As the lighting enthusiast in film school in the late 1970s, my friends and colleagues suggested I invent a light and call it the “glow light” after my last name. I had to wait almost 40 years for that to become a reality, so I believe I was born to review my namesake light. Designed by Adorama, the Glow Softbox Octo 36 R is a flexible softbox that encloses almost any lighting instrument, while softening (and enlarging) the light’s output. The 36-inch diameter softbox folds to fit into a small pouch and may be erected in minutes when the need arises.
The 36-inch Octobox features a backward umbrella design. Weighing less than 2 pounds, the soft wrap of the 36-inch Octobox is created by the backwards umbrella design. The reflective fabric channels the light to either the white diffuser or the baffle and can easily handle the output of a 650-watt tungsten light. The Glow Octobox assembles easily with eight aluminum rods that slide into the fabric and the Velcro keeps the diffuser in place. Although the Glow Octolight does not come with a speed ring, most lights can easily be positioned to work with the unit. With a two-year warranty, the heat-and water-resistant fabric should handle multiple setups and tear downs. The manufacturer also states that the dyes protect the softbox from turning yellow with age.
I was anxious to receive Octobox Glow light for several reasons. I believe most people prefer a softer, diffused light when doing interior illumination. Whether it’s for beauty, fashion, portrait or just filmmaking, one of the reasons the Octobox is so versatile, is that it is simply a diffusion source that is placed in front of a light—turning that instrument into a soft light source.
The glow light was able to maintain light from spilling when using it with a blue screen. My first use with the enclosure was on a studio set with wood paneling and a blue screen backdrop. As you know, soft even light is critical when doing any green or blue screen work. A hard light source creates too many shadows and imperfections that are difficult to remove in post. In this instance, I used a 650-watt Mole-Richardson Tweenie Fresnel as our key light source. Using the Fresnel alone, although less harsh than an open-faced light, still created too many shadows on the blue screen background. Placing the Octobox in front of the Tweenie softened the light on our actress’ face and did not spill over on the blue screen making keying that much easier.
Also, simply moving the Octobox closer or farther from the light source changes the size and quality of the light—simple physics. Rarely does someone want to make a light source harder. Softer lighting is much more flattering especially when used in close proximity to the talent.
The second situation when the Glow Octobox was an asset was doing tabletop photography for a company who manufactures knee replacement parts. Shooting stainless steel objects against a white background was made possible with the Glow Octobox attached to a strobe light source. Using a strobe bounced into an umbrella did not achieve the highlights in the parts we desired. Using the strobe alone creates too harsh of a light and subsequent shadow. Putting the strobe inside the Octobox with diffusion on the front gave us the perfect combination of specular highlights without the shadow on the backdrop. With the strobe firing each time it was triggered by the camera we had the exact look the client wanted.
It most any situation, softening the light source creates a much more flattering look to the subject. Everywhere I shoot, the Octobox will travel with me.
Chuck Gloman is an associate professor and chair of the TV/Film Department at DeSales University. He may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
➤ FAST FACTS
To be used with most lights when you want to soften the unit’s output.
Large 36-inch diameter softbox with an almost 14-inch depth. Water-and heat-resistant fabrics make the unit durable as well as practical.