A new softbox has been added to Profoto’s growing assortment of RFi Softboxes. It is an octa softbox. A four-foot octa to be precise. Not too big, not too small. Just perfect. Swedish photographer Tobias Björkgren has tried it out. Here is his story.
Ulfsunda Castle in Sweden is old. More than 100 years older than the United States in fact. Built in 1647 during The Thiry Year War, the castle has seen its fair share of historical figures and events.
Latest in line is the world’s first shoot with our brand new octa softbox: the Softbox RFi 4’ Octa. The shoot was done by Swedish portrait and fashion photographer Tobias Björkgren. As historic events go, it might not be able to compete with royal declarations and weddings. Still, we think it deserves its own story.
“I shot at Ulfsunda Castle because I wanted to create a feeling of indifferent luxury,” says Tobias. “The model Vanessa Hulot is French and I knew the styling would be quite elegant, so I wanted to play off that. But I didn’t want it to get too serious. It should be like “hey, I live in a castle but I don’t care!”
“That said, I didn’t want it to get too nice and clean,” adds Tobias. “That is why I wanted to add an element of surrealism to the equation. I didn’t just want elegance. I wanted it to feel a bit dirty and cool too.”
The location and the styling provided the elegance. The model’s expression provided a sense of indifference. And the lighting provided the dirt and cool.
Tobias brought a B1 Location Kit and two Light Shaping Tools to the shoot – the standard Zoom Reflector and the brand new octa softbox. He also brought a Softgrid and some colored gels with him. Camera-wise, he had a PhaseOne 645DF IQ140, with a Schneider 80 mm/or 55 mm, equipped with an Air Remote, so that Tobias could wirelessly sync and control his flashes.
“The short answer to why I shoot with Phase One is that the final result looks better,” says Tobias. “The clarity you get with these babies is just amazing.”
Lighting-wise, the plan was to use the B1 with a Zoom Reflector and green gel as fill light, and the B1 with the octa softbox as main light. The fill light would be set to slightly lower power and bounced off walls and roofs to flood the scene with green light. The main light would be set to a higher power and, thereby eliminating the green light wherever it hit Tobias’ subject.
“The setup was pretty simple,” says Tobias. “I’m usually obsessed with creating a clean, almost perfect light. But in this case I wanted it to be dirtier and ugly in nice-kind-of-way, if you know what I mean?
“The most challenging part of the shoot was rather that I had almost no time to prepare. The day of the shoot was my very first time at Ulfsunda Castle, which meant that I had to quickly scout the location and find a number of different spots to shoot at while the make up and styling was done.”
Tobias acted fast and found no less then seven different spots in this short amount of time.
Keep reading for a quick rundown how a few of them were created.
“The shot of Vanessa standing in front of the chandelier ended up being my favorite,” says Tobias. “I like her look in this one.
“I was obviously shooting from a very low position here, literally laying on my back on the floor. The fill light with the green gel was behind and to the right of me, bouncing off the wall and the ceiling. The main light, the ofta softbox, was standing camera left on a stand, just slightly above Vanessa. The octa softbox was also equipped with a Softgrid to a lightly more directed light.”
“The shot where Vanessa is laying on a pile of golden pillows was the most fun to shoot,” says Tobias. “This one was actually shot in the bathroom of the dressing room we were assigned to. It was the last shot we did that day. It was late in the afternoon, and we already had bunch of shots. But I felt that something was missing.
“That’s when I had this idea to put all the pillows from the dressing room on the bathroom floor, climb up on the toilet-seat and shoot Vanessa from above, lying on the pillows. I think it’s a nice example of the stupid situations you’re willing to put yourself in as a photographer to get your shot!
“In this case, both B1s were standing camera left. The one with the Zoom Reflector and the gel was quite far behind me and aimed directly at Vanessa. The main light, the octa softbox, was standing much closer and effectively overpowering the green light.
The rest of the shots were done in pretty much the same way, with slight variations to the position and angle of the flashes. But it was always two flashes, and they were always equipped with a Zoom Reflector with a green gel and a Softbox RFi 4’ Octa with a Softgrid.
“I like the new octa softbox, “says Tobias. “The three-foot octa is bit small to light a whole person, and the five-foot is a bit too big to bring on-location. The four-foot is just perfect. Plus its shape creates a beautiful round catch light. It looks almost like the sun.”
See more of Tobias work at his website.
2 x B1
1 x Speedring
1 x Zoom Reflector
1 x Air Remote
80mm Schneider on green envy 3 LS f/2.8
55mm Schneider for the rest
Photographer Tobias Björkgren
Stylist Madelene Billman
Hair & makeup Sofia Sjöberg
Model Vanessa Hulot
Assistant Felicia Linden