The Umbrella Light (Brolly) Controversy

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by benjikan, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. benjikan

    benjikan TPF Noob!

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    The Umbrella Light (Brolly) Controversy

    I never would have expected that sharing my "GENERALIST" view of a lighting technique could cause such a stir. In fact it was based on a personal preference only and was NOT written for any other reason but to challenge you to think about the why and how one might consider the tool they wish to employ for a certain effect.

    Now in reading many of the responses to my essay, it seems that I could perhaps give greater clarification to what I stated.

    When ever there are adverts for lighting kits, they are generally shown sold with a soft box and an umbrella or two. So I can understand where the "Got it with the kit. May as well use it..." conditioning comes from. Personally, I find that rather unfortunate,as this inadvertently sets up a mind set about what studio lighting is and in my opinion falsely represents. I would prefer if flash heads, continuous lighting kits and mono blocks were just sold as is and the client could then be informed of the optional accessories available and what they can produce as a result of using them.

    An umbrella is in fact a very interesting utility if understood and applied creatively. Like all light modifiers, they create an ambiance that is unique to the manner it diffuses light. I recently saw an illustration that made me laugh. It was showing how to set up an umbrella and the distance from the light source. It showed the light source close to the center of the umbrella with a "No No" sign next to it and then another far from the center of the light source with another "No No" sign next to it. Finally hey showed what they considered the proper placement of the light source within the umbrella. That was a "Yes Yes" sign. All of that is utter nonsense, as there is NO proper placement. It all depends on how concentrated the light source you want will be.

    Lighting is a very complex art form and to master it takes several life times in my opinion. There are absolutely "ZERO" rules about how to light and what is correct or incorrect. If what you are attempting to do or NOT works out as desired or as a pleasant surprise, that is what it is all about. Hopefully you will have logged how you attained that pleasant mistake, so that you can replicate it again.

    What is more important than the umbrella, light-box, snoot, bowl, opalite, kino light etc., is the capturing of an image that is poignant, powerful and meaningful. The tool you captured it with is meaningless if what you captured leaves a lasting impression on those viewing it.

    Benjamin Kanarek Blog ยป The Umbrella Light (Brolly) Controversy
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've read all kinds of heated discussions about using this modifier over that, over something else and on and on.

    The brolley "contorversy" as far as I am concerned is both non-existant for me and a waste of time. In the end, use whatever light modifier does the job for you and you are happy with. Nothing else really matters now, does it?

    As long as you personally know what effects and final results come from using a specific modifier, knowledge reins supreme over opinion... always.
     
  3. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    I still don't understand why you hate the umbrella. That's what started the controversy. You still haven't told me why you "HATE" umbrellas. Now you're saying they are ok if you know how to use them and they have their place. That's completely opposite of your original comments.

    With each new post your original point is further lost.

    This post, on it's own and in the absence of the original, is more palatable. I mean, I didn't really learn anything I didn't already know... that being "learn how to use light modifiers" and it takes a lot of practice to learn really good lighting. That's obvious to anyone that's ever played with a strobe/flash/moonlight/etc.

    What I would be more interested in hearing from you is an essay on how you approached lighting on one of your pictures. You have many very well lit images I've seen. You do have a lot of talent. Why don't you show us a pic, a lighting diagram and explain your thought process in setting the shot up? I would find that far more useful.
     
  4. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    Ok.... First, I was not able to see the original post but oh well.
    The reality is that those who hold one position over another in such regards is a classic Ford vs. Chevy debate.

    My take: Use what works.

    The original point if I understand it, is that alot of people get these kits and say things like its here lets use it, blah blah blah.. Ok fine. But let me put this out as well. Much of this is simple education. If someone is educated in something, they will know that a specific item has a specific purpose. So if they know what an umbrella is and its use, great. if not, and they use it without knowledge, it'll show. Oh well.
    No need for controversy at all here.

    but thanks for the advice and the input, because I do learn new things from other's experiences.. Even when something is or not used.
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A brolley is an umbrella with a back cover. It differs from an open one by offering spill protection backwards. It can be good or bad, depends on what you want. Sometimes I want it, sometimes I do not. Most of the time it makes zero difference in my pics because I shoot outside.

    A softbox is very close to a brolley, except the brolley, becuase it is round, offers softer edges and a round vs rectangular area of coverage. Sometimes a softbox has additional diffusion layers that can make the light softer at the expense of the amount of light.

    I mean... this stuff is not freaking rocket science, I cannot understand why someone could even get all excited about a discussion, much less get heated up about it.

    I did not see that post, so I don't know what happened, but someone must have gotten their panties up in a bunch over likely nothing.
     
  6. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Outstanding post and truer words were never spoken.

    Personally I do not use umbrellas or soff boxes. I don hate them, but for me light begins to be sprayed all over the place and it is not my style. I shoot with diffusion, screens, honeycombs and a glass brick.

    Love & Bass
     
  7. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Mmmm....grids...

    *ahem* Umbrellas can be made into impromptu softbox-like devices with enough gaffer's tape. :D
     
  8. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It's interesting how often people have to bring in their very finite opinions into lighting. I was told by someone that what I was doing was quote "bad" That is using a piece of inkjet paper for a bounce card, and that I was "wasting" light because the top was open and it not all of it was hitting the bounce card. The guy in question had a very expensive but cheap and crap looking bounce thing with a forward tilted top.

    Anyway at the end of the day we shared some photos and I was asked how come my shadow appears slightly softer. I told him to go read up on some lighting tools and that none of my light was wasted, and there's a very good reason I used my $1 setup and it had nothing to do with being poorer than he was.
     
  9. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Indeed. I assume by the "top being open" most of the light was hitting the ceiling, with a bit of fill toward the subject? (Mmmm...the Vertex is so nice for indoor bounce like this. Twist, twist, bam, three lightsources from a single on-camera Speedlite. Mmmm...)
     

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