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How to use light umbrellas

Umbrella lighting – lots of people have it, few actually know how to use it well. Even fewer know how to get the most out of your umbrella lighting set-up. But you will in just a couple of minutes.

Umbrella lights are one of the best investments for new videographers. They’re inexpensive, portable, and easy to set-up. There are probably thousands of umbrella light kits on Amazon with three lights for around $50. This makes umbrella lighting accessible.

The problem is that those kits don’t come with any training. A lot of kits don’t even tell you how to assemble them. Enter all the problems stage left.

I know this sounds like it’s redundant, but trust me, this needs to be written in stone. I’ve seen so many people using something they call an umbrella light that just isn’t.

The basics. An umbrella light used for video just has an expandable umbrella of diffusion material between the light and the subject you want to light. It’s usually set-up like this.

There are some umbrella lights that are reflective on the inside. While technically those are umbrella lights, they’re generally used for strobe photography, not video. If you have the reflective umbrella lights, you can point to umbrella away from the subject and let only the reflections shine out.

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about using an umbrella light. The goal of an umbrella light is to soften the light on your subject. It does this through a diffusion silk. The diffuser really just makes the light bigger. Here’s how that works.

When the light source projects all that light, it’s the size of the bulb (or bulbs if you have a multiple bulb source). The umbrella is much bigger than the bulb, so when the light from the bulb hits the umbrella, light permeates the diffuser, making the diffuser the size of the light instead of the bulb.

The size of the diffuser creates soft shadows that most people prefer for videos. This is the reason umbrella lights work.

The biggest change you will see in umbrella lights will come from movement. Most of the time, simply moving the umbrella closer to the subject will change the light. The closer the umbrella is the the subject, the less soft the shadows will be and the brighter the light will be.

You can also change the distance from the bulb to the inside of the umbrella in most lighting kits. Changing the distance between the bulb and the umbrella changes the diffusion of the light, making it softer or sharper, but it also changes the brightness What does that mean?

If you want your umbrella light to be softer, either change the distance from the subject or change the distance (make the gap bigger) from the light bulb to the umbrella.

That’s it really. And when I say that’s it, what I mean is, “Welcome to the glorious world of experimentation.” It’s similar to giving a child a box of crayons and paper and telling them, “That’s it.”

There are so many ways you can use an umbrella light. Watch this video if you want the visual scoop on how to use umbrella lights.

If you’re trying to up your video game, why not download my free guide. It’ll give you the perspective of almost 20 years of creating videos and tell you a lot of tips like this one on how to make them better.

Monday, July 29, 2019

How to Use Light Umbrellas

Light umbrellas are a photographer’s best friend when it comes to manipulating light sources to shoot different styles of photography. Before you start using a light umbrella, you need to decide which kind of umbrella best suits the style of photography you want to shoot. After you’ve decided on the right light umbrella, you need to know how to position it and adjust it to change the intensity of the light and shadows and get the perfect photo.

Edit Steps

Edit Choosing a Light Umbrella

  1. Choose a shoot-through umbrella if you want broader and softer light. Shoot-through umbrellas are ideal for shooting groups of people or larger areas. Shoot-through umbrellas are white so they allow light to pass through them. [1]

How to Use Light Umbrellas

  • A shoot-through umbrella will be positioned between your subject and the light source when shooting to diffuse the light before it reaches the subject.
  • Use a reflective umbrella if you want to maximize light output and direct light. Reflective umbrellas bounce light back directly onto a subject and are best for creating a crisp picture, such as a portrait. Reflective umbrellas have a black top and a silver shade for reflecting light. [2]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • A reflective umbrella will be placed with a light source between it and the subject to bounce the light back directly onto the subject when you shoot.
  • Select a convertible umbrella for the most versatile option. A convertible photography umbrella is white and has a removable black cover. These types of umbrellas can be used as both a shoot-through and a reflective umbrella and are ideal if you want to shoot a variety of subjects. [3]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Keep in mind that bigger umbrellas are also more versatile and give you more control than smaller ones. A umbrella will give you the most control over your lighting, but they are also harder to travel with and harder to open in smaller spaces.
  • Edit Shooting with a Shoot-Through Umbrella

    1. Face the shade of the umbrella away from your subject. Open and set up your umbrella so that the top is pointing at the subject. Make sure you have room to set up your light source on the other side of the umbrella. [4]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Remember that shoot-through umbrellas are best when you want to achieve a soft glow instead of directly illuminating your subject. They work well for indoor photography.
  • Aim your light source directly at your subject through the shade of the umbrella. Set up your light source on the other side of the umbrella from your subject. Turn on the light source and make sure that it fills up the underside of the umbrella evenly, with no light spilling over the edges. [5]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Move your light source further back from the umbrella if there are any spots that are brighter than others. Adjust the distance between the umbrella and the light until you get even coverage.
  • Adjust the angle of the light if you want to hide shadows. Change the angle at which the light source and umbrella are aimed at your subject to put the shadows behind the subject. This is especially important when you are shooting portraits. [6]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • You can play with the angles to create different shadow effects as well if you don’t want to completely get rid of shadows.
  • Edit Using a Reflective Umbrella

    1. Point the shade of the umbrella towards your subject. Open the umbrella and set it up so the top is pointing away from your subject. Make sure there is room between the umbrella and your subject to put your light source. [7]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Remember that reflective umbrellas are best used to brighten a subject by bouncing light back onto it.
  • Aim your light source away from your subject at the shade of the umbrella. Place your light source between your subject and the underside of the umbrella. Aim the light directly at the silver shade of the umbrella so it fills the entire underside evenly. [8]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Adjust the distance between the light source and the shade if there are any spots that are brighter than others until it is reflected evenly.
  • Change the position of the umbrella if you want to get stronger or softer light. Move the light closer to the umbrella to create stronger light and shadows. Move it further away to create softer light and shadows. [9]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • The center of the umbrella has the most light output. You can tilt the umbrella so that the center is aimed directly at your subject for the most direct light, or tilt it away so the sides are aimed at your subject for less direct light.
  • Edit References

    Cite error: tags exist, but no tag was found

    Last Updated: June 24, 2019 References

    This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow’s Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards.

    This article has been viewed 17,602 times.

    Light umbrellas are a photographer’s best friend when it comes to manipulating light sources to shoot different styles of photography. Before you start using a light umbrella, you need to decide which kind of umbrella best suits the style of photography you want to shoot. After you’ve decided on the right light umbrella, you need to know how to position it and adjust it to change the intensity of the light and shadows and get the perfect photo.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    u00a9 2020 wikiHow, Inc. All rights reserved. wikiHow, Inc. is the copyright holder of this image under U.S. and international copyright laws. This image is not licensed under the Creative Commons license applied to text content and some other images posted to the wikiHow website. This image may not be used by other entities without the express written consent of wikiHow, Inc.
    n

    Tip: Photography umbrellas can be used with any light source, so you don’t need to worry about what light source you are going to use when selecting an umbrella.

    Monday, July 29, 2019

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Light umbrellas are a photographer’s best friend when it comes to manipulating light sources to shoot different styles of photography. Before you start using a light umbrella, you need to decide which kind of umbrella best suits the style of photography you want to shoot. After you’ve decided on the right light umbrella, you need to know how to position it and adjust it to change the intensity of the light and shadows and get the perfect photo.

    Edit Steps

    Edit Choosing a Light Umbrella

    1. Choose a shoot-through umbrella if you want broader and softer light. Shoot-through umbrellas are ideal for shooting groups of people or larger areas. Shoot-through umbrellas are white so they allow light to pass through them. [1]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • A shoot-through umbrella will be positioned between your subject and the light source when shooting to diffuse the light before it reaches the subject.
  • Use a reflective umbrella if you want to maximize light output and direct light. Reflective umbrellas bounce light back directly onto a subject and are best for creating a crisp picture, such as a portrait. Reflective umbrellas have a black top and a silver shade for reflecting light. [2]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • A reflective umbrella will be placed with a light source between it and the subject to bounce the light back directly onto the subject when you shoot.
  • Select a convertible umbrella for the most versatile option. A convertible photography umbrella is white and has a removable black cover. These types of umbrellas can be used as both a shoot-through and a reflective umbrella and are ideal if you want to shoot a variety of subjects. [3]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Keep in mind that bigger umbrellas are also more versatile and give you more control than smaller ones. A umbrella will give you the most control over your lighting, but they are also harder to travel with and harder to open in smaller spaces.
  • Edit Shooting with a Shoot-Through Umbrella

    1. Face the shade of the umbrella away from your subject. Open and set up your umbrella so that the top is pointing at the subject. Make sure you have room to set up your light source on the other side of the umbrella. [4]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Remember that shoot-through umbrellas are best when you want to achieve a soft glow instead of directly illuminating your subject. They work well for indoor photography.
  • Aim your light source directly at your subject through the shade of the umbrella. Set up your light source on the other side of the umbrella from your subject. Turn on the light source and make sure that it fills up the underside of the umbrella evenly, with no light spilling over the edges. [5]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Move your light source further back from the umbrella if there are any spots that are brighter than others. Adjust the distance between the umbrella and the light until you get even coverage.
  • Adjust the angle of the light if you want to hide shadows. Change the angle at which the light source and umbrella are aimed at your subject to put the shadows behind the subject. This is especially important when you are shooting portraits. [6]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • You can play with the angles to create different shadow effects as well if you don’t want to completely get rid of shadows.
  • Edit Using a Reflective Umbrella

    1. Point the shade of the umbrella towards your subject. Open the umbrella and set it up so the top is pointing away from your subject. Make sure there is room between the umbrella and your subject to put your light source. [7]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Remember that reflective umbrellas are best used to brighten a subject by bouncing light back onto it.
  • Aim your light source away from your subject at the shade of the umbrella. Place your light source between your subject and the underside of the umbrella. Aim the light directly at the silver shade of the umbrella so it fills the entire underside evenly. [8]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • Adjust the distance between the light source and the shade if there are any spots that are brighter than others until it is reflected evenly.
  • Change the position of the umbrella if you want to get stronger or softer light. Move the light closer to the umbrella to create stronger light and shadows. Move it further away to create softer light and shadows. [9]

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • The center of the umbrella has the most light output. You can tilt the umbrella so that the center is aimed directly at your subject for the most direct light, or tilt it away so the sides are aimed at your subject for less direct light.
  • Edit References

    Cite error: tags exist, but no tag was found

    Many photographers quickly move on from umbrellas, because they can seem very hard to control and a bit unwieldy. However, umbrellas can be surprisingly versatile, and this great video will show you five ways to use them in your photos.

