Want to take a group por­trait and don’t know which dif­fuser will give the right amount of light? Flip­ping through the online store and can not choose the “right” flash attach­ment? The stu­dio admin­is­tra­tor asks what kind of light will be need­ed for a pho­to shoot, but you do not know what to say? Do not under­stand how a soft­box dif­fers from an octo­box and is there any dif­fer­ence in what to use?

We tell you why in all of these cas­es you can safe­ly use only the octo­box, share light­ing schemes, and also explain how the octo­box dif­fers from the soft­box.

The Octo­box is the best attach­ment for begin­ners as it does­n’t accen­tu­ate tex­tures or give harsh shad­ows. It’s easy to put on a beau­ti­ful light with it, even if you still don’t know how to do it / Pho­to: unsplash.com

What is octobox

An octo­box is an attach­ment for a stu­dio light or on-cam­era flash. It shapes and directs the flow of light that hits from the source, which is why it is called a light shap­ing noz­zle.

Octo­box is a fab­ric struc­ture on a frame that expands in dif­fer­ent direc­tions. The frame of the noz­zle is octag­o­nal (that is why it is called “octo­box” from the Latin octo — eight). Because of this design, the noz­zle is very sim­i­lar in shape to a cir­cle. And this is one of the main fea­tures of the octo­box — it gives round high­lights in the eyes of the mod­el, which look nat­ur­al, suc­cess­ful­ly imi­tat­ing nat­ur­al light. That is why the octo­box is one of the most pop­u­lar attach­ments when shoot­ing a por­trait.

Inside the octo­box is a reflec­tive sur­face that directs it, and in front, at the exit — as if between the flash and the mod­el — a spe­cial dif­fus­ing white fab­ric is stretched. Because of this fab­ric, the light is soft and dif­fused / Pho­to: unsplash.com

What makes soft light?

  • Light shad­ows with­out clear bound­aries, which are smooth­ly shad­ed;
  • lack of bright, rough high­lights;
  • hid­ing the imper­fec­tions of the skin of the mod­el;
  • eas­i­er to retouch;
  • eas­i­er to pho­to­graph and more dif­fi­cult to get an ugly black and white pat­tern;
  • gen­tle light, ide­al for chil­dren’s and wom­en’s por­traits.

Read also:

Soft light: how to cre­ate out­doors and indoors

Impor­tant: the soft­ness of light is affect­ed not only by the mate­r­i­al from which the dif­fuser is made. The size of the light shap­ing noz­zle has a huge impact. The larg­er the noz­zle, the soft­er the light.

Octobox with honeycombs

What to do if you only have an octo­box at your dis­pos­al, and the light, on the con­trary, needs to be made more rigid and direc­tion­al? To do this, use the octo­box with hon­ey­combs.

The hon­ey­comb for the octo­box is a spe­cial black fab­ric mesh that is attached imme­di­ate­ly after the dif­fuser fab­ric. With the help of this grid, the light beam is con­cen­trat­ed in the cen­ter and more pre­cise­ly direct­ed, min­i­mal­ly scat­ter­ing in dif­fer­ent direc­tions.

The small­er the grid of hon­ey­combs on the octo­box, the more direc­tion­al and hard the light will be / Pho­to: wikimedia.org

What makes hard light?

  • Dark, deep shad­ows and bright high­lights;
  • con­trast­ing black and white pat­tern, which makes the pho­to more spec­tac­u­lar;
  • empha­sizes the relief of the sur­face, which is good for prod­uct and food pho­tog­ra­phy.

Read also:

Hard light: how to get it, life hacks for shoot­ing

Hard light por­trait / Pho­to: unsplash.com

Often, octo­box­es are sold imme­di­ate­ly with a set of hon­ey­combs, so you don’t have to buy them sep­a­rate­ly. If you are pho­tograph­ing in a stu­dio, just ask the admin­is­tra­tor to put hon­ey­combs on your octo­box.

Octobox for flash

If you’re an event pho­tog­ra­ph­er or a reporter, an octo­box for on-cam­era flash may be the best option. It will give a soft, but at the same time — due to its small size com­pared to a stu­dio octo­box — quite a con­trast­ing light.

A small com­pact octo­box for on-cam­era flash / Pho­to: fotosklad.ru

What you need to know when buying an octobox for on-camera flash?

- The larg­er the octo­box for the flash, the pret­ti­er the cut-off pat­tern will turn out. That is why you should not take small noz­zles — putting them on a flash, you will not see any dif­fer­ence.

- Get ready that the flash with the octo­box will not be on the cam­era, but in your hands. The attach­ment can be so large that if you put it on the cam­era, it will hide the view. In addi­tion, the side light looks bet­ter than a direct head-on flash. There­fore, you will need a syn­chro­niz­er for your on-cam­era flash.

