer the more generic term lightbank because it relates to the many shapes and sizes they are available.
The light inside a lightbank can be aimed to shoot through it and toward the subject or bounced into the back of the box before exiting the front. Some lightbanks let you use them either way so you can have more powerfully direct, yet softened light or the maximum possible soft light experience.
Lightbanks diffuse the raw light that;s produced by an electronic flash or other light source and produce a clean unobstructed highlight on the subject whether it’s a reflective subject like a product or a portrait subject’s eyes.
The downside is that as lightbanks get bigger they also get deeper. To oevrcome that problem, lighting genius Gary Regester created a lightbank that has a thinner-than-normal profile— the Plume Wafer.
The Wafer’s narrow profile, silver-with-white interior and graduated inner baffles create efficiencies across the front diffuser panel. The narrow profile results from using aluminum tubes and fiberglass rods to make a big, soft light source that’s easily manageable in a tight space like my home studio. In the portrait at right, one monolight with Wafer mounted is at camera right with a second light behind the subject highlighting her hair. Background is Lastolite’s (double sided—this is the graffiti side) Urban Collapsible Background
For some more tips, tricks and techniques on creating studio lighting effects without spending the big bucks on gear, please pick up a copy of my book “Studio Lighting Anywhere” from Amazon or your local camera store.