    Coming to you from Miguel Quiles, this helpful video will show you five ways he uses umbrellas to light his photos. Umbrellas are by far some of the cheapest lighting modifiers, so cheap that you can likely pick up both a silver and white model to experiment. They’re the modifier most photographers start out with, though many eventually leave them behind. Nonetheless, a lot of top-level photographers use them, particularly the very large versions (sometimes with a diffusion cloth), sometimes in tandem with other modifiers as well. As you’ll see, you can use them for a variety of purposes that create quite the range of looks. Pay particular attention to Quiles talking about the different types of umbrellas and material at the beginning of the video, as these choices can have a large effect on the outcome of your images and how easy the umbrellas are to work with on set. Check out the video above for the full rundown.

    Umbrellas serve an important purpose to people. Apart from protecting them from the heat of the sun, they also keep them dry when it rains.

    But not many people are aware that the umbrella also serves photographers well. This tool helps them in the lighting aspect of photography particularly when shooting indoors.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    “Umbrellla Sunset” captured by Keith Willette

    Using this sun and rain protection tool is a great help for those serious in their photography hobby. In particular, it assists photographers in achieving professionally lit images.

    The umbrella diffuses light to enable you to achieve a softer lighting in your images. So instead of letting light directly focus on the subject, the umbrella bounces off the light in different directions. The result is a clearer image with softer shadows—or no shadows at all.

    Basically, there are two colors of umbrella you can use when shooting. These are the black/silver and white, each with its own purpose.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    “me + umbrella” captured by robert wiegmann

    A white umbrella is normally best to use for indoor photography. This needs to be open when using it to achieve a softer glow. To use it, you have to shoot light directly through the umbrella for a softer appearance.

    There are also other techniques that you should keep in mind. To get rid of shadows, for instance, you need to angle your light. Put the umbrella in a position that will put the shadow behind your subject. This tactic is usually best for shooting portraits.

    The black/silver umbrella, on the other hand, is utilized to brighten your subject. This is not just pure black; it’s a combination of black on the outside and silver on the inside. This type of umbrella directs light on the silver or inner part of the tool so that it brightens a subject. Take note that despite light directed on the subject, the umbrella helps in preventing a washed out image.

    For a brighter image, the best technique is to use a combination of the white and black/silver umbrella. This will enable you to eliminate the shadow and make your subject glow.

    A good tip is to use the black/silver umbrella as your main source of light and then use the white one to diffuse the light for a softer appearance.

    It’s important to note that for those of you who want to be more creative in your images, just using the built-in flash may not be a good idea; it can create shadows and can make your subject a bit one-dimensional. But if you move the light source away from your subject and use an umbrella or any other type of diffuser, you can create softer light and achieve a clearer photo.

    Keep in mind that the size of the subject and the source of light affects the harshness of the shadows. In other words, a harsh light is the result of a small light source, while a big light source will provide softer light on your subject.

    If you’re after energy efficiency, you can use LEDs and fluorescents. They are great alternatives to the hot lights and are ideal for HD video and digital stills.

    Patio umbrella lights offer an ambient glow for those evenings too nice to sit indoors. You can add both electric and solar umbrella light to standard patio umbrellas.

    Things You’ll Need

    Plastic cable or zip ties

    Scissors or nail clippers

    Outdoors-rated extension cord

    Step 1: Detach the Umbrella

    Remove the umbrella from its stand and lower portion of the pole; lean the umbrella on its side open on a soft surface such as grass or a blanket.

    Step 2: Attach Clips to Hold Light Strands

    Attach a light clip to the umbrella rib nearest you, approximately 2 inches from the center pole.

    Step 3: Secure With Ties

    Tighten the zip tie or band that holds the clip in place so it is snug against the umbrella rib.

    Step 4: Five Clips per Rib

    Secure four more clips, equally spaced, to the same umbrella rib, keeping them away from the opening and closing mechanisms that slide when you operate the umbrella. The exact number of clips per rib may vary by manufacturer; count the clips to determine how many to use on each rib.

    Step 5: Attach Clips to Other Ribs

    Attach five clips to each additional umbrella rib, spacing them to match the clips on the first umbrella rib securing them in place with the cable or zip ties.

    Step 6: Trim Tie Excess

    Trim the excess length off each zip tie or band using scissors or nail clippers.

    Step 7: Wrap Collar Around Pole

    Detach the lining material from the adhesive tape on the inside of the soft band and secure the band 2 inches down from the top of the pole away from the mechanism that opens and closes the umbrella. The collar holds the light-strand grouping to the umbrella pole.

    Step 8: Attach Light Strands

    Hold a light strand near an adjacent umbrella rib, clipping the strand to the rib working from the center of the rib outwards. Insert the first light slightly in front of the first clip. Pull and straighten the strand as you work to remove slack, securing the light strand tightly into place with the clips. Clip the remaining light strands along their adjacent umbrella ribs. Insert the umbrella into the lower part of the pole and stand it up in the base.

    Step 9: Position the Cord

    Slide the cord for the power receptacle included with the light kit through the hole in the patio table, if using the umbrella in a table. You may need to temporarily remove the lower umbrella pole to do so. Reinsert the top portion of the umbrella pole into the lower portion so the umbrella is open and in position.

    Step 10: Attach Power

    Clip the power receptacle pack onto the umbrella pole using the zip ties or bands included in the light kit. Plug the umbrella lights into the receptacle pack. Plug the receptacle pack into an outdoor-rated extension cord.

    • Count the ribs and measure the size of your patio umbrella before purchasing a light kit to ensure the lights are compatible with your umbrella.

    Warning

    • Use only extension cords rated for outdoor use. Unplug the lights and the extension cord after each use.
    • Do not use metal twist ties to secure the light strands to the umbrella ribs.

    Solar Umbrella Lights

    Solar patio umbrella lights attach to umbrellas in much the same way as their electric relatives, without requiring a power cord or power receptacle to create light. Instead, the light kit includes a solar panel attached to a clip. Secure the solar panel, panel-side up, to the vent on the patio umbrella on the outside of the umbrella so it can receive full sun. If necessary, adjust the location of the solar panel so it receives the maximum amount of sun every day — it won’t charge very well if it’s in the shade most of the afternoon.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Kathy Adams

    Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She’s written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.

    LIVE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP

    Umbrella Lighting

    Recorded Live on 7th Nov 2019 – Now Available On Replay

    Often one of the first modifiers many photographers work with, umbrellas form the focus for this live workshop, where Karl covers everything you need to know about these popular modifiers.

    Affordable, portable & versatile lighting solutions

    Understand different types of umbrellas

    Advantages and disadvantages of umbrella lighting

    Creative lighting techniques

    Lighting modifier comparisons

    Ask your questions

    Available on replay

    Everything you need to know about umbrella lighting

    In our ‘Umbrella Lighting’ live show , I took a closer look at these popular modifiers, exploring the science behind them, demonstrating how they work and show you exactly how to use them. But for those of you who haven’t yet watched the show, below is some of the key information you need to know about umbrellas (all of this is covered in much more detail in the show).

    What are umbrella lights used for in photography?

    If you’ve ever bought a studio lighting kit, chances are a couple of umbrellas were thrown in too, which means you’ll have at least some knowledge of what they are and how to use them. If you’re totally new to studio lighting, umbrellas are lighting modifiers that are compatible with both studio lights or speedlites and can be used to achieve a few different looks.

    Available as shoot-through, reflective or deep, umbrella modifiers are most commonly used for portrait or fashion photography due to the soft, diffused light the shoot-throughs produce and the more contrasty sparkle on reflective silver umbrellas (though I did use an umbrella to mimic natural sunlight in this food shot ).

    Different types of photography umbrellas

    As I’ve already touched on, there are a few different types of umbrellas. These include shoot-through, reflective and deep (sometimes referred to as parabolic) umbrellas, each of which are often available in different sizes.

    Shoot-through umbrellas, as the name suggests, are made of white, translucent material which allows you to shoot the light directly through them. Reflective umbrellas have a black outer material and either a white, silver or gold interior lining. Deep umbrellas are similar to reflective umbrellas in that they have a black outer coating and a silver inner lining but are slightly deeper and more parabolic in shape.

    In the show I show you how the different types of umbrellas work in the live show and explain the benefits of each, showing a clear comparison of their results.

    Do you know the difference between shoot-through, reflective and deep umbrellas? Each of the images above were taken using a different umbrella, but can you tell which was which?

    How to use a photography umbrella

    There are endless ways to use photography umbrellas — from creating high-key fashion style images to bright, punchy lighting for portraits. In this live show I not only show you how to use umbrellas, I also explain when to use umbrellas and outline some creative techniques for using them.

