I've shared a lot of different posts about Profoto and their products. One of the things I love about all their posts, videos and even the content directly on their website is the amount of educational material always shared. They're a company not only making great products, but focused on helping artists create better images.
Profoto has an incredibly large accessory line to enhance what's become known by most as the finest lighting gear in the industry, especially with the "game-changers" the new B1 and B2 Off-Camera Flash Systems. In this post I've pulled from their archives, they've presented a terrific demonstration of the differences in the white, silver and translucent deep umbrellas. It's a great way for you to understand the differences, even when it's ever so slight.
A big thanks Fredrik Franzén for pulling the story together and to Klara G for her work as a professional photographer demonstrating each difference.
How much difference does it really make if you shoot with a silver Umbrella Deep, a white Umbrella Deep or a translucent Umbrella Deep? To find the answer, we asked photographer Klara G to do a little test for us. Here are the results.
The umbrella is to photographers what the Technics SL-1200 is to DJs. In other words, the umbrella is, by far, the most common and most widely used Light Shaping Tool out there. It is so for a good reason. The umbrella is affordable, very easy to use, and extremely easy to fold and bring with you to an on-location shoot.
But that does not mean you cannot be creative and do a lot of different things with them. For instance, how you position and direct your umbrella has a huge effect on the light character. What size and shape of umbrella you use is also a determining factor.
Then there is the fact that most brands of umbrellas are available in different fabrics. All four sizes (small, medium, large and XL) of Profoto Umbrellas are available in white, silver and translucent versions. In addition, the white and silver versions can be equipped with diffusers, while there is a Backpanel for the translucent one. Adding any of these accessories will also change the light character.
But truthfully now, how much difference is there really between a white, silver and translucent umbrella. And how much difference do the accessory really make?
Let’s say you use only one light and keep it in exactly the same position and angle, but you switch between a white, silver and translucent Umbrella Deep – plus you try it with and without the optional accessories – how much of difference will you be able to see? To find the answer, we asked photographer Klara G to try it out.
“Umbrellas are, by far, my favorite Light Shaping Tools,” says Klara. “I love the beautiful, round catch light they create in the eyes. I also love the light you get when you put the subject close to a wall or a backdrop. The falloff looks great! You are also free to create some nice gradients and lighting effects by simply changing the direction of the umbrella, or by using a flag or a white reflector screen.”
For this test, we provided Klara G with one Umbrella Deep White S, one Umbrella Deep Silver S, one Umbrella Deep Translucent S, one diffuser and one Backpanel.
Klara G shot no less than 12 images with almost exactly same setup. The flash head stayed in exactly the same position. The umbrella shaft’s position in the umbrella holder was the same. The aperture was the same. There were no tweaks in postproduction. The only thing Klara G changed was the actual umbrella and its accessory.
“The setup was nice and simple,” says Klara G. “I had a single D1 Monolight on a boom, positioned 45° to the right and slightly higher than the subject’s face. The D1 and the umbrella were angled to the left of the subject’s face, so that only the falloff hit the subject’s face. It’s my opinion that if you aim the umbrella straight at the subject, the light gets too harsh. It gets a whole lot more interesting if you do it like this. You get a bit more drama that way. A bit more intimacy.”
Finally, Klara G put up two black screens – one to the left and one to the right of her subject. These were used to absorb spill light and to prevent the light from bouncing around in the room. With everything in place, Klara G started shooting.
So what do you say? How much difference is there between a white, silver and translucent umbrella? Which one is you favorite? Do you have any question about shooting with an umbrella?
See more Klara G’s wonderful world of imagery at her website.
After these shots, Klara G replaced the black foam boards she used for flagging off light with white foam boards and repeated the entire process. Unlike the black foam boards, which absorbed spill light and created shadows in the subject’s face, the white foam boards reflected the light and created a more even light with less contrast and brighter shadows. The effect can clearly be seen in the images Klara G shot.
The effect was in all cases a more even light and brighter shadows compared to what she got when she used the black cardboard wall.