First Observations on the 72" Umbrella

smoke665

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Time restraints have really put a crimp in anything photography related. Had a few mins today to try out the 72" Umbrella (Glo) and diffusion cover.
  • Out of the box the umbrella itself seemed fairly study. The shaft itself seemed a little on the weak side when mounted to the light. I would suspect it wouldn't take much to bend it if it were to catch a little wind. However it did the job, and once slid up seemed sturdy enough.
  • The elastic diffusion cover seems well made and slipped over the umbrella, snugging itself into place quickly and easily. Putting it up was another matter, as folding this 7' diameter cover with it's fitted elastic band around the outside, is sort of like folding a King Size fitted sheet. Nothing seems to work right and you finally give up in disgust, wad it up and stick it back into it's pouch.
As I said didn't really have the time to do much, but Sadie Mae is always willing. In the past the white fur on the top of her head is difficult to hold detail. You either end up to dark in the darker fur, or blowing that little patch of white. On the first shot this was set up about 6' back from her on camera axis. No diffusion cover. ISO 100, f/8, 1/160. There's a small spot at the bridge of the nose, between the eyes, that still lost some of the detail, but my first impression was the lack of specularity on the fur.
Fall 202020201114_3675.jpg


For a comparison I moved the light in to about 4' and added the diffusion cover. I bumped the power up to F/ 18 just for fun. Even at the higher aperture, to me there's an overall greater softness between this and the first.
Fall 202020201114_3678.jpg


Like any new piece of equipment it's going to take some practice to find out I can best utilize it.
 
I wonder if the softness at f/18 is a result of lens diffraction? You were probably near or at the lens sweet spot at F/8. I don't see any surprise in the softness of the modifier. Do you?
 
I wonder if the softness at f/18 is a result of lens diffraction? You were probably near or at the lens sweet spot at F/8. I don't see any surprise in the softness of the modifier. Do you?

It's possible some of the softness came from diffraction but my assumption was the addition of the diffusion cover had more to do with it. As to surprises no, it performed as I hoped it would. I need to spend a day with my static wig head exploring distance, height, diffusion/no diffusion, etc, to better understand when and where to use it.
 
Yes, my bust of Julius Caesar did his second version of humpty dumpty in 35 years and I just have him glued back together and painted middle gray. It was like losing an old friend. When on a wooden stool, his head is at the height of most people seated on my posing stool at lowest point so I can set up and dial in lights before clients arrive. He wears a knit sweater so I have arms to check kickers. You are doing what I was going to suggest something that will make seeing the shadows and shadow edge transitions easier. Julius is so helpful for that kind of evaluation. I go to big modifiers for really slow shadow edge transitions. I have both diffusion panels on. One thing to watch if you get it in say 3 feet is the catch light becomes pretty large. If I recall, your umbrella ribs are covered with fabric and with the diffusion panel in place you shouldn't get the anachroid legs in the catchlight that some umbrellas create.
 
Yes, my bust of Julius Caesar did his second version of humpty dumpty in 35 years and I just have him glued back together and painted middle gray. It was like losing an old friend. When on a wooden stool, his head is at the height of most people seated on my posing stool at lowest point so I can set up and dial in lights before clients arrive. He wears a knit sweater so I have arms to check kickers. You are doing what I was going to suggest something that will make seeing the shadows and shadow edge transitions easier. Julius is so helpful for that kind of evaluation. I go to big modifiers for really slow shadow edge transitions. I have both diffusion panels on. One thing to watch if you get it in say 3 feet is the catch light becomes pretty large. If I recall, your umbrella ribs are covered with fabric and with the diffusion panel in place you shouldn't get the anachroid legs in the catchlight that some umbrellas create.

I appropriated DWs wig head and an old wig. I was going to paint it great buy I kinda like the Styrofoam white surface as it keeps me on my toes for specular highlights but has a good texture.

First pass I didn't notice the ribs, but the light and stand create a funky off center black spot in the middle of the highlights.
 
Can get the same from a beauty dish. You can fix it in post with a couple of clicks. I got rid of my ring light because it did the same thing and I have seen folks stand in front of the 7 footer, put subject less than a foot from a white wall and get the ring light shadow surrounding the subject.
 
, put subject less than a foot from a white wall and get the ring light shadow surrounding the subject

What, wait, I want to try that!!!!
 