    In many of our courses you’ll see me use modifiers such as softboxes, reflectors and grids and even more expensive light shapers such as ring flashes and paras. But what if I told you that instead of using a $3000 ring flash, you could use a $200 umbrella and get even better results? That’s exactly what I demonstrate in this show — explaining the advantages of umbrellas and how they can be used to get the best results (and what I proved in this past live show ).

    Remember, the information in this post only touches on a part of what there is to know about umbrella lighting. To learn more, sign up to Karl Taylor Education and get access to thousands of courses and live shows, where you’ll learn both the theory and practical of studio photography.

    If you’re reading this article in your email because you’ve subscribed to our site via email, then be sure not to miss this video associated with the post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjymFMtNYr0&feature=plcp

    In the video, we go through the various types of umbrellas that can be used in flash photography, and what each of them are used for.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas Learn how to use umbrellas in flash photography

    The white shoot-through umbrella

    White translucent umbrellas are used as an inexpensive and effective way to spread out a light that will cover approximately a 1.5 yard (1.4 meter) area.

    Shoot through umbrellas are, in our opinion, the best type of lighting modifier for beginning flash photographers. The reason we like using these umbrellas is that they create very soft light, they are inexpensive, and they have a wide enough lighting pattern that they are easy to position and aim. Using a shoot through can cover up a lot of rookie mistakes made by newer flash photographers.

    The drawback to this and all types of umbrella is that they are easily breakable. If there is any wind when using these on-location, the spokes can be broken, or it could catch the wind and knock over the light stand.

    One tip to keep in mind when using this type of umbrella is to flip down the small on-flash diffuser onto the flash head so that the light is spread across the entire size of the umbrella.

    The silver reflective umbrella

    Silver reflective umbrellas throw light EVERYWHERE within a 180 degree radius. The wide and even pattern of light created by a silver umbrella makes them perfect for lighting groups, though they have less application for shooting portraits of individuals or couples, because it is difficult to achieve good shadows with this type of umbrella.

    Unlike shoot-through umbrellas that are placed between the flash and the model, silver reflective umbrellas function by pointing the flash away from the group, and then the silver umbrella bounces the light back onto the people.

    Silver umbrellas are my go-to tool for shooting family reunions and groups. I simply set up the camera on a tripod about 15 to 20 feet (6.1 meters) from the group, then I set up one reflective umbrella on a light stand to either side of me. This setup always produces simple even lighting for larger groups.

    The parabolic umbrella

    Parabolic umbrellas have become very fashionable in the last few years. Pioneered by Paul C. Buff, this type of umbrella focuses the flash pattern and creates a quality of light with high specularity.

    Should I buy an umbrella or a softbox?

    Newer flash photographers are always eager to spring for the softbox. Honestly, I think it is because softboxes LOOK more professional than umbrellas. While it isn’t terribly difficult to work with a softbox, I still find that most students do better by learning with an umbrella first. Umbrellas cover up many mistakes that newer flash photographers make in positioning the light, because umbrellas throw a wider pattern of light onto the subject. If you’re looking for exactly which lighting modifiers we recommend, check out this article.

    19 thoughts on “How to Use Umbrellas in Flash Photography”

    Excelente. Ganhei um kit com 1 Sombrinha Branca e uma Prateada, Porém não tenho experiência com esse tipo de iluminação, esse artigo serviu justamente para isso, me esclarecer como usar cada tipo, e sua aplicação. Muito Obrigado,Ótimas Dicas, Bom Trabalho. TKS

    Audio tip. Make both your voice volumes the same in stereo using a pan/expand effect or make them mono.

    Audio tip. You guys need to make your voice volume the same in each channel by using a pan/expand effect or by making them mono. It’s a lot easier on the listeners.

    Sorry for the two comments. I hit post and it disappeared as though it did not go through.

    Great video! Thank you! Dustin, where did you get your t-shirt? I love it.

    “Umbrellas cover up many mistakes that newer flash photographers make”

    I prefer to teach people to learn from their mistakes and not hide them. If the new flash photographers don’t know they made a mistake how will they know they made them or what the mistake was.

    The main reason I tell newcomers to get the umbrella (before getting a softbox) is because they are cheaper. The softbox has slightly steeper learning curve but they will see their mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them straightaway.

    What Is Frontal Lighting?

    Things You’ll Need

    • Digital SLR camera
    • 2 bounce umbrellas
    • 2 strobes, flash units or continuous light heads
    • 2 light stands

    Reflective bounce umbrellas are often used on location because they are relatively cheap, portable and cast a broad light that is suitable for many location assignments. Bounce umbrellas are applicable in the studio. The broad light is effective with shots against white backgrounds, environmental sets or when the umbrella is positioned close to the subject.

    Duo Umbrella Technique

    Set up two light stands with strobes, flash heads or continuous light source. Extend the light stand until the light head is slightly above the subject.

    Release the umbrella springs, and open the umbrellas until the spring lock toward the top of the umbrella staff is engaged.

    Attach a bounce umbrella to each light stand or light head, and point the light head toward the reflective interior surface of the open umbrella. The light stand or light head should have a wedge that accepts the staff of the umbrella. If there is no wedge, it may be necessary to purchase an umbrella mount or adapter.

    Position one light stand approximately 5 feet in front and 45 degrees to the left of the subject. Position the other stand the same distance from the subject, and at 45 degrees to the right. Position the stands so that the reflective interior surface of the umbrella is pointing at the subject.

    Set one light source to full power, and set the other 1 to 4 stops lower. This will add dimensionality.

    Set the camera to 100 ISO and between f/8 and f/11, and fire off a few test shots.

    Review the shots on the camera. If they are over-exposed and washed out, then try a narrower aperture (i.e. higher f/number), or increase the subject-to-light distance of both lights or reduce the power setting on both lights. If the shots are under-exposed and dark, then use a wider aperture (i.e. lower f/number), or reduce the subject-to-light distance of both lights or increase the power setting on both lights.

    Note the f/number, distance and light power settings for the best shots.

    Experiment by maintaining the distance and power settings, but repositioning the stands at different angles to the subject. Illuminate from 90 degrees on both sides, or position the key light (high power) to illuminate the front at 45 degrees, and position the second light roughly opposite to illuminate the back of the subject. Always remember to keep the umbrella out of the frame when taking the shot.

    Bounce umbrellas cast broad and relatively uncontrolled light that may be more suitable against a white background, or for shots that incorporate the setting or environment. A single studio bounce umbrella may generate the best results when positioned at narrower angles to the subject. Shortening the subject-to-umbrella distance reduces the spread of the light. A single studio bounce umbrella positioned close to the subject can be suitable for headshot photography.

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    So it’s come to this: umbrella vs. soft box lighting. Who will win? Well, it should come as no surprise to you that it all depends on what kind of shot you want. Both of these types of lighting diffusion have a way of going about their business. So definitely give them a test drive, but this post will act as a guide. Do you want more control over your light? Do you want the light to cover a small area, or a broader area? Watch and learn.

    Soft-box lighting and umbrella lighting are kinds of light diffusion, they aren’t lights themselves. As always, the type of shot you want will dictate which one you want to use.

    Umbrella Lighting Features:

    • Simple, cheap
    • Allows your light to cover a broad area of space
    • Two ways to use the umbrella…one is to aim the light into the umbrella and bounce it back to the subject, or blast light through the umbrella to actually light the subject. Both techniques give you soft lighting and can mimic outdoor lighting with a high-intensity bulb.

    Soft Box, aka Light Banks, Features:

    • Creates more of a directional light source
    • Produce a narrow range of field allowing for more control over the light on your subject.
    • Produces soft look like light coming from a window

    Breaking it down:

    Use soft box lighting when you want more control and a smoother look for subjects, like people.

    Umbrella diffusion lights a broader area, ideal for backdrops and location shoots. Make sure your subject is far enough away from the background to avoid light spill.

    And if you’re still not satisfied, test them both out to get the look you’re seeking.

    Want more lighting tips? Here are a couple of other bits of knowledge:

    Hey I’m Stephen Schweickart and today on this episode of the Reel Rebel I’m hosting a battle royal between 2 mortal enemies. Soft box lighting versus umbrella lighting– LET’S GET IT ON!

    A frequent lighting question we get here at VScreen is, “Which lights are better– umbrella lights or soft box lights?”

    Pump those brakes! Umbrellas and soft boxes aren’t lights!! They are two types of light diffusion! Now you know, “what type of diffusion should I use?” is the better question. The look you want to achieve with your video will dictate which diffusion type is best suited to your needs.

    The umbrella (pops umbrella open)– I hope I don’t get seven years bad luck. As if being and simple and cheap weren’t enough, they also allow your light to cover a broad area of space.
    There are two different ways to implement your umbrella diffusion. One, you direct your light into the umbrella and bounce it back onto your subject. Second, you can blast the light directly through the umbrella to light your subject. Both techniques will produce soft lighting that can mimic outdoor lighting when using a high-intensity bulb.

    Soft boxes, also known as ‘Lightbanks,’ create a more directional light source. They produce a narrow range of field allowing for more control over the light on your subject. You can also add ‘a grid’ to the inside of the Soft Box to diffuse the light even more. It creates a soft look similar to light produced by a window which makes skin appear smoother. Since the light coming through a Soft Box is already being diffused, the bulb doesn’t need to be as bright or as intense as umbrella diffusion requires.

    With so many ways and recommendations for lighting, I’m going to give you a basic break down. If you’re looking for a smoother look and more control , use Soft Box diffusion for your subjects, like people. Umbrella diffusion lights a broader area making it ideal for backdrops and on location shoots, but make sure your talent is far enough away from the background to prevent light spill.

