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Light Shaping Tools for Professional Photographers

Lesson 24 of 32

How to Use the Large Octa Softbox

Tony Corbell

Light Shaping Tools for Professional Photographers

Tony Corbell

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Lesson Info

24. How to Use the Large Octa Softbox

Lesson Info

How to Use the Large Octa Softbox

Okay, so let's bring our model on the set. Ray, Ray, is a good-lookin' dude, I'll tell you. How you doin'? Pretty good, how are you? Good, well where you'd get that voice? Man, oh man. Uh, natural. Really, are you on the radio? But I don't do that anymore. Are you on the radio? Uh, from time to time. See, that's a radio voice right there. Good, well thanks for joining us today. Why don't ya just have a seat there and get comfortable first. We'll start off with this. I do wanna start off with Ray with a five-foot Octa. I've talked about the Octa quite a bit as being one of my single most favorite tools in my back pocket. I think that the five-foot Octa is ... You know, Scott Kelby one time asked me if I was to ever get stuck on a deserted island, what would I have for one lighting tool. And I said a translucent panel. And I gave him all the reasons. Now that I been using this for a few years. I think that it would be a five-foot Octa. I just love what it does. It's just ...

a killer, killer source. So let's bring it over here, John. Put it at a 45. We'll tip down, we'll put it up pretty high, and I just wanna do a headshot with it, and we'll start there and then we'll start changing things up a little bit. We're gonna keep this segment kind of simple on the number of lights that we're gonna use. But we wanna talk about the sources and what they have the capability of doing for us. Lemme just, my tripod is not set the way I want to set it and I just wanna get it fixed real quick. Okay, there we go. Okay, interesting thing about tripods and our cameras and the way everybody sets up their gear differently. I always have a leg of my tripod under my lens. And the reason for that, a lot of people think, look, to support the lens. No, it's not, it's that I'm open right here. I want this area open. I can walk up to my camera and not stumble into anything, and so that's why I do it. The weight thing is okay, but still, I just want this to be open. And how you set up your tripod heads, it's all very important and that's all very, very personal, isn't it? It's like, we can all use all kinds of different same ideas and same techniques and same equipment, but when it comes to a ball head and a tripod, you guys are very particular about what you like. So, it's kind of interesting. Okay, so, again, here we go. My favorite source, John, is sitting right about perfect, so let's fire one off here. Oh, hang on, let me get this on. Here we go, test. (camera beeps) 8.8. 8.8, which is F what? F12. (host chuckles) Stay outta this! It's F10. F10, yeah. F8, then F9, then F10, then 11, but eight and two-thirds is F10. Right. I didn't make this up, you guys. I'm sorry, I am sorry it's so confusing, but it isn't my fault. I'm just having to learn to live in it, so we all are. So I'm dial in F10, and I'm at 125. ISO of 200 still on the meter. Yup. Okay, so, let's do this, Ray. Let me back up just a little bit. I wanna turn you just a little bit that way. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and bring your head to me just a bit, and let the top of your head just roll over just a little bit, right there, just a bit, right there. This is his new headshot for his insurance business. This is goin' on the billboard out on the highway, just south of town next Thursday. There you go. That suit looks good on you, it's a good fit. Okay, so here we are. Let's take a look at Ray over there. So you can see, we've got great highlight in the eyes. It's just a good all-around surface light on his face. The highlights look great. The shadows look good, and it's interesting because the source is so big. And I mentioned this the other day when we were talking about these. With an Octabank, light does come out, and to me, it seems to spread a little bit more than it does from a Softbox. So because it seems to spread more, it seems like I'm getting a little bit better coverage than you might first think when you first test it and first look at it. But, look at the shadow. I think that's a very acceptable, I think this little area right in here is really acceptable. I think that looks really good, the falloff, the transition from the highlight into the shadow, I think that's real comfortable, and that's why I choose that source. It just does that for me every single time I pull the trigger. That makes it a very valuable tool for me. And, it's big enough that I can get it away from my client a little bit, and it's still a big, big source, right? Let's drop it down just a tiny bit, John. Let's just drop it down a little bit. There you go, and then for fun, let's just, lemme do a couple more real quick first, and then we'll, I wanna pivot it a little bit and talk about the background. Let me get that back up like that. Okay, here we go. Let me do another couple of these real quick. Okay, Ray, again, just bring your head in just a little bit right in there. Good, good, good. (camera shutter clicks) Great, now one thing I do like for guys to do just a little bit ... Again, we talked about this yesterday when they, I need people to lean just a little bit. It gives them a different look. If you think about it, when someone's in front of your camera and you're posing them, if they feel awkward, it's gonna look great. If they feel comfortable, it's not gonna look great. (host laughs) You gotta mess with them a little bit. So, sorry, I need you, well you did it. I need you to lean over your belt a little bit like that, yeah, yeah, right there, good. And I wanna do one right here like that. Now this time, let your eyes come right about over here, right like that, perfect, chin up a tiny bit for me. Right there, good. (camera clicks and beeps) Great, great, great. Very traditional, very simple, very saleable headshot for his business card, whatever it might be. Okay, his profile picture. But, no, let's take a look at that background. That background's kinda fallin' into a pretty even monotone with the suit. It's about the same density there, it looks like, on the picture. So, let's just rotate the light. We don't wanna change its position; I just wanna rotate it and spin it and spin it and spin it and spin it and spin it, spin it, spin it right about there, and I don't think we're gonna get a change in our exposure, but let's try one just to be sure. Here we go. (camera beeps) 11.1. So we did go up a little bit, so when I spun it around like that, I'm pickin' up a