Photo Umbrellas for Photographers: 4 Tips

Getting bored of the results from using natural light? Then why not try your hand at flash photography? The only thing is, with the different lighting setups that include various light modifiers, flash photography can get confusing and too heavy on the pocket for many beginners. This isn’t always the case though. For instance, a shoot through umbrella is quite a budget friendly option for a light modifier. And with the right techniques, you can get some fantastic results. Photographer Gavin Hoey from Adorama demonstrates how you can achieve four different looks with one flash and a shoot through umbrella:

One important thing that you should keep in mind is the distance between the speed light and the surface of the umbrella. Having them too close to each other will light only a small portion of the umbrella. Have them too far apart, and you run the risk of light spilling over the edges. You thus need to determine the optimal distance where most of the umbrella is lit without light spilling all over.

Having the umbrella at a good distance from the subject creates a shadow with soft edges. Also, the diffused light creates an even exposure throughout the scene. This is perfect for scenarios where you’d want to avoid metering time and again.

“This is a very safe light. It isn’t exciting or dynamic.”

If you place the setup about 4-5ft from the subject, you’ll notice that the shadow becomes much softer. The lighting also becomes a lot more directional, and the overall image appears a lot moodier. You can also notice that the light falls off much more quickly in this case.

And if you move the light really close to the subject’s face, even with the speed light moved closer to the surface of the umbrella, you’ll notice some interesting results. The light wraps around the subject much better, and the subject becomes more illuminated than the background. This feature helps to put greater emphasis on the subject.

Definitely try your hand at using shoot through umbrellas if you’re getting started with flash photography. The return on investment is high, and you’re sure to love the results.

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