    Remember that your setup will definitely change depending on the look you’re wanting to create. Now, shine a little light on that subscribe button below and let me brighten your week with more helpful video tips.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Umbrellas are used extensively to adjust the amount of light for photography and films. A flash or strobe light is connected or attached to the umbrella holder that points into the umbrella. These lights are automatically triggered in synchronisation with the camera or are triggered by pressing a button over the camera.

    These umbrellas help the light to diffuse before hitting the subject, and prevent any unwanted shadows or flares in the picture taken.

    Setting up umbrellas for photography is an extremely simple task, and one can easily install these if they have the equipment.

    Things Required:

    – Umbrella stand
    – Umbrella holder
    – External flash
    – Trigger (optional)
    – Photography umbrella

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    Instructions

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    Place the umbrella stand in an upright position by spreading out its tripod legs. Tighten up the screws of the legs into place by turning the knob to secure the stand properly on the ground. Make sure that you have placed the stand on a flat surface.

    Now fit the umbrella holder at the top of the stand. The holder has a hot shoe at the top and a circular hole at the bottom. Take the brass bushing, and insert it at the top of the stand into the umbrella holder. Tighten up the screw to secure the holder perfectly in the umbrella.

    Once your holder has been securely installed, slide in the flash or strobe light into the hot shoe. Tighten up the screw to secure the light. If you are using a triggered flash, then it is better that you twist it at the bottom of the light to fit in the whole unit in the hot shoe.

    After installing the light, pop out the umbrella. Slide the rod into the cylindrical hole that is located in the middle of the holder. Make sure that you keep the rod lower than the umbrella. Tighten up the screw to secure the rod.

    Once you have installed the umbrella flash or strobe light, it is time to adjust the angle of the light. Make sure that the light point right towards the centre of the umbrella. A knob is located right above the hot shoe. Turn it to adjust the angle. Once the angle is adjusted, tighten up the screw to secure its place.

    After setting up the umbrella flash or strobe light, one should inspect whether it is perfectly installed by taking a couple of pictures. Refine your adjustments if required by determining the pictures.

    The umbrella is one of the most underrated modifiers in photography, I think. It’s one of the first that many of us usually encounter once we start working with speedlights or strobes, and Bowens even used to include umbrellas in their strobe kits.

    But we often feel that we “outgrow” them, in favour of softboxes and beauty dishes. This video from photographer Miguel Quiles, however, demonstrates that we shouldn’t be so quick to discount umbrellas. He shows us five ways to use umbrellas to get some pretty amazing results.

    Miguel talks about the properties of umbrellas used in different ways (such as bounce vs shoot-through) and the variety of uses they can offer. They are a very versatile modifier, and if you need to travel with kit, then they’re very lightweight, too.

    The best thing about umbrellas for me, and what kept me using them on location for such a long time, is that they’re pretty cheap (I favour the silver/white convertible umbrellas). They’re certainly cheaper than softboxes. Sure, they can’t replicate the look of a softbox exactly, but they can still offer very attractive presentation of light on your subject, and if they get damaged on location, they’re easy to replace. And they can damage quite easily at certain types of location. I typically photograph people in rivers, woodland and other natural landscapes. At one point a few years ago, it almost felt like umbrellas were a consumable they were dying that often.

    If you’ve not pulled out the umbrellas for a while, or if you’ve never tried umbrellas before, have a watch of the video and see if it sparks some inspiration.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

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    How to Use Light Umbrellas

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    How to Use Light Umbrellas

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    Home » Arts & Entertainment » How To Set Up Photography Umbrella Lights

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Professional photographers need to brighten the work studios when taking photographs. This can be done by investing in a good light kit or some basic photo lights. However, a basic three-light set up with umbrellas works best for all types of photography.

    How to Use Light UmbrellasPhotography umbrella lights aid in adjusting the amount of light while filming or photographing. The umbrella is attached with a strobe light, which points in to the umbrella. These lights are triggered when a button is pressed from the camera. The umbrellas diffuse the light before it hits a subject and it aids in removing any unwanted shadows in the pictures shot. The photographs taken turn out to be even this way, and less harsh as they produce the softest light when white umbrellas with black backing are used. White umbrellas are best for indoor photography. For creation of shadows, use silver, gold, or reflective gold umbrellas. Black/silver umbrellas brighten subjects. So black/silver and white umbrellas are combined usually when photographers do a shoot. Photography umbrella lights are the best primary source of lighting for photographers, while softbox and reflectors are secondary.

    When setting up and positioning photography umbrella lights, you will have to experiment with a subject for the photo shoot so that you can check the lighting positions and make the best photographs. For the shoot, you will have the entire setup ready this way. To set up photography umbrellas lights correctly, follow these simple steps:

    • Umbrella stand
    • External flash
    • Photography umbrella
    • Trigger (optional)
    • Umbrella holder
    • Camera
    1. Set the umbrella stand upright and spread open its legs. Tighten the screws on the legs by turning the knob. This will secure the stand onto the ground correctly.
    1. Fit the umbrella holder on top of the stand, and insert the brass pushing at the top of the stand in the umbrella holder. Tighten the screw so that the holder fits in the umbrella.
    1. When the holder is securely installed, slide in the strobe light in the hot shoe. Secure it by tightening the screw.
    1. Now pop open the umbrella, and slide the rod in the cylindrical hole located at the middle of the holder. The rod should be lower than the umbrella.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    1. Adjust the angle of the light and ensure the light points towards the center of the umbrella. Turn the knob above the hot shoe to adjust the angle. Tighten the screw to set the place.
    1. Take a few pictures to check the settings of your lighting. Refine the lighting if required.

    You will have to set a test subject and take a few photographs when you have the photo lights set in the general positions. You will get the best possible approximation of what your lighting will look like with the actual subject if the test subject is the same size and shape. Check how the photos come out. If you are not satisfied with the results, you can adjust the height and position of the lights till you get a satisfactory result.

    Has this article helped you? Leave your thoughts and comments below to tell us about it. If you want to Learn How To do anything specifically, let us know and we will write on the subject to guide you. Our website is designed to teach our readers about all the basics of life and answer the questions on solving problems we get tangled in at home. So get in touch with us and share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box below!

    Light is very important when taking a photo, which is why a lighting umbrella might be so useful. All photographs are made up of light, and a lack of light could result in your photo being underexposed. Too much light, and the photo could be over-exposed. Getting the light just right can be challenging when working indoors and especially outdoors. Lighting umbrellas can be used to provide an even and portable source of light.

    A lighting umbrella works by creating a diffused light, which is much less subtle than a direct flash. The light is bounced off the umbrella which naturally diffuses it. If you are taking any photos, then you might want to discover why you need to use a lighting umbrella.

    Shadows

    When working with a direct flash, the objects in the photo will be exposed to a harsh light. This can create harsh shadows, which might affect the quality of your picture. A lighting umbrella can minimize these shadows because the light is reflected through the umbrella. The light is diffused through the curved surface, which will minimize the shadows.

    Multiple Light Sources

    Using one lighting umbrella will minimize the shadows. However, using multiple umbrellas can virtually eliminate all of the shadows in an image. This is only normally possible in a studio as they are fairly difficult to set up. The different light sources can be positioned at different angles to provide a move even light.

    Choosing Equipment

    When you want to use a lighting umbrella, you need to choose the right equipment. A lighting umbrella kit is an important thing to purchase as this contains the umbrella itself. You will also need a flash and may need a flash shoe. If you are using a flash which can be fitted onto a camera, then you will need a flash shoe. This holds the flash securely on the tripod. It’s worth using wireless flash guns which can be triggered without any wires.

    There are also studio lights which can be mounted directly onto a tripod without any specialist adapters. There are also some kits available which include everything you need. These can be found easily in many photography stores.

    Shoot through or Reflected

    The most common use of an umbrella is to reflect the light from the flash gun. They can also be used as diffusers. These make good diffusers because they have curved fabric, which often works better than other diffusers.

    To use shoot through, you will need to be able to remove the black cover from the umbrella. Shoot through is only normally suitable for shooting at short distances. Reflected should be used wherever possible. If you are interested in shoot through, then you will need to choose an umbrella which has a removable back cover.

    A lighting umbrella is an ideal way to provide perfect lighting for your photographs. This makes it possible to ensure that the lighting is perfectly even and not too harsh.

    I have a studio with many types of modifiers, from fresnels to parabolic reflectors, but as a commercial photographer I still find myself using softboxes in much of my work.

    In our recent live show, I took a much closer look at the ever-popular softbox. But despite their popularity, there are many misconceptions about softboxes and some photographers still don’t understand the fundamentals of how they work.

    Softbox lighting & theory

    Now available to watch on replay

    Learn all you need to know about softboxes in this informative live photography workshop, where Karl takes a closer look at these versatile modifiers, explaining how they work and what sets them apart from other light shapers.

    How do softboxes work

    Most photographers are at least somewhat familiar with softboxes and the results they produce. Varied in shape, softboxes are basically box-like in shape and enclosed around a light (they work with flash light, continuous light or speedlites).

    The light source then fires forward through one or two internal diffusers and then one that covers the front of the ‘box’. After reflecting off the interior and passing through the diffuser(s), the result is the homogenous light characteristic of softboxes.

    Types of softboxes

    Known for their versatility, softboxes come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Shape-wise, they are generally rectangular or octagonal, although you can get square shaped ones too. Their size varies dramatically. For example, the smallest softbox in the broncolor range is just 35x60cm and the largest 120x180cm, with their octaboxes ranging from 75cm to 150cm (Elinchrom offer a larger 175cm octabox while Profoto offer a smaller 30x40cm softbox). This variety means you’re able to pick and choose the modifier best suited to your needs and achieve precise results with each one.

