Umbrella Lighting- My thoughts - Page 4
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Old 07-13-2012   #31
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Default Re: Umbrella Lighting- My thoughts

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Originally Posted by Arved View Post

I'm a bit puzzled by the white umbrellas. Without the black cover, they're used as shoot throughs, but with a black cover on them, they can be used reflectively. OK, but if they're built to be translucent enough for shoot-through use, the black cover doesn't reflect, it absorbs, so wouldn't you just be wasting all that light?

I think I want just a plain white umbrella that's not translucent. Or, I want a silver umbrella that's really silver (like the silver reflective fabric in my Morris Softbox).
A mirror is clear glass back by black. A pretty good reflector.

A white satin umbrella with a black back ground is what you need. It will blur the harsh edge and diffuse the pattern of your small reflector-ed speedlight. About a 32-42 inch umbrella is fine. I use the 42.

A silver umbrella does more than just more efficiently reflect the light increasing power, it also changes the characteristic of the light. White is more flattering to most subjects. If you want a little more snap, back it up a touch.

Contrary to previous comments, you cannot evenly illuminate a full length person with a 30 inch brolly and have soft light. Sure you can combine a few, but then it isn't a (or one) 30 inch brolly, now is it? Softness is determined by the relative size of the light to the subject. Bigger is softer. Relative size incorporates distance. The closer the softer. That is a white a big source, the sun, appears to be a hard light, since it is so far away.

Finally the BEST fill light is a large soft one, so it casts no apparent shadows of its one and doesn't throw a specular reflection in the shadow area. So again, the 30 inch brolly, especially silver is the wrong choice, in most instances. It is better than nothing, but not the best.
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Old 07-13-2012   #32
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Default Re: Umbrella Lighting- My thoughts

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Originally Posted by Ed Shapiro View Post
Mile!

Long story short- I did finally "get it" with film- now I have to adapt the system for digital. It has to do with painting the interior of the umbrella with different bands or rings of colour- like a target. Each segment of the umbrella has a slightly different angle of incidence to the subject and if set up properly will render the face in a near neutral skin tone and the other colours will turn up at different places in the image. To do this you can't use auto white balance and depending upon exactly where you tune your white balance for, the effect can be neutralized or exaggerated- both not good.

I think I have the problem solved- just a bit more experimentation to go. When I come up with something more exacting, I will write it up here.

Thanks for your interest- I will keep in touch.

Ed
Hey Ed,

I am guessing, if you just set your camera to your standard Flash custom white balance or the camera's "flash" white balance, you would get the results you want. Or at least that is the direction I would go.

To clarify, with a standard umbrella, do a custom white balance and set your camera to that. Change umbrellas to the painted one and shoot.

Use a standard so your non standard light effects would show. Kinda like shooting a sunset at daylight rather than tungsten settings so you don't dilute the color.
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Old 07-13-2012   #33
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Default Re: Umbrella Lighting- My thoughts

KG-

Setting the white balance for flash and letting the other colors go where the will worked well with film. For some reason, it is not as clear cut in digital and even altering things in post-production does not work as well. I am getting close now and this may entail creating a custom white balance for images made with my crazy umbrella.

As far as the black backing on white umbrellas are concerned, my main reason for using them is to keep stray light from striking my lens when I am working behind the umbrellas- thereby preventing flare. I donít think I am wasting light if the back of the umbrellas remain uncovered- approximately the same amount of light is reflected upon the subject in both cases. What will happen, in some cases, the light coming from the back of the umbrellas will bounce more off the ceilings and walls and the resulting unseen secondary light will affect the lighting ratio and cause an image with flatter contrast. I have no mathematical formula to verify this but that is what occurs in my camera room. I can use this to my advantage so if I want a more delicate look with more transparent shadows, I can shoot without the black backing and create this other look.

Solver umbrellas come in various surfaces from almost mirror-like Mylar to matte silver. The do not soften the light as much as white fabric umbrellas do and their effect is more like large parabolic reflectors. Actual glass mirrors and a totally different story. The replicate the original pattern of the primary light source and can be very directional and harsh depending on the size and mirror/subject distance and the primary light source/mirror distances. In close quarters, a large wall or closet door mounted mirror can allow you to bring in light from a direction where there is little space to do so by aiming the light at the mirror image of the subject. This, in effect, lengthens the subject/light distance which creates a bit more harshness or contrast.

Shooting through an umbrella is somewhere between a soft box and a diffusion panel. Lots of stray light will happen so consider it like an open soft box.

Ed
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Old 07-13-2012   #34
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Default Re: Umbrella Lighting- My thoughts

Yep Ed, I agree with all that. I only mentioned mirrors to indicate that you don't absorb light with the black backing. Yes it reduces back scatter and flare, which is why I prefer them. Also, If I want to open up shadows, I will use another black backed umbrella for fill as it works in any room I happen to be shooting in.

I shoot a lot on location, so I need something that isn't condition specific for repeatable results. Of course ANY room will have some contribution unless I drape it in black, but I cover most of my bases with this technique.

I used that mirror trick to gain distance many a time. Dean Collins turned me on to that.
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Old 07-13-2012   #35
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Default Re: Umbrella Lighting- My thoughts

Great! Thanks for the feedback- I appreciate it! I will keep you apprised on my crazy umbrella. You may want to try it and make one of your own if my results are interesting to you.

Best regards, Ed.
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Old 07-13-2012   #36
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I will keep an eye out. I seem to go a long time between visits here, so drop me a line if you come up with something.
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Old 08-19-2012   #37
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Default Re: Umbrella Lighting- My thoughts

Ed used your tip on placing the umbrella parallel to the subject today pics came out great I really like using it. (it was my first time using my umbrella)
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Old 08-26-2012   #38
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Default Re: Umbrella Lighting- My thoughts

Just ran into this "old" thread and found a wealth of useful information.

Thanks
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Old 08-26-2012   #39
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Thanks!
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Old 08-27-2012   #40
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Default Re: Umbrella Lighting- My thoughts

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Originally Posted by kgphoto View Post
A mirror is clear glass back by black. A pretty good reflector.
Didn't you leave out the part where the silver is deposited on the back of the glass first?


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