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Umbrella position questions
Old 12-18-2006, 07:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm an amateur in working with flashes and I would like to have some information over position of Umbrella. Specialy I'm interested in HIGHT of umbrella and how does hight effect on shadows.
I have two flashes. I mount one flash off camera with umbrella as diffueser light and it is main light and one flash on camera for fill. Also I have 2 reflectors for fill.

What hight is appropriate for different needs and does it changes when using in studio or outdors for fill with the Sun light and as outdor main light on a cloudy day.
Thanks for Help.
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Re: Umbrella position questions
Old 12-18-2006, 09:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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As with any other light source, the position of an umbrella in relation to the subject will always have an effect on the shadows produced.
Generally speaking, you want the light source level with or somewhat above the eyes of your subject.
The higher your light source in relation to the subject the longer the shadows under the nose and chin will be.
Learn to study photographs and determine where the lights were positioned by the shadows. You can also judge this by looking at the catch-lights in the eyes.

I'll post some photos here and describe how they were lit, umbrella's were used in all of these photos.
Take notice of the shadows and catch lights. Then do some experimenting on your own and determine where to place your light source to achieve the results you want.

This was shot with two umbrellas, one for the main and one for rim-light.
As you can see by the shadows and catchlights, the main was positioned at camera right and a little above the models head. Notice the shadow under the chin and nose.


On this image, main light was umbrella positioned above model and reflector used for fill. The catch lights show the position of both.


Main light provided by a single umbrella. Rim light provided by another single umbrella;


This image was lit with a single umbrella. It lit both the model and the background.
If you look hard enough you'll notice a tiny pin-point catch light in the eye (right next to the larger catch light) that was produced by using an on camera flash to trip the main light. The oncamera flash was aimed at the umbrella and not at the model and as such didn't influence the light on the subject hardly at all.


It should be pretty easy to tell where the main light was in this photo...you can see the umbrella in her glasses. I had another light behind her and to camera left...this light was positioned even higher then the main light.


In the right hands, umbrellas can be great sources of light. It does take a bit of practice and knowledge to learn how to control the light they produce however.
I hope this helps.
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Re: Umbrella position questions
Old 12-18-2006, 10:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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eoym,
when you use umbrellas, do u usually use shoot-thru, white, silver or gold?
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Re: Umbrella position questions
Old 12-18-2006, 11:14 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Good question brother7.

I have a variety of umbrellas and while a few of them allow for shoot-thru use, I don't do that very often. I do ocassionally, but not very often.
An umbrella is meant to spread light over a broad area, and when shooting thru an umbrella I've found it more difficult to control the light. Light will be bouncing all over the place and hard to control.
But if you can control it with flags and such, it can be a great source of light that is more specular then bouncing the light into an umbrella.

As for the color umbrellas I use, I have a variety of those to. I have white, solid gold, solid silver and one that I've been using a lot lately is is divided like slices of pie with alternating white and gold "slices".
Just like reflectors, different situations call for different colored umbrellas and it depends on the effect you are trying to achieve. Sometimes you'll want gold to warm tones up and sometimes gold would be too warm so then opt for silver or white.
In the photo above (my previous post) with the girl in the black swimsuit, I used the gold/white umbrella and white balanced to achieve a slight warm skin tone. And I used a silver reflector for the side-lighting for more specular effect.

Here's a couple of more photos shot with that gold/white umbrella.
These were shot at Los Vegas SuperShoots V.
This was shot at night with very slow shutter speeds to allow the light in the pool to record. (1/15th sec.) I knew that with no ambient light that the shadows were going to be deep so I positioned the umbrella pretty much level with her face so the there would be no strong shadows from her nose and chin. Model is Jessica, lit with one umbrella;


This was shot at dusk so there was more ambient light. The custom white balance setting was the same as in the photo of Jessica (above) but here there was more ambient light so the results were slightly less warm tones, (shutter speed 1/60th sec.) but this was shot with that same umbrella.
Model Ginger Sharp;
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Re: Umbrella position questions
Old 12-18-2006, 02:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info Dean. I just did my first-ever glamour session over the weekend, with new umbrellas, and was pleased with the results. Your input is appreciated and your work inspiring to us beginners.
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Re: Umbrella position questions
Old 12-18-2006, 02:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill_Wood View Post
Thanks for the info Dean. I just did my first-ever glamour session over the weekend, with new umbrellas, and was pleased with the results. Your input is appreciated and your work inspiring to us beginners.
You're welcome Bill, and thank you.
Don't be bashful about sharing a few of the photos from that session.
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