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How to Control an Umbrella

Lesson 16 from: Light Shaping Tools for Professional Photographers

Tony Corbell

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Lesson Info

16. How to Control an Umbrella

Next Lesson: Uses of Umbrellas

Lesson Info

How to Control an Umbrella

To start this segment, I wanna do two things. John, let's put one of those black umbrellas that you've got there. Let's put one of those on our main light right here, and let me just shoot Jason. We're starting with Jason. Great, come on over. You gettin' tired of us yet? No. (laughter) You're havin' the time of your life yet? We'll get Jason over here. I think I'll move this out of the way for now. And mostly, I'm not tryin' to create masterpieces here today you guys. I'm just tryin' to make sure that we can follow through, and make sure that we're getting through to some of these new things that you haven't thought of before. Go ahead and have a seat for a second there. And, I'm gonna turn you the other direction. So spin around, a little bit more, come on around. Right about there is good, yeah. Somethin' like that. So, let me get this thing set up over here. And you're at-- 5.2. Probably gonna be fine. Man I'll go ahead and put my ISO back. We were at 200, yep. That's where...

your meter is. Yep. Okay. Alright so we're back to 200 ISO, and that's gonna work, so we'll take a quick reading. Let's do this. John, let me go ahead and move this light, just a little bit further this way. Whoops, I did that. (beep) I kind of like that. So what you'll see, can we move your chair just about that much? Yep. Yeah. Perfect. Perfect, good! Okay, so we'll just go ahead and get that reading right there. (beep) Eight and a third. Okay, so that's F what? Eight and a third is F... Nine. Nine. f8, f9, f10, f11. Should I confuse them all here? Don't say it. (laughter) We'll get to it. It's in the handout that they're gonna get, yeah okay. So, we're at f9, which is eight and a third. And there's the thing. I'm not gonna try to finesse this too much. Yeah, I just wanna show you that the umbrellas, you know, it is that light shaping tool that is in the kit, usually. It is free and easy to use, and everybody's got 'em lyin' around everywhere. Great, start usin' 'em. Don't put 'em in the closet and think, ah these are no good. Bring your shoulders back my way a little bit more. That's it right there and turn your head just a tiny bit to me. Right there, yep good, good, good, right there. (camera click) Great, so let's just take look this is gonna be a little bit contrasty, and you're gonna see some highlights and there we go. And that's comin' up pretty good. There we go. So there's the monitor. There's the umbrella. You can see the eyes. And in this case, this is a pretty good size umbrella, but the main thing and the reason those highlights in the eyes, the catch lights aren't too small and aren't too bright is because I've got it pretty close. As I pull this back you guys that's where it starts changing, and that's where his forehead, that tip of the nose, all of that's gonna start gettin' shinier and shinier, more and more shiny, shinier? Brighter. Brighter (laughs) brighter (laughs). More gloss-like, more glossy. But-- It's sort of inconsistent with your thinking. By pulling the light back, you're making the highlights brighter. And that's-- It's counterintuitive. Your brain says, oh I can soften it by backing it up. You're doing the opposite. And that's same workin' in the studio. You look at somebody and your eye lies to you. You're lookin' and so this looks good, let me soften it and back it up. You did the exact opposite thing you should be doing. You have to go against what your instincts are sometimes. It's kind of like using a reflective mirror with a bride with a white dress and a white cake and a white curtain on a white tablecloth and you're shootin' on automatic. Your tendency is oh it's gonna be too bright, I gotta close down. Actually, the reflective meter is gonna make it a stop and a half to two stops dark. You gotta open up. It's the opposite of what your brain will say. Your brain is going, no, no, it's too bright. No it's not, it's too dark. (laughter) So, you have to learn that you have to go against yourself sometimes. But I think that this case, listen, there's nothing wrong with that as a light source at all. This thing works pretty good. And in this case, I've got just a little bit of light skimming past him lighting up that background. We can even get more back there by simply doin' this. Let's move you back just a tiny bit, maybe oh, even a little bit further, right in there. Let's move this back a little bit. Something like that. And now I'm just gonna pivot this a little bit, and even use a little bit of the edge of this and send a little bit more of this to the background. Okay, this real quick, let's check that one last time. There we go. (beep) Eight and a half. Okay, so I'm gonna keep my nine right in there. Just push your right arm out, just a tiny bit for me. That's it. That's it. Good, good, good. Here we go, nobody moves, whoo hoo. (beep) (laughs) Zaria cracks up every time I do that. It came from the movie The Princess Bride. Remember when they went to Mad Max's, you know. He's got the 50 cents, okay I'm on the case, and she goes, "Whoo hoo!" (laughter) Well I've used it everyday since. Carol Kane. That was Latka, no Latka's girlfriend, Simka on Taxi, in case you were keeping score. Okay, so take a look at that. What do you think? Can we live with that as a light source? You bet we can. And that's a free source. We've got 'em everywhere. Okay so now, just for fun, let's pull that off, and let's put this one, this is a large umbrella, that is designed as a translucent umbrella. So it's a shoot through umbrella. Oh we're not to