little bit more from the side, just a little bit from the inside of that box, which is, you know, the insides of the box is all highly polished silver, highly reflective, so it just got a little bit more efficient on the edge there. So, I'm gonna close down to F11. And, chin up a tiny bit for me, Ray. There you go, good, good, good. Right there, great. Okay, perfect, so you'll notice on this one now the background density's just gonna come up a little -- oh, it didn't come up much. Okay, I thought it would've done more than that. Okay, well, now I do wanna show you one other technique with the Octa, and this is something that I think is pretty important to have. Let's back it up just a little bit. Yup, and then I wanna also, I wanna do one more with him kind of a three-quarter thing, and then I'm gonna pull the front skin off of it, and talk about that a bit, there ya go, that's gonna do it. And then, let's just pivot that a little bit more. Toward the background? Yup, just a bit. There you go, good. And again, as we've talked before, you can bend and change the angle of your light tools in order to almost feather light away from areas. Like if his hands are gettin' a little bright, and I don't wanna put in some kind of a Gobo down below, down here between here and there, I can just tip that head up. Like that, and knock it off his hands. So that's a pretty important, it's a pretty important technique to know and utilize from time to time. And like I said yesterday, it's how we save, that's how I save the sand on the beach, when I'm shootin' my flash outdoors on the beach. Instead of my light up at a 45, my light might be in the position of a 45, but my box isn't tipped down. My box is tipped way up like I'm lightin' the sky. I've had photographers say, "That Corvelle's a knucklehead. "Look at him down there lightin' the sky "instead of the clients." What I'm not lighting is the sand, so. Okay, here we go. (camera beeps) Eight and a half, okay, so we're down to eight and a half, so I'm gonna pull that power down. (camera beeps multiple times) Eight point zero, I've got the plus and minus control here for the head, so I don't have to climb up on the stand to power it up and power it down, so that's pretty helpful. Okay, here we go. So I'm gonna have 8.0, good, good. I'm gonna back up just a little bit. All I did by pullin' this light back, I'm makin' it a little bit more specular on his face. Now you see a little bit more shine comin' up on his skin, that's what's happening. By changing that surface area of the Octabank and its distance, by backing it up, my highlight just became a little bit smaller. As the highlight became a little bit smaller, it became a little bit brighter. And so now, his face is pickin' up a little bit more of a sheen. I like it better on him; he can handle it. He's not got really highly polished, oily skin. He can handle a little bit smaller source. Okay, or, now just before we go too far, let's go ahead and push it back in, and I want it really close, and I wanna show you the difference. And we'll just do a before and after. Great, great, great, great. Yeah, right in there. Ready? (camera beeps) 8.9. Okay, so we bumped up, back up to our stop again. (camera beeps) Okay, so now I've got my big -- So go ahead and drop that down just about five or six inches. Chin up a tiny bit, right there, there you go. You just, it got right in my shot. Can you just ... Which way do you want me to sway? That way just a bit. Actually, it's okay, I'll just come over an inch. I'm good, that's good, here we go. Right there, Ray, there you go, good. So on this one, now it's much, much bigger source. The highlight's gonna be much, much more under control. It's just a little softer look. And let it finish loading, there we go. So now the highlights are a little bit more under control. Now, if you need to introduce more contrasting, more specular look to your images, and you need the size of the source like this, then all we have to do is pull off this front skin. (paper crinkling) Right. And try not to hit your model in the head. Let's just leave it right where it is and take a reading right there. And then I'll see how much I'm gonna power this down. Ready? Ready, set, go. (device beeps) 11.3. Oh, 11.3, interesting. Yup. Okay, so I'm just gonna go. (camera beeping) Now it's 11, I just lowered it three-tenths. Make sense? So now, it's gonna have a little bit of a different look. Great. Great, great, great, nobody moves, nobody moves. Way to go, Ray. (camera shutter clicks) Okay, so .... I can sell that one. And I think I can sell this one. And it's just a little bit more crisp. I don't know how else to define it. It's just a little bit more crisp. And so that he viewers can see what we're talkin' about, go ahead and rotate this, John, in toward the audience a little bit. So you can see that the diffusion material is still takin' care of the bulk of the work of making this a nice, soft ... Translucent, diffused source. But the edge of that silver is now lettin' that thing ... Lettin' some more specular light come forward out of the edges. And it really does help a lot in certain situations. It certainly helps with jewelry. It certainly helps with sequins. It helps with a lot of highly polished things that just might need a little bit more specularity. Okay, think about skin texture. Texture is a direct result of an acute angle of light skimming across the surface. And texture is nothing more than little, miniature highlights and shadows, right? So if I can control those miniature highlights and shadows, I can increase texture or I can minimize texture. If I'm shootin' leather goods for a catalog, I might want more texture so you can see all the little bevel tool marks and all that stuff. So, just kinda depends on what the job is. But you've got all kinds of controls. So, let's get you standing for a couple. Put that back there, and John, let's pull this guy back. Let's pull that back again, sorry about that. And ... A little bit more, there you go. And we need to go a little bit higher with it too this time. Right about, there you go. And then a little bit more. Let's take it a little bit higher. Yup, there you go, right there, good. Okay, so, Ray, let's turn you that way just a little bit. And go ahead and put your hand in your pocket, maybe, and just kinda get comfortable. I want your weight on your left foot. That's it, right there, did you see it? All of a sudden, his shoulders got into a better position for me automatically, and now just bring your head around this way quite a bit. A little bit more, a little bit more. Right in there, great. Do you wanna take a quick reading of that now? See what we're getting there. This is such a good all-around way to work with this light. Here we go. (device