    Advantages of softboxes

    This versatility is one of the main advantages of softboxes. They can be used for anything from portrait to product photography and produce some amazing results.

    A further advantage is the ability to modify softboxes. Using accessories like grids, edge masks, strip masks or even additional diffusers, you can precisely control the effect of your softbox.

    Softboxes are also fairly lightweight and compact, which makes them ideal for working both in the studio and on location.

    Disadvantages of softboxes

    When it comes to cost, softboxes aren’t the cheapest modifiers available (but the good news is they aren’t the most expensive either). However, if you are on a tight budget some softboxes are compatible with speedlites. So if you’re looking to slowly grow your equipment, you could easily save yourself some cash by simply sticking with speedlites, using them with a softbox and upgrading to studio lights as and when you can.

    How to use softboxes

    Despite their popularity, you may be surprised by how many photographers don’t totally understand how to use and control softbox lighting. Most commonly, they tend to use softboxes too far away. Although this isn’t necessarily wrong, you can get much more from your softbox if you consider the following points:

    Distance from your subject

    How far away the light is from your subject will influence things like hardness or softness of the light. It will also impact the reflection in gloss surfaces (including eyes or glasses ). This is because of the effect the light has on directed reflections (for example, eyes or glasses) and diffused reflections (for example, matte skin, wood, matte plastic).

    By changing the distance of the light from your subject, these reflections will each be affected differently. While diffused reflections (such as on skin) will change according to the inverse square law, the same does not apply for directed reflections. Here, it is the light source itself that is reflected.

    For example, if we were photographing a model with the light placed further away, a higher power will be needed to achieve the correct exposure. This higher power will result in a brighter (yet smaller) reflection in the eye because the light source itself is brighter. If we were to bring the same light closer to the model, we would need to decrease the power of the light to achieve the same exposure. Because of this decreased power, the reflection of the light, although bigger, will be greatly reduced because the power is less.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

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    Wedding decorations set the theme of the evening. Get creative by turning ordinary objects, such as umbrellas, into works of art. There are many ways to hang umbrellas and the effects can range from whimsical to elegant. Hang your umbrellas in bunches, in a pattern, fill them with flowers, or add lights to them. Step outside the box and personalize your wedding with hanging umbrellas to create a wedding wonderland your guests will always remember.

    Umbrella Clusters

    Select umbrellas in a variety of sizes. Use colors that will work with your wedding decor. Consider using your wedding colors or all white for a chic effect. Scour secondhand stores for cheap umbrellas and spray paint them your desired colors for a budget friendly option.

    Plan out your clusters of umbrellas. Decide if you want multiple groups of umbrellas or just one large ceiling centerpiece. If you are doing multiple formations, create a selections of umbrellas that look good together. Tie these together as this will save time when you hang them.

    Hang your umbrellas, handle side up, at your wedding location. If you are using a full service venue, ask them to hang them and supervise to ensure it fits your vision. Group umbrellas together in different lengths so they cluster together.

    Umbrella Lights

    Collect light colored umbrellas to suspend from the ceiling.

    Decide where to hang your umbrellas. Place one above each table, a number of them over the dance floor, or randomly spread them across the room.

    Hang your umbrellas handle side up with string lights. Coil or cluster the remaining lights in the umbrella. If you do not like the look of the bare string lights hanging from the ceiling, remove the exposed light bulbs or wrap that portion in fabric.

    Umbrella Bouquets

    Pick out a selection of paper parasols to fill with flowers. The vase shape they create when half opened work well for standing flowers in. Use umbrellas for dramatic arrangements with hanging vines that spill over.

    Collect an arrangement of flowers. Dried flowers and artificial flowers work best as they are lighter and less likely to make the umbrellas unbalanced. Choose your flowers in colors that complement your wedding design.

    Hang your umbrellas, handles facing up, in different lengths. Some should be eye-level so that guests can appreciate the flower arrangements. Hang your umbrellas with vines higher. Fill your umbrellas with your flowers and arrange them in a pleasing manner.

    In this simple lighting tutorial, I discuss three different ways to create softly lit and dramatic images with a single reflective umbrella.

    A couple of weeks ago, I released a fairly simple and straight forward tutorial on how to use one light overhead in your portrait photography using a parabolic umbrella. Many of you wondered what those images would look like if I used a reflective umbrella instead of the parabolic softbox, and in the video above, I’ll show you those results.

    Remember that every modifier will have a different way of modifying your light source. The modifier you select will directly influence the overall quantity, quality, direction and, color of your light. To make things easier to see, I’ve included three example images below using the same camera, lens, approximate position/angle of light, and the subject/light being placed approximately the same distance from the background. Each image was using a different modifier, but exposed for approximately the correct exposure. Subjects aside, you can see that the quality of light is quite different with each of those light sources.

    Parabolic Softbox With Diffusion Versus 3×4-foot Softbox With Diffusion

    Profoto D1 500w w/ 59-inch Parabolic Softbox with 1-Stop Inner Diffusion and 1-Stop Outer Diffusion.

    Profoto D1 500w w/ Profoto 3×4-foot Softbox with 1-Stop Inner Diffusion and 1-Stop Outer Diffusion.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Parabolic Umbrella Versus 7-Foot Reflective Umbrella

    Profoto D1 500w w/ 59-inch Parabolic Softbox with 1-Stop Inner Diffusion and 1-Stop Outer Diffusion.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    • How to Use Light Umbrellas
    • How to Use Light Umbrellas
    • How to Use Light Umbrellas

    I hope that you guys enjoy the video. Please let me know if you guys have any questions in the comments section below.

    Jeff Rojas is an American photographer, author and educator based in New York City. His primary body of work includes portrait and fashion photography that has been published in both Elle and Esquire. Jeff also frequents as a photography instructor. His teaching experience includes platforms like CreativeLive, WPPI, the Photo Plus Expo, and APA.

    Umbrellas are things that most of us became familiar with at a young age. Accompanying rain boots and jackets, they keep rain from ruining hair-dos, splattering clothing, and drizzling on parades. Somewhere along the line, a great innovator realized the potential for umbrellas as a light modifier, and every photographer’s first flash modifier was born.

    Why Use An Umbrella?

    Umbrellas come in many shapes and sizes and are a popular choice for both studio and location photography. Deep, parabolic, shoot-through, bounce, enormous, pretty small – there are many options for many uses.

    Umbrellas are incredibly versatile, the garden-variety are inexpensive, they’re portable and simple to set up. While a traditional softbox must be assembled by sticking slightly flexible spokes into a speed ring and attaching inner and outer diffusion material, an umbrella just pops open in an instant, exactly like the ones meant to protect from wetness outdoors. Achieving soft light couldn’t be simpler than with an umbrella.

    A note about umbrellas though: they aren’t a tool of precision. Rather, they will scatter light all around, so that’s something to consider when deciding if an umbrella is the right device for the job.
    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    An Umbrella In Use

    Let’s take a look at an umbrella used with a speedlight on location in action. For this urban nighttime couple’s shoot which we dive into in full detail in our Premium tutorial, Lighting 201, a 43” Westcott umbrella fits the bill. Its portability made it a good choice for carrying to the location, and the scattered light of an umbrella worked to illuminate some of the area around the couple.

    Going into a shoot with a vision makes a huge difference, and this shot was envisioned to be taken with a wide angle lens from a low angle, with the cityscape behind the couple providing context and leading lines. To make this vision a reality, the couple was posed up a flight of stairs from the photographer, our own Pye Jirsa.

    The lens for the job was Canon’s 24-70mm f/2.8L II, used at its widest focal length to capture the large buildings for environment while keeping the scene fairly sharp when shooting wide open at f/2.8. Shooting wide open with a higher ISO of 800 are needed to let in plenty of light from a small flash.How to Use Light Umbrellas

    With framing and lens choice taken care of, we move on to lighting and method of capture. The light used was an inexpensive manual Neewer speedlight with the aforementioned Westcott 43” shoot-through white umbrella held on a light stand by an assistant.

    The speedlight is attached to the stand via a standard umbrella bracket – a piece that sits on top of a light stand with a cold shoe on top to hold a flash and a small hole underneath to put an umbrella shaft through to hold. The assistant is holding the light higher than the stand will reach, but another important reason to use an assistant with an umbrella outdoors is that they can quickly become a sail when with a breeze. No assistant? Drag along a sandbag. You may bemoan the excess weight, but not as much as you’d hate a broken speedlight because the wind whisked yours away and came it crashing down.How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Note the distance from the flash to the umbrella – you want to make sure it’s pulled back far enough to ensure the umbrella is filled with light. Too close, and you’ll only be illuminating a small portion in the center of the umbrella, effectively making your umbrella a smaller light source. On the same note, manually zoom the flash as wide as it will go to help spread the beam.

    [REWIND:] HOW TO: LIGHT OUTDOOR GROUP SHOTS WITH BARE BULB FLASHES

    Rear curtain sync was desired, in order to enhance any movement the couple made during the 1-second exposure used to let in ambient light in a dark scene. However, the Neewer flashes being fairly basic, rear curtain sync off camera wasn’t an option, at least when used as directed. Where there’s a will, there’s a way though. Rear curtain sync can be used during a long exposure with flashes that don’t have this feature – manually. To do this, take the trigger off the camera and hold it in your hand. Start the exposure and simply pop the flash via the handheld trigger toward the end of the exposure. It’ll likely take you some practice to get the timing right, but it can be done.