the big ones yet. We're gonna save the big ones for tomorrow. This is just your normal large. But this one is designed not to be a reflective umbrella, but to be a shoot through umbrella. And again, it's got a whole different look, and it's a different source of illumination than anything we've seen. You wanna hold that and I'll lower this. Yeah. You got it. Yep. Okay (laughs), sorry. Let me get it over this way. I know and I don't wanna hit our model, and knock him in the head. All of a sudden it's like, hey, hey, get that out of my eyes. You could put your eye out with one of those things. It's like a scene out of Singing in the Rain. It is. (laughter) Here we go, okay good, and then give it about like, oh no, sorry, sorry, sorry, about like that. And then I'll go up with that. And bring that back up. (faint speaking by John) Yeah it does. It's a little bit of a gravity issue with that. There we go. Alright so, we'll take another reading through this. Now, by shooting through this light, and this is a pretty good size source. I haven't measured that, but it's probably close to five feet, but now it becomes a big shoot through source, much like a an Octa, but different because it's not directed and channeled like it is in an Octa. This is just raw light comin' straight through. Ready. (beep) 8.7 (laughs) So it's only a third of stop brighter by aiming it straight at him as it was bouncing into the silver. It's only a third of a stop difference. That's something that's worthy to note because you get under the gun of running and gunning and you get stuck on an aperture that works for ya and the background works and the hair light works and everything works, you don't have to change everything if you make an adjustment. Well this is pretty easy, to make a one-third stop adjustment. So, let's go, let me just see your eyes again. Actually, you're fine, right where you are. Don't do a thing John. Okay. That's easy. Stay there, will ya? Okay, here we go Jason. Jason (laughs). Our professor. (beep) Fold your arms for me Jason. Professor, let me just take a look at this, let me just back up a little bit. A little bit more. Good, good, turn your head this way a little bit toward me, I'm sorry, right there. Yeah, yeah, yeah that's it. Good, right there. (camera click) Great, let me come in and do one more. Good. A little more serious this time. Just a little bit, yeah, right there. Good. (camera click) Good. Okay, so now it's a little bit different. Look at the forehead. That high shine is gone. Sorry. Let me get that back. Come back, come back, come back. I want my, here we go. So let's do this to that level. Could we live with that? The whole shiny spot, right between the eyes is gone now. Because now it's a big soft diffused source, that's taken that highlight and made it larger and larger and larger and less and less and less bright. Which is the same thing the soft box did on the picture of the girl that they're using to promote the class, with the red lipstick and the red jacket and the red fingernail polish. There's no highlight, hotspot on her forehead. Right. Guys, either one of these things I could sell. And these umbrellas are not that costly. So they work really, really well. There's a couple of things that we'll do and I'll show you a couple of things that are kind of variations on the theme that we can pull off, but for the most part, this works really well for a headshot, I think. In fact, it works for a three-quarter. Let me back up. Let's go ahead and get one or two of you standing, and just for fun, John, let's go ahead and get that light turned on, right over there in the corner, that back light. And let's turn that down pretty low power, and just kind of maybe even tip down a little bit with it, and let's go pretty high with it. There you go. And what's your power output on that one? 43. And over here we're at five two. Bring this down-- How much? We're gonna be fine, okay. That's gonna be pretty bright in the corner and again, I'm not gonna take the time to measure it, but we know what's happenin'. Let me get you to come forward a half step, and actually you're fine. Just turn your head to me, right there. A little bit more, right there. I'm just gonna back up, and grab this again. Good. I'm learning, I'm learning to be a prime lens user all over again. I'm learning my distances all over again. So, obviously here's a three-quarter, for an 85, you can see the distance that I'm at, this is a three-quarter length for a very tall guy. Okay, so. That has a totally different feel than what I'm seeing on my monitor, but you get the idea kids. You can see what's happening here, and it's just a nice little portrait and this is an inexpensive thing with one light shaping tool, and one raw head at this point.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Corrective Lighting Techniques for Portraiture
Light Meter Display & F-Stop Setting for Exposure
Scene, Subject, & Light Contrast Article
Judging Image Effectiveness Criteria
Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Stefan Legacy

Bought this class on sale for 19$ and it was a great buy considering it was my first class I purchased on CL. Tony is an excellent teacher and demonstrates extensive knowledge on lighting and different uses of modifiers. Overall this is an excellent course for any one who is interested in learning studio lighting, this will give you a great detail of information.

a Creativelive Student

This is my first time watching Tony Corbell teach and work he was great! I am a natural light photographer and this class made me think about picking up some lights and umbrellas! You can tell he absolutely loves what he does. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

a Creativelive Student

Important information if you want to be a photographer. Great teacher, good pace!!

Student Work