Photoflex has a reputation of pushing the envelope to provide customers with the best light modifiers on the market. The epitome of this standard is evident with the design of our creative light modifier, the OctoDome®.
This soft box breaks the boundaries of typical soft boxes with the addition of our exclusive gold and silver removable interior panels. These accessory panels allow a wide degree of contrast, cooling and warming effect for your soft box. They attach easily via Velcro®.
You won’t find this soft box anywhere else! The OctoDome we currently sell is an improved version of our original OctoDome featured in this lesson. For instance, the OctoDome comes with insertable interior panels for modifying the contrast or color of light output. The OctoDome also can receive grids for controlling light output.
- Choosing the right light for you
- Setting up an OctoDome for use with StarFlash Strobes
- The OctoDome in use: Scenario 1 – Indoor Portrait
- The OctoDome in use: Scenario 2 – Outdoor Portrait
- The OctoDome in use: Scenario 3 – Clamshell Portraits
- The OctoDome in use: Scenario 4 – A Full Length Portrait
Choosing the right light for you
The basic rule of thumb for choosing a specific light for a photograph is to match the area you wish to cover with the size of the soft box. Simply put, if your image area is 3×3 feet, your soft box should be a least three feet in one of its dimensions.
The OctoDome comes in three sizes, a 3-foot, a 5-foot and a 7-foot, so there is a soft box size to fit any of your portrait needs from headshots to full- length fashion. In use, the 3-foot gives perfect coverage for “head shots” or classic head and shoulder portraits, the 5-foot covers the 3/4-length portrait, and the 7-foot is a fantastic soft box for full-length or group shots.
The OctoDome is designed for use with strobe and cool lights. The OctoDome: small is also an excellent choice for use with shoe mount flashes.
Setting up an OctoDome for use with a StarFlash
To assemble the OctoDome with a strobe unit you will need an OctoConnector for your lighting system. Photoflex makes a connector for all the major manufacturers of flash gear, visit photoflex.com to find particular connectors.
Once you have the connector for your system follow these simple steps to assemble the OctoDome. [figures 1-5]
Note: For this section, we used the OctoDome: small (3-foot). The OctoDome: medium and OctoDome: large use the same procedure.
Here we are setting up an OctoDome: small with a StarFlash Connector to be used with a StarFlash 300. Grip the connector with the light attachment facing back, then take one rod and insert into the connector. [figure 1]
Insert the second rod into the connector opposite the first rod, to find the proper rod, from the first rod count out four rods the fourth one is the proper one.
Continue insert rods opposite from each other until you insert each rod. It will be a snug fit.
With the OctoDome now assembled we can attach it to our strobe light. Align the connector with the flash head.
Insert the connector onto the head and lock it into place.
Next, we attached the back cowling onto the OctoDome. Align the Velcro® strips on the soft box with the strip on the cowling and work your way around the strobe head until it is sealed.
One feature of the OctoDome is its removable interior panels. They are reversible gold and silver and attached via Velcro. Using the silver panels increases contrast in your results, while the gold panels warm up your result. Or mix the two together for unique results! This feature doesn’t come on any other brands! Take your lighting to a new level with these additional ways to be creative.
Next, we installed the inner baffle. On the interior of the OctoDome you will find eight Velcro loops located on the rod seams. Attach the Velcro strip on the baffle to the Velcro loop on the OctoDome.
To complete the assembly, install the front diffusion onto the soft box.
Here’s a shot of our three OctoDomes in our studio. Left to right: small (3-foot), medium (5-foot) and large (7-foot).
The OctoDome in use: Scenario 1 – Indoor Portrait
The following demonstration shows a OctoDome: medium (5-foot) used to light an interior portrait. The goals here were to get a soft light from a medium sized soft box and to balance our exposure with the natural light in the windows.
Once we had the soft box and light attached to the light stand, we set it to camera right. We then took a meter reading of the ambient light coming through the windows in the background and set the up the power output on the flash unit to match.
Next, we set the exposure on the camera to hold detail in the windows and get the proper light levels on the subject and shot a photo.
To fill in the shadows on the subject, we added a 32-inch MultiDisc attached to a LiteDisc Holder with the soft gold cover aimed at the model.
With our fill reflector in place we moved the camera in, framed our shot for the result, and shot an image.
With just one light and a LiteDisc, we have created a lovely casual in-home portrait. This set up and technique can be applied to many professional situations such as executive portraits for annual reports and the like.
The OctoDome in use: Scenario 2 – Outdoor Portrait
The picture on the right was shot using only existing natural light. The exposure for the background is fine, yet there is not nearly enough light on the subject.
Next, we set up a 5-foot OctoDome, mounted a 650-watt StarFlash strobe to it, and placed it on a sturdy LiteStand. We positioned the light so that it faced the shadow side of the bride and groom and then ran the power cord and extension cable to the nearby barn that had an electrical outlet.
After turning on the strobe, we set power to about halfway. We then attached a wireless flash sync transmitter to the hot shoe of the camera and attached its receiver to the strobe head.
Once everything was synced up, we told the bride and groom to loosen up their pose and asked them to interact with each other, rather than look into the camera. We took a series of shots and this one ended up being a favorite.
The result shows a dramatic improvement over the previous shot. The bride’s face and dress are beautifully exposed with soft light and she is lit evenly from head to toe.
The OctoDome in use: Scenario 3 – Clamshell Portraits
The OctoDome is a great soft box for shooting “clamshell” lighting style portraits. This is a very popular method of lighting used in glamour photography.
An OctoDome: medium (5-foot) is set overhead and angled slightly in front of our subject. The light and soft box assembly is set in position on a Boom and BoomStand.
This main light produces beautifully soft, wrap-around light. The model is lit nicely with great detail in her hair.
We can brighten up the shadows under her eyes by reflecting light back into her face from below. We used an Oval LiteDisc for the reflector.
This image shows how the main light and reflector fill are positioned on the set. Notice how the two appear almost hinged together, hence the “clamshell” style of lighting. The camera is pointed at the model from between the two pieces of lighting gear.
This simple lighting solution can provide wonderful results. Our final image is brightly lit with minimal shadows cast.
The OctoDome in use: Scenario 4 – A Full Length Portrait
Again, once we had the soft box and light assembly put together, we placed it on the set just to the right of the camera, lifted it to 7 feet, and tipped it down to about a 45-degree angle.
We had our assistant place a mark on the ground where our model would be in the final shot. We then checked the ambient light level with our meter and set the OctoDome’s power to match so that we would get the streetlights in the background to glow.
With all the basic elements in place, we asked our model to the set and had her walk across the mark and we shot a photo.
Our result shows we nailed the exposure. We have the glow of the lights in the background we wanted. However, the lighting is on the flat side, so we decided to add a LitePanel Kit to the set to add some dimension to the lighting solution. Once we had the LitePanel frame assembled and attached to a light stand, we installed the white/soft gold cover with the soft gold side facing the set.
With the fill in place, we propped our model with a wine bottle and a glass and had her make some test passes through the set. Once we were happy with her look and moves, we started shooting the final images.
As with most of the rules of photography, these are not set in stone, this only a guideline to start with. Once you become comfortable with the gear, let your creative side run wild and break some rules.
The important thing to consider is that a light smaller than the desired coverage area will produce an image with more contrast, and a light larger than the coverage area will give results that are softer and flatter.
So with this information in mind go out and bend some rules, and above all, have fun doing it!
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