    To enhance the deep blue dusky sky, a combination of a CTO Gel on the flash and a manual white balance in-camera of 3K were used.

    So now you’ve seen what one cheap little umbrella can do. You can learn even more off-camera flash tips and tricks in our Premium tutorial, Lighting 201.

    Not too long ago, an old friend of mine started doing portrait photography. He wanted to get an umbrella and light stand, but he was uncertain of how to put all the pieces together along with his flash. I’ve tried researching this myself, and the information I found was pretty confusing. I was unable to find a single article or video online that clearly demonstrated how to do this. The good news is that it’s quite simple once you know what to look for.

    Light stand

    How sturdy a light stand you choose will depend on if you plan on using it outdoors at all. If you want to use a light stand outdoors, you’ll want the one that is very sturdy to withstand wind and weather issues. If you want to use reflectors or umbrellas on a light stand outdoors, they can catch a lot of wind, so you’ll want to choose wisely, and it is always a good idea to use sand bags to secure your light stand. For indoor only photography, you can stick to lighter weight stands.

    Choosing a light stand is pretty individual. I’ve typically seen them come in sizes up to 15 feet tall. Coming from a tall family, where there have been a number of people in the 6 to 6 � foot height range, I personally would caution against having the tallest light stand at only 7 or 8 feet tall. 8 feet sounds tall enough, but when you happen to run into a group of people who are very tall, it’s simply not enough, especially if you want to do portraits of them standing up.

    Some light stands are designed as background stands, which means that they will have a light on them to brighten up the background. These are always very short, because they are designed to be placed behind the subjects.

    Also, keep in mind that some light stands are cushioned whereas others are not. If you accidently open a lock that holds one of the stand’s sections, your flash drops down along with the section. The cushioned stands are capable of preventing the damage from the impact, and that’s why they are more expensive.

    Umbrella

    What kind of umbrella you choose is up to you. Some of my friends prefer the silver reflective umbrellas that hook up above the light stand, while others primarily use the white diffusing ones that point down toward the subjects from the light stand. The main difference between the two, simply stated, is that a silver reflective umbrella will produce slightly harsher and brighter light than a diffusing umbrella. When I was starting out, I wasn’t too sure which I wanted, so I managed to find umbrellas with a white interior and a removable silver exterior backing. These are also an excellent option.

    Since white diffusing umbrellas point down, they require some extra height from a stand. Imagine doing a portrait on somebody who is well over 6 feet tall, and you will begin to understand why I recommend having at least one very tall light stand, in the 9 foot or taller range. Sure, you can seat somebody who is “too tall”, but it is far better to give yourself the option to offer a variety of poses to all customers, regardless of height. And always remember to raise the top column of your light stand first. Otherwise, you might need a ladder to fully extend your stand.

    Umbrellas are available in different sizes. The bigger ones are for softer lighting. If you are just starting out, it does not really matter what size you pick. Just get an umbrella within 30″ to 50″ range, and it will work fine. Once you get more skilled with it, you can start thinking about different sizes.

    Adapter

    Once you’ve figured out what light stand and umbrella you want, you’ll need to have an adapter to put it all together. Try doing a web search for “light stand umbrella adapter” and you’ll see a variety of options. You will want one that has an umbrella opening and can tilt up and down. The tilting option is absolutely essential for umbrellas!

    Many light stand adapters have a hot shoe adapter already included, as well. You may or may not want to use it depending on your equipment. The hot shoe connector is usually screwed onto a bolt that has a �” tripod sized screw on the end.

    The umbrella opening is often a small empty hole that has a screw in it. To put your umbrella in it, you just loosen the screw, put your umbrella in, and tighten it until your umbrella is secure.

    The end of the light stand adapter that attaches onto the light stand often has a female adapter in it, so it can either screw onto the top of your light stand, if that is an option, or you can just remove it, like I do, then attach onto the light stand directly.

    Adapters are not limited in application to umbrella mounting. Sometimes, I put my flash on a stand with an adapter and attach other light modifiers. These modifiers usually (but not always) attach directly to the flash head. Some examples of these modifiers include colored gels, flash bulb accessories, beauty dishes, and snoots. When you have the right light stand and adapter, you can use them for a wide variety of applications.

    Guest writer: Catherine Elizabeth Abida

    In 1998, I saw what I believed to be a tornado forming over a small Western NY lake, grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures. I discovered almost immediately I was hooked on outdoor photography. Today I primarily shoot outdoor water scenes and have a real passion for waterfalls, rivers and streams. I also really enjoy macro photography which I do using a reversed lens. I am able to do portrait photography as well, and have instructed people on how to use off camera flash techniques and light modifiers, but my real love is and always will be beautiful nature scenes.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Trying to choose which type of light modifier to use for your next shoot really comes down to what effects you want to achieve, along with budget. Just like with lenses, there is no “one size fits all” solution to lighting. When it comes to working with your studio lights, you’ll need to select the right tool for your project.

    Benefits of Softboxes

    • Softer light
    • Less light spill
    • Variety of shapes
    • Adaptable

    Softboxes are the ideal lighting solution for portraits because of both their versatility and the ability to control light spill onto your background. Overall it makes shooting portraits extremely easy. They emulate the beautiful, soft, directional lighting produced by window light. Because you’re shooting through rather than relying on reflected light, your flash requires less power output than when using an umbrella to obtain the same lens aperture.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas Photo by Ryan Walsh , Featuring Savage Matte Black Vinyl Backdrop

    They are available in many shapes (rectangular, octagonal, square) and sizes. Softboxes are also slightly more complicated to set up and require some basic knowledge of balancing the main versus fill light so it won’t produce overly contrast lighting.

    Overall softboxes can be used as key, fill, or even a hair light. It’s best to start with the largest one you can afford since it will produce the softest light for your shoot. You can even add light modifiers to the softboxes like a honeycomb grid to broaden your lighting solutions.

    Benefits of Umbrellas

    • Economical
    • Great for beginners
    • Easy to use
    • Extremely portable

    Like a softbox, umbrellas provide beautiful, soft light, by modifying your existing lights into a larger light source. The umbrella’s two distinct advantages are portability and mobility. For an outdoor shoot you can bring along several umbrellas without any inconvenience.

    The downside to umbrellas? Be careful shooting outdoors on a windy day. Try using your camera bags (or sandbag weights) to secure the base of your light stand. When shooting indoors, an umbrella lights up a large part of the room therefore decreasing your control over how dark your background can be.

    If you do choose umbrellas, there are several different types to choose from:

    Shoot-through Umbrellas

    These are translucent white umbrellas whereby your light shoots through and onto the subject. The umbrella shaft is pointed away from the subject, reducing any chances of it accidentally injuring your subject. Translucent fabric creates maximum diffusion of your light source and beautiful, even fill onto your model.

    How to Use Light UmbrellasPhoto by Elias Butler, Featuring: Savage Black Economy Background Kit

    Reflective Umbrellas

    With the reflective umbrellas your light shoots into, and then bounces back onto the subject. This type of umbrella will have its shaft pointing at the subject which will prohibit you from getting in as close as your would with a shoot through umbrella. When used in this traditional position, they produce indirect, bounced light that may require more flash output from the light source you’re using.

    There are also versatile umbrellas that feature removable layers so you can go from a reflective (with either a silver, gold or black lining) all the way down to a shoot through.

    The best part of using umbrellas is their affordability (starting at around $10) and ease of use. (Novice assistants often struggle to assemble soft boxes! Anyone who’s opened a rain umbrella can set up a photographic umbrella). Because umbrellas produce a broad sweep of light, they are easier for beginners to use. Simply point an umbrella at a subject and you’ve got soft lighting!

    Still torn between the two? Savage offers several solutions for you. The Umbrella Softbox is a low cost way to achieve the same effect as a softbox with the ability to easily open and set up like a standard umbrella. There’s also the Multi-Function Umbrella Softbox that offers two light modifiers in one. Pairing it with a standard umbrella adapter allows you to achieve the soft directional light characteristics of a soft box. Remove the front diffuser and direct your flash in towards the softbox interior and you’ll achieve the increased contrast of a silver umbrella. It’s available in 25″ and 47″ diameter sizes.

    Brought to you by the photography experts at CowboyStudio

    4.29.2009

    Using Umbrellas as Light Modifiers

    Umbrellas are useful as light modifiers because they are quick to setup, easy to transport, and generally less espensive than other options. There are many umbrellas on the market in many different styles and knowing what each does will help you narrow down your choices.

    Shoot Through Umbrellas

    Shoot through umbrellas, also called white, soft, or translucent umbrellas, are one of the most common umbrellas used by photographers. When you need to diffuse your light source, shoot through umbrellas are a good choice. The material used will produce results similar to a softbox, diffusing your lighting source and softening the light that hits your subject.

    When you use a shoot through umbrella, position it between the light and your subject, adjusting the position of the light in regards to the umbrella until you get your desired effect.

    Reflective Umbrellas

    Reflective umbrellas are also useful modifiers, allowing you to bounce light directly onto your subject without the use of standard reflectors. This keeps your studio more organized and clean and still allows you to get the benefits of a reflective surface. Reflective umbrellas come in many different colors; black, silver, gold, and white are a few of the options available.

    Gold: Use gold reflectors to warm up your pictures.
    Silver: Silver reflectors can be used to brighten your picture, without affecting the color of the light.
    White: Use white reflectors to bounce light into shadows, without affecting the quanity, quality, or color of light being cast on your subject.
    Black: Black reflectors act in a subtractive manner, removing excess light from your photos.

    You will also notice that some umbrellas have black backing and some have white. An advantage of the black backing is that it will keep out more unwanted light and heighten the effect of your reflected light.

