This blog was written by Former Westcott Top Pro, Author, and Professional Photographer Erik Valind. If you have any further questions for him regarding this post, be sure to leave a comment below OR you can contact him through his Author Page to visit his website.
With the additions of the Apollo Orb and the Apollo Strip to the Westcott Apollo line, we are presented with more options than ever when building a mobile lighting kit or running out the door to a photo shoot. There are certainly a number of differences between all the softboxes in the lineup now, and I want to mention a subtle yet obvious one – Shape. The specific shapes of each box come into play in how they shape light and how we apply them to our subject or scene, but lets focus even more. Lets zoom into the eyes of our subjects and take note of the shape of the catchlights we are creating and where they may be most appropriate.
The large square softboxes you are most likely to find in a studio are great. (Note the top B&W image of the three) They were originally designed to mimic big soft and beautiful window light. The Medium Apollo Softbox with 40° Grid (28") and Mega JS Apollo (50") softboxes are great for this. The square catchlights they leave in the subjects eye look natural as if you happened upon someone gazed out the window on an overcast afternoon. Below is an example of the Apollo 28 mimicking a small window light.
This same square catchlight might not strike you as so natural if you were to notice it in the eyes of model, say in the middle of a field for example… When looking around you’ll notice most outdoor light sources are round and way up high; street lamps, overhead lights, the sun, you name it. Thats why for the kind of work I do the Apollo Orb Octabox with 40° Grid (43") has quickly become my go to lighting modifier. I love the great out doors and can’t beat natural light some days, but when I need to recreate the sun or add to it the even directional light and round catchlight of the Orb is what I rely on.
Next time you’re in the mall or a department store take a look at the massive photos they have everywhere in the clothing aisles. Note the models eyes and see if you can figure out what modifiers the photographer used. It’s great practice. Just another tip to keep in mind when deciding just which tools to use in sculpting your next great shot. Happy shooting!