Read also:

Types of syn­chro­niz­ers. How to set up a syn­chro­niz­er

- To take pic­tures at a dis­tance greater than arm’s length, look for a spe­cial hold­er for light shap­ing attach­ments. Club pho­tog­ra­phers shoot with them. This allows you to raise the light above a dense crowd with one hand while hold­ing the cam­era in the oth­er.

What is the difference between octobox and softbox

The octo­box is a sub­species of the soft­box. All soft fab­ric noz­zles can be safe­ly called soft­box­es — and octag­o­nal octo­box­es, and elon­gat­ed strip­box­es, and square designs. In order to some­how dis­tin­guish between them, they came up with sep­a­rate names.

The octo­box dif­fers from soft­box­es of oth­er shapes in round high­lights in the eyes of the mod­el and a wide beam of dif­fused light if the octo­box is large.

Simple and interesting lighting schemes with octobox

Octo­box is a large light shap­ing attach­ment. Because of this, the light is well dif­fused and can illu­mi­nate a uni­form­ly large area. For exam­ple, both the mod­el and the back­ground at once. Thanks to this, light­ing schemes with an octo­box do not require many light­ing fix­tures. We share sim­ple and work­ing schemes for your shoot­ing.

Scheme of light with an octobox on a crane

This light­ing scheme is suit­able for por­trai­ture, cloth­ing cat­a­logs and fam­i­ly group pho­tog­ra­phy. The trick is to raise the octo­box above the mod­el’s head and point it above and slight­ly in front of the mod­el.

Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Lentchevicha, Photostore.Expert

You will need:

- stand crane. This is a spe­cial design with a coun­ter­weight that allows you to lift even a heavy octo­box and fix it above the head of the mod­el;

- the largest octo­box that can be found in the stu­dio.

Light scheme with octobox and reflector

This is a sim­ple and unusu­al light­ing scheme for a por­trait, which will allow you to get a bright, wide back­light, and illu­mi­nate the face of the mod­el with a more gen­tle reflect­ed light.

Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Lentchevicha, Photostore.Expert

You will need:

- octo­box, which is placed just behind the mod­el;

- a reflec­tor aimed at the mod­el. It is impor­tant to put it strict­ly oppo­site the octo­box. If your stu­dio does­n’t have a reflec­tor, ask for a white flag, a white struc­ture that allows you to reflect or block out some of the light. At home, you can use a white cloth, what­man paper or sheets of foil. Thus, soft, reflect­ed light from the flash will fall on the face of the mod­el.

Light scheme with an octobox for a beauty photo shoot

A two-source light scheme that is suit­able for por­traits and beau­ty shoots, where it is impor­tant to take a close-up pho­to of the face and focus on make­up, eye­brows, and lips.

Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Lentchevicha, Photostore.Expert

You will need:

– an octo­box direct­ed direct­ly at the mod­el or slight­ly to the side (as in the illus­tra­tion);

– put the strip­box on the floor and aim it at the mod­el’s chin. Instead of a strip­box, you can sim­ply ask the mod­el to hold the reflec­tor in her hands.

Scheme with an octobox for the “glowing background” effect

A spec­tac­u­lar light­ing scheme that is suit­able for bust or large por­traits, as well as pho­to shoots thought out in a high key. Due to the fact that the includ­ed octo­box is behind the mod­el, we get a gen­tle por­trait with a glow effect.

Read also:

Shoot­ing in high key

Illus­tra­tion: Eliz­a­beth Lentchevich, Photostore.ExpertIllustration: Eliz­a­beth Lentchevich, Photostore.Expert

You will need:

- octo­box, stand­ing behind the mod­el and shin­ing in her back;

- a beau­ty dish aimed at the mod­el’s face slight­ly in front and to the side. Since this is a hard light source, you will get a bright and con­trasty pic­ture.

Shooting with an octobox — what to photograph

  • Due to the round high­lights in the eyes that octo­box­es give, they are often used when shoot­ing por­traits. It looks much more aes­thet­i­cal­ly pleas­ing than the square high­lights from soft­box­es.
  • Again, because of the shape of the glare, flash octo­box­es are often used for shoot­ing in clubs, restau­rants and at events where the empha­sis is on peo­ple.
The dif­fused light of the octo­box­es is also suit­able for prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy / Pho­to: unsplash.com
  • Octo­box­es are the largest of the light shap­ing attach­ments. Group por­traits are pho­tographed with them. And it doesn’t mat­ter what you are shoot­ing – fam­i­ly or busi­ness part­ners.

Read also:

How to Shoot a Group Por­trait: Com­po­si­tion and Equip­ment

  • Sub­ject shoot­ing of large-sized objects — cars, fur­ni­ture.
  • Due to the fact that the octo­box is able to fill a large area with light and even illu­mi­nate the back­ground, it is used to shoot cloth­ing cat­a­logs.