My name is Brendan Burkett, and I believe I have created an original device and street photography method. What I have done is attach a softbox to my back for ultimate portability. This allows me to get street portraits with a very unique light.
Taking a 180 degrees turn from our color-bursting portrait, here is a very soft black and white portrait and how to build a great setup for it.
Some portraits, you just want to be beautiful, not after retouching, but when you’re taking them, right out of the camera. That’s how this one goes.
Sometimes, all you want are super-clean pictures against a white background. To achieve this, you can use a softbox for your background, and that’s exactly what we’ve done here.
Well, of course, it won’t be just one type of light, you will also have a bare flash to play with. But if you can only have one modifier, I would say get a big octabox. But first, let’s define the octabox or as photographers fondly call her, the Octa.
The Octa is (usually) a fairly big source of light that has an octagonal front surface. Unlike a softbox for example, which has a square or rectangular surface. Of course, there are smaller octaboxs as well, but usually, when photographers want to use an Octa, they want that big semi-round light.
By now, you probably know that you should sandbag your gear. I mean, who would want their gear flying on their face when they talk about sand bags?
But sometimes the wind is just too fierce. Not only for a light stand but for any sort of modifier. In the movie below, German photographers Flash bros set out to shoot a portrait. Only the wind was a bit too strong even to hold a Profoto B1 500 TTL strobe with a small Profoto 2′ Octa. You can actually see how the wind drags both gear and assistant away.
Flash modifier comparisons can be extremely useful things. Without having to get up out of the comfort of our chair, we can very quickly and easily see how different shapes and sizes of modifier affect how light falls on our subject. Here’s one we discovered by photographer Michael Quack and the team at Visual Pursuit comparing a very wide array of Hensel modifiers.
Hensel modifiers aren’t exactly inexpensive, but if you want the best quality, you generally have to pay the highest prices. While you may not be specifically looking at buying Hensel gear, it’s still a useful comparison. With the subject, lights and photographer remaining the same for each shot, you can quickly get a feel for the differences that modifier design can make in your image.
One of the questions I see pop up often through various portrait groups on Facebook is “what softbox do I buy?”. After they settle on an octabox, it’s invariably followed up with “How big should I go?”. Personally, when it comes to Octaboxes, I’ve always been of the belief that the bigger the better. But, that’s just because I like nice big soft light. And, if you’re using a flash capable of filling it, why not?
In this video from photographer Francisco Joel Hernandez, we’re shown how they measure up in a direct comparison. Using 18″, 38″ and 60″ we get an overview of how size affects how the light falls on your subject. We also get a look into some of the more practical reasons why you might choose one size octabox over another.