Is an umbrella an umbrella?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Nick Zentena, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I'm going to guess the answer is no. Other then the different colours giving warmer/cooler results with colour film. The ones you bounce versus shoot through. Why the size differences? Are any of the cheaper umbrellas any good or are they just a headache waiting to happen?
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Suggestions for a book on lighting wouldn't hurt either.
     
  3. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    Bigger bounce umbrellas make for a larger, and therefore softer light source than a smaller one. I've never used a shoot through umbrella but the instructor of the portrait class I'm in right now advised against them.
     
  4. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    For books, try "Light - Science & Magic" (by Hunter and Fuqua?) - excellent treatment of essential lighting aspects.

    Personally, I don't like shoot-through umbrellas - I feel softboxes are a better solution. As FirePhoto noted, size (in relation to the subject, so distance plays a role) is one way to control the softness of the light. With umbrellas, specularity of the reflecting surface matters, too.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I use my white Bowens umbrellas as shoot through umbrellas when I am trying to work in close quarters, and the resulting diffused but very directional light suits the subject. It just depends on what you are trying to accomplish, and what you are used to using. I would suggest that you experiment - if you like the results, you'll be happy you did.
     
  6. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    A contrast resulting from umbrella and a point light source (such as halogen lamp, which I love so much) is easy to control. Silver umbrella gives the harshest light, but it's still soft enough - next comes the white bounce, and white shoot-through. I like to use white bouce umbrella as a fill light, or as a main light in high key - the shot-through umbrellas are good to light up the interiors, pictures and macro objects. It's easy to fine-tune the contrast of the light with umbrella by adjusting its position relative to the lamp - as with the spot. I don't own a softbox because I mostly use hot lights - umbrellas just don't overheat so much. Also, round reflections in the eyes and other shiny objects are quite more pleasing compared to squares :smile: But the options are endless - if I want to recreate a sobtbox look, I use a shoot-through litedisk, a small 50cm one. And it has no sections to show on my pictures, BTW - I can place it closer if I need.

    Cheaper umbrellas will work with flashes, on my opinion - where the light comes in bursts. With hot lights the cheapos would either yellow or melt down :smile: I have Kaiser and Hensel umbrellas, and they work without a flaw - a white combined, and silver one. When you buy one, look for more sections in it (say, 10 is fine) and for overall crafting such as the cloth put together with wires by a real thread. Also you should check the metallization of your umbrella (if it's silver or gold) - you should not be able to see anything through the metallic cloth!

    Cheers,
    Zhenya
     
  7. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Thanks everyone. I'll have to mail order everything so won't have a chance to look at umbrellas before hand.

    I'm ordering the book-)
     
  8. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Hi Nick, I use bounce and shoot-through umbrellas all the time, often in combination. The results are different, depends on what you're after of course. As mentioned, the bigger the source the softer the light. The shoot-throughs are softer than the bounce lights, but provide less light overall.

    Use the shoot-throughs on women you want to flatter and the bounces on men you want to impress. Gross generalizations of course, but then you're asking your question of total strangers on the internet.