beeps) Five six and a half. Okay. So I'm gonna take that five six and a half up a little bit. (camera beeps) (host laughs) F8. F8 and be there. F8 and B there. Did you all ever hear that phrase before? You photo people? That was always the exposure for photojournalists, for working photographers in war zones or whatever they might be doing. What's the exposure? Well exposure's F8 and be there. You gotta be there. The most important part of that statement is you gotta be there, F8 and be there. Okay, you look great, Ray. Just bring your head around a little bit further this way, a little bit more. Yeah, there you go, there you go, right there, good. Let's do one more of those. Chin up a tiny bit, and bring your head around again, and your shoulders too, just a little bit to me. That's it, right there, right there, right there, good, good. Just a plain, old, ordinary, nice little executive, quick three-quarter-length shot. And this light will do it all for you. It's a wonderful tool that does things that is ... It's just consistent, it's just consistent, so, have I sold you on it yet? Yes. It's the smartest thing I have, smartest thing I've ever spent money on, besides this ball head, was that light. I love this ball head. Okay, good, let's take a break for just a second. Let's pull that off of there. Okay. I think I'm good with you for right now. But I'll be lookin' for you again. Oh, sorry, Ken has got questions. Oh, I was just wondering because several people have asked if you could say which ball head and tripod that is. Oh, sorry, so the tripod that I use, it's an Induro tripod, and this one is the CF 214? CT-214 is the tripod head, this is the tripod that I use. It's Induro, it's a carbon fiber, and it's called the CT-14. The reason I use this tripod more so than -- I've got other tripods and I've got heavier tripods with fewer sections. This one fits in my medium-size suitcase so I can take it with me when I go. It doesn't have to get shipped or get checked, I mean, doesn't have to be shipped ahead or go with all my photo gear. I can keep it in my suitcase. So that's why I use this particular size. You can see it's got so many sections, it folds down really flat. The ball head I'm usin' is from a company called Really Right Stuff. This is the Really Right Stuff ball head. It's called a BH-55. It is the nicest gift I ever bought myself. It has, I bought it specifically for this camera. You buy 'em and when you buy it, you tell them what camera you're gonna put it on and that's the right one that they ship you. But the L-bracket, it hugs around my camera, so that the quick release, the quick release on the bottom is mimicked over here on the side also, and so instead of tippin' my camera down in the slot, on the, over here where you're tryin' to do that to shoot, go from vertical to horizontal, I don't do all that; I just leave it in this position, and I just pop it off the tripod, I mean pop it off the head, and put it back on that way or put it back on that way. And then the clamp is how it stays on. It doesn't clip or anything. It's just got this really nice kind of a friction clamp that just holds it in place. And it's guaranteed for life. And I am just sold on it; it was very expensive. It was very expensive, but it was the best gift I bought myself in a long time. Okay, I think I'm good with Ray for right now, and thank you, sir. We'll get you back out here shortly. You're a good man, thank you, you look awesome. Thank you. What a voice, I'd give anything -- If I had that voice, man, I'd be doing voice-over acting all the time. Yes, sir, doc. Just a quick question. Yep. I noticed you make very subtle but important changes in your posing hints, and I know that this is about lighting, not posing, but -- Yeah, but that's okay, let's talk about it. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about chin up, chin down, shoulders, weight on the back foot, so forth. There are subtleties in posing, and some of which I'm not great at. Some of the best posing people in the world I envy them every day, 'cause I just can't do what they do. There's a guy in San Francisco named Hanson Phong that's a great poser. Roberto Valenzuela is a great poser. There's a lot of good people that do a lot of really great posing, and I've never been one of 'em. But I do know, and I've done it long enough I know that there are subtleties with a man, with a masculine portrait, with him turned. Here's camera position, and I've got him turned away from camera slightly. When I had him lean over the belt just a little bit all that did is it gave him a tiny bit of power. And then I had him bring his head over this way, and I had him tip his head over, because that's a little bit more of a masculine tilt. If his head stayed up here, it's a little more feminine. So little subtle things like that. I'll often get him in position, and you can't get people to do what you want 'em to do very easily, so I show 'em; okay, can you just bring your head over like this, or can you just bring your head over like that? It's better. Now, some guys like to touch their subjects, and they'll walk up and put their hands on their temples and just kind of move their head where they want 'em to go. I don't do that too much. Most people sit down, when they sit on the stool, or if they sit on a sofa or if they're at their table and chairs, or whatever, most people slump a little bit, like that. And the first thing I would say to you, okay, this looks great, you look good, good, don't worry. Oh, this is fantastic. Always you gotta say the nice things first. And then, now can you just straighten up your back? Just sit up good and tall, just sit up tall, sit up tall. Now just lean forward over your belt. I want them to straighten up their back, then I want 'em to lean forward. What I don't want is them slouched over like this and lean forward, 'cause then it just rounds the shoulders and the back. Weight on the back foot is almost always a good idea, because it just gets their shoulders and hips in a different position, and it's not flat and boring. It's interesting, too, I've heard it said that in the U.S., most people pose full length with the weight on the back foot and the front foot pointed toward the camera. In France, it's the opposite. In France, they're a little bit more in your face, I think, and a little bit more posing with their weight on the forward foot with the weight off of the back foot, leaning into the shot a little bit more. Isn't that interesting? So, there's little subtleties from around the world with different things. I love for women to cross, if they're seated, I love for 'em to cross their ankles, one ankle over the other. It's just better than flat-footed. It's more feminine, it just looks better. Little subtleties like that.