    When you use a reflective umbrella, position the light source between the umbrella and the subject, with the opening of the umbrella pointed towards the subject.

    Umbrella Size

    In both cases, the size of your umbrella will impact your end results. Just remember that the larger the umbrella, the more your light will be spread out. Using smaller umbrellas can give you more focus, while larger umbrellas can illuminate more area. This is something you’ll have to play with to know what you like best; most photographers learn with a 33″ umbrella because they are an inexpensive way to become familiar with how they work.

    Can anyone tell me how to set up an umbrella lighting system for a home based photography studio?

    One thing you need to know about umbrellas and that is they tend to be hot. Shoot-through umbrellas produce the softest light. Reflective umbrellas will create hot spots. Umbrellas are generally a good tool, but not best as THE tool. You would want to mix them with other light. Keep in mind that they usually produce more light and therefore are better off as a primary light source. Use a softbox or reflector as secondary. Be EXTREMELY careful to review the photos even after metering to insure no weird hot spots show up. I have found them to equalize my lighting (not what I want) when using a softbox even with My Elinchrom Quadra battery pack (a 60/30 split).

    I’m completetly new to this. What is the difference between shoot through, and reflective umbrellas?

    I’m completetly new to this. What is the difference between shoot through, and reflective umbrellas?

    I am sorry Irish, although I am a moderator I am at work all day. The fact that you’re asking this question tells me I need to pick your brain. You need to know I am a portrait photographer so I took for granted you knew what I was talking about. I need to ask a few questions and if you answer them I can give you a better perspective.

    What do you plan to light the umbrella’s with? This is HUGE because the answer will be different depending on whether you are using strobes or a flash gun.

    Do you know how to use or have any 5-in-1 reflectors? Do you own a light stand or a reflector holder? Do you know what a translucent reflector is?

    Do you know how TTL works and how to use flash in manual mode? Do you know how to use a light meter and do you own one?

    Just so you know, if the answer is no to any of these questions or all of them PLEASE say so. I will tailor the answer accordingly to get you going in the right direction. I am here to help, not belittle. Just so you know I teach photo classes locally so I am used to this kind of thing. PLEASE don’t take it personally!

    Hello,
    Pretty much the question that was asked applies to me as well. I have 2 umbrellas, a white one and a black with silver one, they both have a stand and are continuous not strobe. I want use them to take portraits, mainly kids. And as for the rest of the questions its a no.
    Thank you,
    Andrea

    Well, with the continuous lighting it makes it easier. First thing you need to be careful with is mixing light colors. Sometimes digital cameras auto white balance has trouble with multiple colors in the light spectrum. Try to avoid it or use a custom white balance if multiple colors are used. To give you an idea, translucence sometimes casts a greenish tint and gold or gold/silver casts an orange tint. I recommend uniformity to make life easier for you photographically. If using a primary and secondary light, use the same color umbrella for both unless it is for some creative purpose.

    Reflective umbrellas will create harsher light than white or translucent ones. So for soft light, use white/translucent. If you are looking for harsher shadows, use silver, gold/silver or gold reflective.

    The further away your umbrella from the subject, the harsher the shadows will be. I like to use shadow sculpting on my subjects so the secondary is always at least one stop below the primary.

    To fill in shadowed areas you may want to eliminate with minimal expense I recommend owning and learning how to use 42″ 5-n-1 reflectors. They work well in minimalist lighting to put light where you may want it. The nice thing is they do so inexpensively. I just taught a minimalist lighting class and this photo.

    . was shot using a single flash fired via radio through a translucent reflector and light bounced around using two other reflectors.

    I carry at least two reflectors and reflector mounts for my stands any time I on a shoot site. They are cheap, light and VERY effective when used correctly.

    Hopefully this helps a bit. If you have any specific questions you want to ask, feel free to do so. I don’t use continuous lighting, but what I know about flash and strobes will transfer over without a problem.

    A photographer uses umbrella photography lights while taking portraits. Follow the guide below to successfully set up your umbrella lights and use them while taking pictures.

    Step 1 – Place Your Lighting

    Knowing how to place your lighting for a portrait shoot is important. The best placement of your lighting depends on the location and the studio space. If you place the lighting too close to the subject, you are likely to get too many shadow effects. You may need to experiment with your space. Once you have found the right spot, use tape to mark off the locations on your floor so you can easily place them in the future.

    Step 2 – Place the Key Light

    Place your key light by your subject. It should be bent at a 45-degree angle. Place the key light approximately 4 to 5 feet away from the subject.

    Step 3 – Place the Fill Light

    The fill light should be the closest light to your subject. Place the light at eye level with your subject to help to reflect the light in his eyes. This is what will make your subject’s eyes twinkle and sparkle in front of the camera.

    Step 4 – Setup the Hair Light

    Place this umbrella light above your subject. The light should be behind the subject’s body. If your subject has a head full of really dark hair, then place the light closer to the head. As the hair lightens, pull the light further away from the subject.

    Step 5 – Meter the Light

    Before you take any portraits, meter the light. The meter will help you to setup your lighting ratio for your portrait. A common lighting ratio is 3:1. You can choose whatever ratio you feel is best or fits best with the photograph you are looking to take for your subject.

    Step 6 – Test the Meter

    Now that you have all of your umbrella lights setup, you will need to test that the lighting ratio is working appropriately. This means that you will test the meter. To do this, first turn off all the lights. Then turn on the key light. Fire the strobe directly in front of the light meter (of your key light). This will come up with a reading. Write the reading down on a piece of paper. Turn your key light on. Then, one by one, turn on the other lights and take the measurement as noted above. Check to make sure your lighting ratio is appropriately setup. You are now ready to go!

    Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: ” scrolling=”No” >

    Things You’ll Need

    Rope or nylon straps

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Outdoor umbrellas can be extremely valuable when the harsh light of the summer sun becomes too much for an outdoor gathering, picnic, or lunch. Unfortunately, wind can wreak havoc on an outdoor umbrella, causing it to tip over. With a little ingenuity, you can add weight to that outdoor umbrella base, allowing you to enjoy your afternoon event without worrying about umbrella malfunctions, even with mild to moderate winds.

    Cinder Block Method

    Step 1

    Arrange your umbrella base in the position you would like it to be. Flat, level ground works best.

    Step 2

    Paint a cinder block to match the color of your umbrella base. If you are artistic, paint different patterns on the cinder block and umbrella base for extra flair. You can buy cinder blocks at most home and garden stores.

    Step 3

    Slide the cinder block over the umbrella base so that the tube that holds the umbrella protrudes through one of the holes in the cinder block. You can use a cinder block with one or two holes in it.

    Step 4

    Adjust the cinder block so that it rests solidly on the umbrella base. Give the umbrella base a shake to ensure that the cinder block doesn’t shift too much.

    Step 5

    Insert the umbrella into the base and secure it.

    Sandbag Method

    Step 1

    Place your umbrella base on a flat, level surface and situate it where you would like it to be.

    Step 2

    Fill two sandbags, each about one half the size of your umbrella base, with sand. Sandbags can be purchased at most hardware or home and garden stores. Choose sandbags that match the color of your umbrella base as closely as possible. You can paint the sandbags if necessary.

    Step 3

    Arrange the sandbags on top of the umbrella base, one to each side of the tube that the umbrella slides into.

    Step 4

    Use a thin rope or nylon strap to secure the sandbags to the base, and to each other. Choose rope or nylon straps that match the color of your umbrella base and of the sandbags.

    Step 5

    Insert the umbrella into the base and secure it.

    Professional add on weights and sandbags specifically created for weighting umbrella bases can be purchased at many home and garden stores.

    30 pounds, about 14 kilograms, is sufficient weight for mild to moderate winds. For stronger winds, you will require more weight, or a permanent, in the ground umbrella stand.

    Warning

    Remove your umbrella from the base when not in use or during especially windy conditions. High winds can knock the umbrella over, or cause other damage.

    Ancient umbrellas or parasols were first designed to provide shade from the sun

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Geert Weggen/Aurora Photos/Getty Images

    The basic umbrella was invented more than 4,000 years ago. There is evidence of umbrellas in the ancient art and artifacts of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and China.

    These ancient umbrellas or parasols were first designed to provide shade from the sun. The Chinese were the first to waterproof their umbrellas for use as rain protection. They waxed and lacquered their paper parasols in order to use them for rain.

    Origins of the Term Umbrella

    The word “umbrella” comes from the Latin root word “umbra,” meaning shade or shadow. Starting in the 16th century the umbrella became popular in the western world, especially in the rainy climates of northern Europe. At first, it was considered only an accessory suitable for women. Then the Persian traveler and writer Jonas Hanway (1712-86) carried and used an umbrella publicly in England for 30 years. He popularized umbrella use among men. English gentleman often referred to their umbrellas as a “Hanway.”

    James Smith and Sons

    The first all umbrella shop was called “James Smith and Sons.” The shop opened in 1830 and is still located at 53 New Oxford Street in London, England.

    The early European umbrellas were made of wood or whalebone and covered with alpaca or oiled canvas. The artisans made the curved handles for the umbrellas out of hardwoods like ebony and were well paid for their efforts.

    English Steels Company

    In 1852, Samuel Fox invented the steel ribbed umbrella design. Fox also founded the “English Steels Company” and claimed to have invented the steel ribbed umbrella as a way of using up stocks of farthingale stays, the steel stays used in women’s corsets.

    After that, compact collapsible umbrellas were the next major technical innovation in umbrella manufacture, which arrived over a century later.

