How to Get 3 Different Looks with a Photo Umbrella

A 45” PhotoFlex Umbrella is a really versatile tool. You can do a lot with it, really, provided you have a clear idea about what you’re doing. You may already have one like this, gathering dust somewhere in your home. Daniel Norton shares some simple yet effective tips to use an umbrella for three different looks:

Uniform Lighting on a White Backdrop

For the first look, Norton positions the model against a white wall. The 45” umbrella spills a lot of light past the model. As you can see from the image below, the background gets pure white. Plus, the large umbrella helps in lighting the model uniformly.

different looks with the same umbrella

An uniformly lit model with the 45″ umbrella.

Beauty Shot

For the second look, Norton uses the shiny silk side of the umbrella to light through. Norton explains this is essentially a beauty shot. The other change in the setup was the addition of a duvetyne. The duvetyne allows him to later isolate the model and replace the background during post-processing.

how to produce different looks with an umbrella

The second look with the Duvetyne forming the background

Classic Portrait

How to achieve three different looks with the same umbrella

The bottom half of the umbrella is covered.

For the final look, essentially a portrait look this time, Norton uses almost the same setup. The only change is that the bottom half of the umbrella is covered with a black fabric. This darkens the lower half of the body. The idea is to focus on the model’s face.

three looks with one umbrella

The final look with the focus on the model’s face

Bonus Tip for Shooting with an Umbrella

You can use your umbrella to also create a really moody lighting setup. Here, the umbrella was almost turned away from the model. Black flaps ensured that the light was not bouncing and spilling around. The result was this image, in a studio that was lit by daylight:

moody lighting with a gray background

A dark gray background creates a moody look.

These simple yet effective tips achieve a variety of creative looks with just one umbrella.

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