What are Photography Umbrellas?
Photography umbrellas are a type of lighting modifier that when combined with an external lighting source produce soft lighting that spreads out over a large area. As implied by their name they resemble and unfold just like a rain umbrella, making them an easy lighting modifier to both assemble and use.
Why Use Umbrellas?
In contrast to softboxes, photography umbrellas provide less directional light and instead produce broader, yet still very soft light. They are very easy to use, transport and set up. When you combine these aspects with their cost-friendly prices, this makes them a favourite lighting tool for beginner photographers.
A Buyer’s Guide – What to look out for
Types of Photography Umbrella
When purchasing a photography umbrella the main decision you will have to make is between a ‘shoot-through’ umbrella or a ‘reflective’ umbrella. The type of umbrella you choose will be tied to what you would like to achieve with the lighting in your shot.
Shoot-through umbrellas are white in colour and are pointed towards their subject with the light diffusing through the white lining. The semi-translucent fabric material of the white umbrella softens the light spreading it out so the lighting isn’t so directional.
Reflective umbrellas tend to be black on the outside but have a reflective surface on the inside, usually with a metallic silver finish. To shoot with this type of lighting, the umbrella is pointed away from the subject and light is reflected off the parabolic sides of the umbrella back towards the subject. This bouncing effect focuses and magnifies the light towards the subject whilst still keeping the lighting soft.
At Lencarta we offer a third option - a reflective umbrella with a white interior. This provides the best of both worlds, creating softer more diffused light whilst still providing harder shadow transfer edges than that of a shoot-through umbrella.
Like with any type of diffuser in photography lighting, the larger it is the softer the light it provides. Something to bear in mind with the larger umbrellas is when shooting outside the wind may catch them more, and weights may be needed to keep them in place otherwise you may find yourself recreating the end of Mary Poppins!