Using a light source in many ways, the Elinchrom 1.90 octa.

Some light sources can be used in many different ways, I’m an Elinchrom shooter and the two light sources I love most are the Deep Octa and the 1.90 Octa. With the Deep Octa it’s very clear you can use it in many different ways due to the way it has been build/designed by Elinchrom. You can remove the front material, the center diffuser, use deflectors etc. etc. however with the 1.90 octa there is often some more confusion and a lot of people think it can only be used to mimic window light, they are wrong….

Window light
The first thing you think about with the 1.90 octa is emulating window light.
And this is one of the things this modifier does very well. The large size and the fact that the strobe is mounted inside the box aimed to the back guarantees a very nice and even light quality over the whole box (there is less than 1/3 stop difference in every location). The main advantage for many people is especially the way the strobe is mounted, because it’s placed internally the box takes up less space than one would expect, you will need height in your studio of course but overall the size of the box is not as big as you might expect. One more thing you do have to realize that you need a good stand for the box with some weights on it if you want to be safe when using a boom. I use the Polystand from Elinchrom for the 1.90 octa.

As with all light sources, the light quality changes with the distance you use the light source on.
When taking into account the inverse square law (light falls off over a distance) you will soon realize that having a huge light source is very handy when you want soft light on full body shots where you also want to light the rest of the background, like in the first sample.

For this image the 1.90 octa was placed slightly from above and thus creating a nice light fall off on the background. A striplight was used from the back to create the accent, but the total look is the 1.90 octa.

Super soft ring light effect
We all know the ring light effects (not to be confused with the ring flash that is much harscher). Now you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get the same effect. Just use the 1.90 Octa. When you want a very flat light quality you can place the box behind you and that way create a very nice soft light quality falling on your model and eliminating almost every shadow. I have to add that (as many) don’t like the look when used “solo”. I need some depth and 3D feel in my images so what I normally will do is create highlights with accent lights and by placing strobe on the background you can create a bit more separation (depth).
In the end the results will look like this.

But a bit more flat will also work, in this case it’s the 1.90 octa without any accents in front of a white background, and the second image I added one accent light.

Aiming it correct
Well if you want a broad light source it’s clear I think, however when you place the octa correct you can create some very nice high-contrast like images with a quick light fall off. In the following shots the octa was placed very close to the model and aimed away from the background (slightly towards the camera)

Lighting the whole set
When you’re working in a room, or in the studio where you have created a set, the 1.90 Octa is great to use if you want a super soft light quality in the image, add some accent lights in the mix and you will have a great “glamour” quality in your images.

Using it as a white background
Of course you can also use it as a white background. Place the model in front of it, add some lights and there you go.

But what I like even better is to use a very small spot size and enhance only part of the model.
But even without that light source you can work wonders with the 1.90 octa. Place the model very close to the diffusion material and experiment with your angles, and you will be surprised what you can achieve.

Removing the front
This I love to do for some of the jump shots.
By removing the front material you will get a more “crispy” image with higher contrast due to the silver coating inside the box. This works of course also with other shots if you want to remove a little bit of softness.

The Elinchrom 1.9o Octa is one of the best soft light sources I know off, I can highly recommend it to everyone that wants a versatile light source. Before the Deep Octa was released I always told people that if you could buy just one light modifier this is the one to get, and I still stand behind that remark. However do remember that in fact when you know how to work with light many of the tips you have seen in this blog post can be translated to different light modifiers, but the 1.90 Octa is still I think the best option for the Elinchrom shooter.

As an extra bonus, here is a video from one of my instructional DVDs about the 1.90 Octa.

Feel free to comment and share.

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12 replies
  1. Frank
    Frank says:

    Really enjoyed this post Frank. All are outstanding but 4,5,6, and 11 are off the charts. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.


  2. Mette Brandt
    Mette Brandt says:

    Thank you Frank, love this post. About the hight, my studio is (only??) 3 meters high, do you think its to low for the 1,9 octa?

    I love your jump photo, cool!

    Have a nice day!


  3. Chris Gampat
    Chris Gampat says:

    Hey Frank,

    Just wanted to stop by and say that this is an awesome post and that I’m a huge fan of your photos and techniques.

    Talk soon!

    -Chris Gampat
    Lead Writer, BHInsights

  4. Sean McCormack
    Sean McCormack says:

    While I don’t have the 1.9 Octa, I do have a 5′ that I love. And I’m starting to use a small Hilite to give some of the effects too. Funny that you’ve put the video online now, because to me, that was the best bit on that DVD!

  5. tim
    tim says:

    Hey Frank on some of the shots it looks like the model is standing on white perspex am i correct if wrong can you tell me what you are using please

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