A while ago I blathered on and on about how much I like the Profoto RFi 4 foot octabox and how versatile I thought it is, especially in single person setups. I described a bunch of ways that I use it regularly but only showed one particular way I used it in that post.
This is a quick visual update to illustrate three really basic looks with identical subject, distance, and background that should give anyone interested a good idea of the broad brushstrokes of it's flexibility in terms of look.
After dinner with a couple of friends I chucked up a simple one light setup using the Profoto 4ft Octa with Heather. Above is the way one is supposed to use it. In other words with both the inner and outer diffusion panels in place.
For reference the light is on a portable boom stand with the mid-point of the octa about face level with Heather. It's angled down a bit to knock down the light hitting the top part of the corner in the background. That angle is also keeping the lower part of Heather a bit darker than the upper parts of her face and body. It's about 3-4 feet in front of H. and H. is about 6 or 7 feet from that corner. I'm shooting from below with a 50mm on full-frame. There's pretty much zero fill.
As you can see with both panels in place it's a nice smoooooth, even light that still has a bit of shape when positioned as above. Shape as in ability to light the background that's relatively far away with a bit of gradation.
Next we have the exact same setup but this time with the outer diffusion removed. Wow, that's a huge difference. We get a bit more specularity, shadows are much denser, and even more shape (for lack of a more descriptive term). Check out the difference in the background and the fall-off on Heather. It's still soft enough to be flattering but far more defining. I use it this way a lot. This is the same way I used in in the last post with Jehanne. Why does that setup look so different? Umm, well the amount of fill is drastically different with not a bunch of dense shadow.
No matter how much you fill the shadows the character of the light doesn't change. You still get a bit more definition, a quicker shadow transition, and a bit more pop in the highlights.
And last we have all diffusion removed (above as well as the rest of pictures in the post). Here it's soft-silver pebbled interior is acting a lot more like a giant parabolic-ish reflector. Note the edge of the octa projected onto the background now. Also note the radical difference in highlight specularity on Heather's face as well as the massive difference in shadow edge transition.
Truth be told I use it in this manner more than I should. I love those crisp highlights and ability to project the edge of the modifier onto things like the background, etc. Make no mistake this look is vastly different than a small bare reflector. Note the hard shadow edge on Heather's hand camera left but also note that the shadow part is not black.
Now imagine moving it around a bit, closer, farther away, changing background relationship, rearranging the fall-off patterns, only tearing the diffusion off half of it, etc, etc, etc. All of this is without a grid, adding that changes it up even more and adds a whole new set of characteristics when adjusting the angle of the box in relation to the subject and background. I really like most of my lighting modifiers, that's why I have them laying about but if push came to shove I might have to consider the Profoto 4ft Octa my desert island piece of kit, especially if combined with a grid.
My main purpose for these shots was to test if I could possibly stand using that yellow painted room as a backdrop for a workshop I'm hosting. I wanted to see how dark I could make it without a grid considering it's almost as bright as white. I find any sort of gold/yellow especially if it's light in tone very difficult to work with in color. This is about as dark as it can be made with only distance fall-off shooting 3/4 length people in that space.
All photos SOOC, made with a Canon 5DsR and Canon 24-105 f/4 L at 50mm. A single Profoto D2 (with the dome for the curious -- not a huge difference without in the 4ft octa) and the Profoto 4ft RFi Octabox.