What do i need ? A softbox or an umbrella ?

Started Aug 13, 2019 | Discussions thread
Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 15,527
Re: What do i need ? A softbox or an umbrella ?

Umbrellas are good sails. Softboxes are slightly less good as sails.

Umbrellas are cheap. Softboxes are more expensive.

Both can easily be blown over.

I would rather replace an umbrella than a softbox.

Always rotate the light diffuser so it is above one leg of your light stand for stability.

Use an assistant to hold the light stand outdoors if one is available.

If no assistant is available use sand bags indoors or out. You can buy them cheaply on Amazon/eBay. Fill double plastic zip lock bags with smooth stones for use at home. On location fill double plastic zip lock bags with what is available or use bottles of water in the sand bags.

For soft flattering portrait lighting your diffuse source of light should be as large as or larger than the subject. For the best combination of softness and light fall off across the subject you position the diffuse light source between 1 and 2 times the diameter or diagonal of the diffuse light source.

Here is gear that is very similar to what I use both inside and out. I use a collapsible light stand and a collapsible umbrella to make storage and transportation easy. I can put my hot-shoe flash, light stand, umbrella adapter, umbrella, shave kit, and a weeks worth of clothing in a small roller carry on suitcase.

Adorma Westcott 5-Section Aluminum Alloy Light Stand 7425

Adorama Westcott Metal Adjustable Shoe Mount Umbrella Bracket 5015

This adapter is larger and heavier but it can be used for either umbrellas or light modifiers with Bowens speedrings.

Adorama Glow S-Type Speedlite Bracket With Bowens Mount GL-BD-SBRKT

Adorama Westcott 43" White (Collapsible) Satin Umbrella 2011

Here is another DPReview members portable kit.

DPReview - The ultimate portable light system by daddyo.: Studio and Lighting Technique Forum

Note that both of us use 43" umbrellas. These are perfect for thigh up portraits to head shots but technically too small for full length. Fortunately the spread of light from an umbrella is such that you can light a full length subject with the reflection umbrella rim about 6' from the subject. Set the distance by simply using your arm's span index finger to index finger, which is equal to your height, or use the string method.

Using the String Method for Consistent Portraits | Photoflex Lighting School | Photoflex

By aiming the umbrella at the upper body you get a slightly brighter upper body and face vs the feet. This is a good thing since the brighter face draws the image viewer's attention there, not to the about 1/3 to 1/2 stop darker feet.

Set the umbrella height so that 1/3 of it is below the subject's eye level. With short loop lighting this will make sure you light the eye sockets and get a nice catchlight.

The most common lighting you will use is Short Lighting. It can be called Short Loop Lighting when the loop formed by the shadow from the nose falls along the line between the nose and cheek as in what is called simply short lighting in this reference.

Portrait Lighting - Project 3 - Portrait Lighting Set-Ups

Clay Blackmore is a master portrait/wedding photographer and demonstrates short loop lighting in these videos.

Clay Blackmore - YouTube - Techniques For Posing and Lighting

Clay Blackmore - YouTube - Pose Light Love 2015 08 11

Here are several very good tutorials on using a hot-shoe flash and umbrella outdoors. A flash meter is used to make getting the desired exposure and ambient to flash lighting ratios easy. If you don't have a flash meter the last link is to the ambient/flash ratio chart DPReview member fotowbert generously provided.

Joe Brady - Lighting 1 - Intro to Portrait Lighting Solutions with Joe Brady - YouTube

Joe Brady - Control the Light and Improve Your Photography: Part 2 — Better Environmental Portraiture

Joe Brady - Blending Flash & Ambient Light for Beautiful Outdoor Portraits

Joe Brady - Key Lime Pie - Flash at the Beach

DPReview - fotowbert - Percent flash calculation: Studio and Lighting Technique Forum: Digital Photography Review

I'll try to address your concerns about stray light.

An umbrella with a black backing puts out a hemisphere of light.

The black backing eliminates any stray light problem from the light passing through the umbrella fabric since only a negligible amount of light passes through the black backing.

A softbox with a flush front diffuser puts out a hemisphere of light, just like an umbrella.

A softbox with a recessed front diffuser puts out a little less than a hemisphere of light, but the spread of light is still large.

Only by adding a grid to a softbox do you reduce the spread of light to a much smaller area. You still get soft light but you will lose at least 1-stop of light with a grid.

A small 24"-32" softbox with a recessed front and grid are good for tight locations such as in restaurants where you want to minimize disturbing others. Here is an example but I'm sure you can find something familiar at Adorama, from Godox, or from Cheetah Stand - Creative Photography Equipment and Accessories .

eBay - Selens 65cm 26" Foldable Collapsible Beauty Dish Softbox & Honeycomb Grid Flash

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Living and loving it in Pattaya, Thailand. Canon 5DS R & 7D - See the gear list for the rest.

 Sailor Blue's gear list:Sailor Blue's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 5DS R Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX +9 more
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