Have your umbrella right up against you and get within about 5 or 6 feet, subj against a white bg. Gives you that ring light characteristic rim shadow all around subject. It is a glamour look. Now you know that octa is a multi tasker. Alton Brown of good eats loves multitaskers.
 
First pass I didn't notice the ribs, but the light and stand create a funky off center black spot in the middle of the highlights.
I had this exact question for you, as I couldn’t tell from the catchlight in Sadie Mae’s eye. That is the reason I’m not a fan of umbrellas for tighter portraits, and prefer soft boxes to brollies. I’m sure most non-photographers wouldn’t notice the umbrella ribs or photographer’s silhouette in the catchlight, but I always see it!

Beautiful shots by the way, I love how the light wraps around from that giant modifier, and love the choice of shallow DoF for these photos.
 
For slow shadow edge transition, ie, beautiful soft light, bigger is better. And you can pull it back and get slower fall off. Somewhere I have a shot from subjects stool with 3, 5 and 7 behind one another, all appearing the same size. You should get approx the same softness from each at that distance.
 
@adamhiram I didn't notice the ribs, just the shape of the stroke and stand. However part of the plan is the addition of an eyelighter low, so the height and angle of the light might offset some of that. I can already see that the difference in the soft quality of the light is off the chart better than the softbox. Here's a l8nk I found interesting Cissa is 6!! ~ Snow Portraits ~ Westcott Parabolic Umbrella based on the fact that the eye highlights are so small I'm guessing this was a shoot thru (My next purchase).

@mrca Am I correct assuming the link above is a shoot thru?
 
I hate the 4 catchlight around the eye from a Peter Hurley florescent set up. For me, the eyelighter is only slightly better. It produces a chunky, distracting catchlight in an unnatural position. I will say, my training as a painter often has me painting it on the lower iris. It's been a tradition for 600 years. But in a photo, I find it objectionable. And I only like one catchlight not two or more. That's what I like, not a rule. It's why I like round modifiers, not square with hard edges and harsh corners. I know some folks like to replicate a window and even put a cross of black tape splitting it in to 4 sections. I guess that makes it look realistic. But I am not in the realism business, I am in the flattering business. If I want low fill, I prefer a light boomed next to the floor with a small octa or just a 7" reflector. The ratio is precisely controllable from my stool. Then remove the small catchlight in post. If I did want the low catchlight, a strip box boomed low is a multi tasker for kickers, hair light, narrow beam as well as low fill. Alton Brown and I hate mono taskers. The only time I use a shoot threw is on a stick with an assistant in run and gun. It sprays light everywhere. Was just on the phone with Paul C Buff, I knocked a button of my cybercommander but have a second cyber commander so took it off there. I also broke the battery cover on one during a beach wedding shoot. They are mailing me extra buttons and battery cover... free. I keep telling folks buying those go duck lights, not only is Buff gear fantastic, the customer service is second to none.
 
I will say, my training as a painter often has me painting it on the lower iris

I'm hoping that between the big umbrella high I can take the Eyelighter to get that painterly glow on the iris and not the specular highlight.

Love my PB gear and the folks there. Always a pleasant experience in d3aling with them
 
Those are artistic decision, no right or wrong. It's what makes our style.
 
If I may offer some feedback, here is what I notice.

The first shot shows a catchlight that has a hotter centre, this is due to your strobe placement and/or the reflector emitting the light into the umbrella. One option is to place your strobe further out on the rod so the flash illumination fills the umbrella surface. If this isn't possible a wide angle reflector or specifically an umbrella reflector generally has a wider angle to project the flash.

I'm assuming you mean the second shot is softer as in the overall light characteristic rather than actual acuity of the image? The difference you are seeing, as I am, is due to the proximity of the light to the subject, closer and larger means softer, further away means smaller and more contrast. However, as you noted when you get in close with the light source the inverse square law demonstrates the head fur is brighter than the fur around her shoulder. She is a real sweetie though.

Not sure if I understood you getting the diffuser on the umbrella but FWIW, here's how I do it. Take the umbrella collapsed and stand it on the pointy end. Holding the shaft start opening it up a bit, then slide the diffuser over the rod and let it drape over the edges of the umbrella. Then open the umbrella by placing your hand through the strobe opening, keeping the umbrella standing on the pointy end. As it opens the edges of the diffusion catch on the edges of the umbrella skirt and Bob' yer Uncle, it all falls into place and when fully opened the diffusion is in place. It may take a bit of practise but this is way easier than trying to fit it like a elastic bed sheet. YMMV.
 

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