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Umbrellas are a photographer’s best friend when it comes to manipulating lights. They are one of the most affordable light modifying tools available. They are the first tool a photographer uses before switching to softboxes and beauty dishes. They give some pretty amazing results and one shouldn’t be quick to grow out of them.
In a photoshoot with umbrellas, you can use them to diffuse or reflect light as per your needs. They are one of the most versatile light modifiers. If you are a photographer who travels often, umbrella lighting kits are lightweight, easily collapsible and you can carry them around effortlessly.
Uses of Photography Umbrellas
There are different types of photography umbrellas available in the market and their uses are many.
Also known as a shoot-through umbrella, a translucent umbrella diffuses light in a wide and soft manner. It is an inexpensive and handy way to soften the light from an off-camera source. This white umbrella for photography is often used in studios and wedding shoots.
Quite the opposite of a shoot-through umbrella, a reflective umbrella bounces the light back. It does not spread the light out which makes it easier to control.
Most photographers use a flash to light their subject. If used accurately, setting up an off-camera flash umbrella unit will help enhance the lighting.
In umbrella flash photography, balancing the ambient light with the power of the flash can help create a picture. A lower flash power with high shutter speed creates a more natural look while a higher flash power with slower shutter speed will create a more dramatic look.
Studio Umbrella Set Up
The best part about studio umbrella light setup is that the photographer can modify them as per their style. Using the shoot-through umbrella as the main fill light, one can fill the shadows with the help of a reflective umbrella by bouncing the light off it.
A convertible is for those photographers who constantly switch between diffusing and reflecting the lights. It is also used by beginners who can’t decide between the two. This studio umbrella is white and used for diffusion. It comes with a removable black cover with which it bounces the light back.
Outdoor Umbrella for Photography
Apart from choosing the type of umbrella, choosing the right size as per your needs is important as well.
Using a regular studio umbrella in an extremely windy condition is a task. Along with a large parabolic umbrella diffuser or reflector, a large umbrella light stand will be required to hold the lighting unit firm to the ground.
Softbox Umbrella Photography
A reflective studio umbrella light with a white or silver surface is used to maximize the light output and yet achieve a soft look. An even softer look can be using an attachable piece of white diffusing fabric turning it into an umbrella softbox.
Photography lighting umbrellas are designed to soften and diffuse light, ensuring that the subject is illuminated evenly. This helps in reducing harsh shadows and provides a natural and flattering look to the photographs. They are also affordable, portable, and versatile, making them a favorite choice among photographers.
Reflective umbrellas bounce the light off their inner surface onto the subject, while shoot-through umbrellas are translucent and allow light to pass through them. The former provides a more direct and intense light, while the latter offers a softer and more diffused illumination.
Parabolic umbrellas are deep and focus the light more than other types of umbrellas. This offers more directional control over the light, allowing photographers to achieve specific lighting effects and patterns.
While a regular rain umbrella might provide some diffusion, it’s not designed for photography purposes. Photography lighting umbrellas are specifically crafted to modify and control light effectively. Using a regular umbrella might not yield the desired results in terms of lighting quality.