If you are interested in creating the softest light with an amazing wrap around quality, look no further. The book light technique, coined by film maker Shane Hurlbut is so simple and basic, requires the most inexpensive light modifiers, yet gives you the maximum control over the quality of light.
What you need in order to create a book light, is a light source (strobe/speed light/video light), a reflector and a large diffusion panel.
A book light is simply a bounced source of light, that is diffused with another layer of diffusion. The light is positioned 45 degrees to the reflector, and diffusion layer can be joined at the end of your bounce where your space is limited. It creates an image of an open book, and hence the name.
You can make your light softer by increasing the distance between the source and your diffusion layer. In the above example, the reflector has now become the source, not the strobe. So the further you move your diffusion away, the softer the light will get. You can see in the video below, how the shadow softens on the hand, as the distance between the reflector and the diffusion panel increases.
You can use many different diffusions as well as bounce sources to create different types of light quality.
For the bounce/reflector you can use: Foam Core, Bleached/Unbleached Muslin, White Bed Sheet or a White Towel.
For the diffusion panel you can use: White Diffuser Sheets, Silent Grid Cloths or even Frosty Shower Curtains.
For a complete and detailed list of of diffusion panels and bounce sources, be sure to check out Shane's blog.
Alternatively, if you have access to double diffused octabox, or a bounced modifier like a photek softlighter, you can replace it with the strobe and reflector to get similar results of soft wrap aroun light. See the diagram below.
Try this soft and beautiful light, and post some of your results in the comments below.