Buying Guide for Photographic Lighting Umbrellas
Photographic lighting umbrellas are umbrellas that have a reflector on it, often times with colored gel that has lighting strips like a traditional flash. They are most useful for situations where you can't or don't want to use a flash. They can be used for portraits, or to work in shade and freeze motion. Photographic Lighting Umbrellas are an important tool for photography. They are used in situations where light is less than ideal. When there is so much light that you cannot use a flash to illuminate your subject, Photographic Lighting Umbrellas can be used to provide additional illumination.
Benefits of Photographic Lighting Umbrellas
Helps to Take Better Picture
Photographic Lighting Umbrellas are designed to help people take better pictures during a wide variety of lighting situations. By evenly lighting the subject, photographers can create more realistic, consistent and vivid photos. This improves their ability to capture the true beauty of their subjects, and it also improves their image quality.
Gives Good Pictures
Photographic Lighting Umbrellas have become a popular tool for photographers to increase the exposure on the subjects they are photographing. The idea is that by blocking the light coming from the sun, the exposure on the subject will be increased. They are also known as "umbrellas" because they usually have a large circular front that is made out of a translucent material, such as black or white plastic, and a smaller, backside.
Converts Studio Flash into Wide Angle
Every good portrait starts with a great light. This is where a photographic lighting umbrella comes into play. These transceivers can convert your studio flash into a wide-angle, soft light that allows you to create beautiful portraits. What’s more, the light can be used during a specific part of the photo shoot to turn on a touchscreen or illuminate a white board.
Easy to Use
Photographic Lighting Umbrellas, or PLU's for short, are a relatively new product that combine the functionality of lighting systems with the portability and ease of use of a softbox or beauty dish.
Factors to Consider Before Buying of Photographic Lighting Umbrellas
When purchasing an umbrella, the first thing a photographer should determine is whether they want a shoot-through umbrella, a reflective umbrella, or both. Shining a light source through a shoot-through umbrella results in a broader and softer light. This light placed very close to a subject, since the shaft of the umbrella is pointed in the opposite direction. As demonstrated below, the light source is pointed directly at the subject and the umbrella placed between them.
Consider the Surface
A white shoot-through umbrella creates a broad and extremely soft light source. These umbrellas are ideal for photographers lighting large areas or groups of people. These umbrellas aren’t as efficient with light output and many photographer’s find themselves increasing their light’s power settings when using them.
A silver reflective umbrella maximizes light output and creates a crisp, edgy look. Silver umbrellas are ideal for photographers who want to harness as much of their light’s power as possible. These umbrellas are perfect for creating dramatic portraits with cooler tones.
Westcott offers umbrellas in sizes ranging from 32” to 7’. When choosing size, the general rule of thumb is that the larger the light source in relation to your subject, the softer the light will appear. We often hear shooters say that they can’t use a large umbrella because their speedlite or flash isn’t powerful enough. Considering the recent advancements in technology (especially if your flash is under 4 years old),
speedlites available today pack a serious punch and should work great with all umbrellas.
Consider the Lighting Technique
You need to make sure that the light produced by your preferred light source is filling up your umbrella without spilling over the edges. The best way to determine the position of your light is to take an underexposed test shot of the face of the umbrella. If you notice a hot spot or unevenly bright area of the umbrella, adjust your light source further back on the umbrella shaft until the light coverage is even.
Most studio-style lights and strobes have a simple umbrella receptacle that the umbrella shaft can slide into. They are commonly located at the bottom of the light, built into the light’s tilter bracket. Sometimes they are actually located within the light head.
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