Class Description

Light is the photographer’s most powerful medium. Professional photographers know how to shape it and reflect it, divert it and redirect it. They can tame its harshness and coax it into a subtle glow, use it to dispel troublesome shadows or highlight a striking moment. 

Effectively curating light during a shoot can bridge the gap between mediocre images and truly captivating photography. All it takes to bend light to your will is knowledge of the right gear, and when to use it. Tony Corbell is a professional photographer and a master of studio lighting. Join Tony for this course, and you will learn:

  • How to use light shaping tools and their specific uses
  • How to creatively use reflectors of all kinds
  • How to use soft boxes, umbrellas, ring flashes, and other unique tools in the studio
Tony will draw on his decades of experience to teach you a full technical understanding of the gear you need to shape light to your purpose. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Corrective Lighting Techniques for Portraiture

Light Meter Display & F-Stop Setting for Exposure

Scene, Subject, & Light Contrast Article

Judging Image Effectiveness Criteria

Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Stefan Legacy

Bought this class on sale for 19$ and it was a great buy considering it was my first class I purchased on CL. Tony is an excellent teacher and demonstrates extensive knowledge on lighting and different uses of modifiers. Overall this is an excellent course for any one who is interested in learning studio lighting, this will give you a great detail of information.

a Creativelive Student

This is my first time watching Tony Corbell teach and work he was great! I am a natural light photographer and this class made me think about picking up some lights and umbrellas! You can tell he absolutely loves what he does. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

a Creativelive Student

Important information if you want to be a photographer. Great teacher, good pace!!