Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting better light from your umbrella...

I came across a great demonstration over at The Photophile site on how to get a better, softer light when using a small strobe with a shoot through umbrella.

Lanthus was using a single Nikon SB-600 with an umbrella to light the Santa shots he was taking at the mall this past Christmas.

In the first shot he was shooting "bare bulb" and you can see a distinctive hotspot in the middle of the umbrella.


He then flipped down the built in diffuser of the SB-600 which automatically sets the flash to a 14mm wide distribution of the light (zooms out).


As you can see in this next shot there is a much more even distribution of light across the entire surface of the umbrella.

Obviously if you are shooting with a flash that does not have a built in diffuser you can (most likely) manually set your flash to zoom out to a 14mm wide light pattern (or as wide as you flash will allow). If you are not familiar with using the "zoom" feature of your flash check your manual for operating details.

A BIG thanks to Lanthus Clark for letting me share this information (and his photos) with you and be sure to check out his site, The Photophile, you'll find some good stuff there (including the ever popular topic of DIY).

5 comments:

Miguel Palaviccini said...

Awesome idea. I wonder if any of the light spreads out farther than the umbrella. Which brings up the question: "Is there an optimal distance from the umbrella that the light should be set at to maximize it's efficiency". If set too close, then you get that hot spot again. If set too far, then you lose some light past the umbrella. Just wondering ...

Stevenson Photography said...

I've been playing with this over the last couple months. I was very happy to see the results when this occurred to me. If you want to see the spread of light just do as in these photos and shoot the umbrella. I think this is probably a better option than the Sto-fen omni bounce.

Joanna Kapica said...

Very useful :) Thank you for sharing!

Michael Van der Tol said...

Thanks. I've been shooting interiors and often get hot spots on reflecting surfaces. Next time I'm going to try this with my SB600's.

Steven Erat Photography said...

At a Joe McNally workshop a couple years ago I learned that in much portraiture he uses a stofen diffuser over his speedlights, which in turn are behind shoot through umbrellas, which in turn might then be behind a scrim. That's 3 levels of diffusion to create a very broad, soft light source.