    Modern Times

    In 1928, Hans Haupt invented the pocket umbrella. In Vienna, she was a student studying sculpture when she developed a prototype for an improved compact foldable umbrella for which she received a patent in September 1929. The umbrella was called “Flirt” and was made by an Austrian company. In Germany, the small foldable umbrellas were made by the company “Knirps,” which became a synonym in the German language for small foldable umbrellas in general.

    In 1969, Bradford E Phillips, the owner of Totes Incorporated of Loveland, Ohio obtained a patent for his “working folding umbrella.”

    Another fun fact: Umbrellas have also been crafted into hats as early as 1880 and at least as recently as 1987.

    Golf umbrellas, one of the largest sizes in common use, are typically around 62 inches across but can range anywhere from 60 to 70 inches.

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    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Photographer Holly Romaya was walking through a local mall in the Detroit metro area recently when she noticed something peculiar about the mall Santa photo area set up for kids portraits. It seems the people responsible for setting up the lighting equipment don’t actually know how it’s supposed to work.

    “As I was walking through my local mall, I saw the Christmas set up and took a peek at their setup,” Romaya tells PetaPixel, “and I said to myself, ‘Oh dear… That’s not right and it will give horrible light.’”

    Here’s how the AlienBees flash unit and umbrella were arranged:

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Reflective umbrellas are used with the flash firing into them. The purpose is to expand the light source and produce a broader, softer light than you get with the flash pointed straight at the subject. Here’s a crash course:

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Romaya, the photographer behind Madelyn Grace Photography, talked to the mall employees who set up the displays, but they claimed it hadn’t finished getting set up yet.

    “I am going to go back when they start photos to see if they fixed it, and if not I will be following up with management to find out why they are not setting it up properly,” Romaya says.

    She doesn’t have high hopes of it getting fixed, though: Romaya says the lighting was set up exactly the same way during the whole Christmas season last year without anyone noticing or fixing it…

    Update: It seems this mall’s photo team isn’t alone in this way of using a reflective umbrella. West Virginia-based photographer Perry Bennett noticed a local photobooth service doing the same thing, and they insisted their setup was correct.

    There is a local “trendy photobooth thingy” that has it set up the same way. When I told them/showed them their error, they claimed they were right. #whatever

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Image credits: Photographs by Holly Romaya and used with permission

    If you’ve ever had an umbrella break on you while you’re walking down the street in a downpour, then you know how frustrating they can be! Broken or worn out umbrellas, however, don’t have to be trashed right away. Like most things, there are plenty of ways to upcycle them into something cool, creative, or practical.

    Check out these 15 projects that transform umbrellas into other great things!

    1. Floral door hanger

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    If the inside frame of your umbrella is broken so that it no longer holds itself up and out, try this project by Random Thoughts From an Incoherent Mind

    ! Placing a pretty bouquet of fresh or silk flowers inside the umbrella and hanging it on the door looks beautiful and can be done keeping the umbrella closed.

    2. Umbrella skeleton photo mobile

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    If the material of the umbrella is too torn to salvage, try using just the frame! We absolutely adore the minimalist look this umbrella frame photo mobile by Ella Elaine gives any room.

    3. Hanging umbrella lamp

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    A string of little white lights and a vintage or lacy umbrella is the perfect recipe for a simple but delicate looking hanging light. The twinkly lights will shine through the material, giving off a soft glow. Meanwhile, a fancy umbrella like this one featured on Inspiration i Vitt will give the room’s aesthetic a vintage touch.

    4. Single bulb umbrella lamp

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Sometimes it’s nice to let things that have been upcycled look just that- upcycled! This umbrella pendant light is made by fixing the extended top of an old umbrella over a single bulb hanging light fixture. It’s simple, but it’s simply stylish too. Check the design out on Underworld of B.V.

    5. Umbrella frame plant stand

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    If all that’s left of your umbrella is the extending frame with no material or handle, then it’s still a useful tool for plenty of things! For example, it’ll make a great plant stand for your tomatoes or other climbing plants to flourish onto as they grow, just like this one on Pinterest.

    6. Umbrella handle reading lamp

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Perhaps your umbrella has a beautiful wooden handle and that’s the only part worth salvaging. There’s a project for that too! Check out this reading lamp by Chuck Routhier that uses the hook of the umbrella handle to hang on the wall wherever you need it.

    7. Double umbrella pendant light

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Using two umbrellas facing each other to make a dome shade is a great kitschy look for a bright kitchen. Check out how BHG fit these two umbrellas around a hanging light fixture.

    8. Umbrella cloche

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Permaculture features this easy DIY cloche that upcycles the material, top frame, and pole of an umbrella simply be removing the handle and sticking it in the dirt! It’s an easy, green way to protect your plants through hrasher weather.

    9. Umbrella handle wall hanger

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    If you have an umbrella handle but you don’t need another reading light, why not make yourself a hooked coat or clothing hanger instead? We love the idea of mounting it on a wooden backing like this one from Das Rot Paket.

    10. Decorative shade umbrellas

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Do you have a large patio that you love to host on or a small business that people might enjoy coffee outside of? Try giving guests shade with many differently coloured and styled umbrellas rather than regular standing or table umbrellas! It creates a whimsical look, just like this patio featured on Loffee.

    11. Umbrella skirt

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    If you’re looking for something a little more creative, we absolutely love this Crooked Brains idea for making an umbrella skirt! Use the swishing material, embrace the arching shape of the umbrella along the bottom, and leave the plastic frame ends around the edges to really give it some character.

    12. Hanging Halloween lamp

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    A stripped down umbrella frame hung by the handle and adorned with fake cobwebs, plastic spiders, and novelty lanterns makes awesome Halloween decor. Check out how it’s made on BHG.

    13. Garden decor

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    Brightly coloured umbrellas are perfect for making silly garden decor that gives your yard a cheerful aesthetic. We love these happy tin planters with umbrella “hats” by Beauty, Harmony, Life.

    14. Kids’ parachute game

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    How Does She shows you how to transform the material of an old umbrella into a miniature version of the parachute game yours kids have probably played in gym class. They’ll love being able to have fun with their own parachute at home too!

    15. Doggy rain coat

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    You already know that shiny umbrella material keeps the rain off, so why not use it for just that? Instead of keeping yourself dry, however, use your sewing skills to sew your four legged friend a jacket, just like this one on Dukes and Duchesses.

    Have you made another upcycled umbrella craft that you’re very proud of but that you don’t see here? Tell us about it in the comments section!

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    When it comes to sun protection, you probably know that wearing sunscreen is a must. But if you’ve ever traveled during the summer, you’ve likely seen everyone from tourists to little old ladies carrying umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. It may look both strange and sophisticated, but does carrying an umbrella really protect your skin from the sun?

    It depends, says Jessica Wu, M.D., a Los Angeles-based dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face. Studies have shown that shading devices like umbrellas can block a portion of the sun’s direct ultraviolet (UV) rays, as well as rays that are reflected from the sand and water. But the amount of protection provided depends on the umbrella’s material and size (those clear, plastic umbrellas may be fashionable, but they’ll do nothing to protect your skin). “Heavy, dark, opaque fabric blocks more UV rays than thin, sheer fabric, and the larger the umbrella, the more rays it can block,” says Wu.

    Indeed, a study by dermatologists at Emory University in Atlanta found that standard rain umbrellas can block at least 77 percent of UV light [Source: JAMA Dermatology]. Black ones did the job especially well, blocking about 90 percent of UV rays. But overall, sun umbrellas (those marketed specifically to block UV rays) offered the most protection, blocking more than 99 percent of UV rays.

    Still, you shouldn’t rely on an umbrella to provide all of the protection you need. “Since the shade from a parasol doesn’t cover all of your body, it’s still important to take other sun-protective measures like wearing a hat and sunscreen,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the dermatology department at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. His advice: Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, which blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, the short waves that are responsible for most sunburns. And make sure the bottle is labeled as broad spectrum, so you know that it protects you against both UVB and UVA rays.

    Umbrellas are great lighting tools for beginners and pros alike. They’re not too hard to figure out, and they give you great light coverage that you didn’t have before. A more advanced technique with umbrellas is using them to imitate natural light. In this tutorial, Jay P Morgan shows you how to use umbrellas to create a natural daylight look:

    One factor that Morgan doesn’t address is the color temperature of your light. There is little that will make your strobes look more like artificial lights than if they don’t match the color of the rest of the natural light in the image. Here are some ways to control your lights’ color:

    • Color or Finish of Material – Umbrellas, and other lighting tools like reflectors, come in many different finishes: gold, silver, white, etc. These finishes will affect the color of the light reflected off of them. For example, gold provides a much warmer light.
    • Colored Gels – This is the easiest and quickest way to modify your light color. Gels come in varying colors and levels of influence. The most common gels are orange and blue as they will make your lights warmer or cooler. The different levels of influence refer to how much the color will change by. For instance, there are very translucent blue gels and almost opaque blue gels, the latter of which will make your lights much cooler than the former.
    • Light Bulbs – If you’re using a flash, you can’t change out the bulb. You’re stuck with one color temperature, and you’ll have to resort to gels or other materials to change it. However, if you’re shooting with continuous lights, you can often change out the bulbs. Light bulbs range from florescent to incandescent and their color temperatures will be different. Most light bulb packaging will tell you what the color temp. is. If you want yours to match a sunny day, go with daylight bulbs that are rated at about 5200K.

    How to Use Light Umbrellas

    For this shot, Morgan made large movements with the camera at slow shutter speeds and used the strobe to freeze most of the action

    Don’t forget to take into account the angle of your light. Daylight never comes from below. Keep your light up high, or move it down a little if you’re trying to imitate window lighting.