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Chapter One. Using Flash Like a Pro, Par... > Soft Light on Location (the Budget W...

Soft Light on Location (the Budget Way)

Back in The Digital Photography Book, volume 2, I went into great detail about how important it is to diffuse and soften the light from your small flash, so you get professional looking results. Although I usually have you firing through diffusers, here’s another way to get the job done, which is particularly handy for people shooting without an assistant or anyone who can help wrangle the gear during the shoot: use a shoot-through umbrella setup. Now, before I get into this, I want to say up front that I just flat-out don’t like reflective umbrellas, where you aim the umbrella and flash away from your subject, then the light from your flash hits the inside of the umbrella and travels back toward your subject like a lighting grenade. Yeech! However, in this case, you’re actually aiming the flash at your subject, and you’re using a special translucent shoot-through umbrella that’s designed to let you fire your small flash directly through it and right at your subject, giving you a much more concentrated beam than a reflective umbrella does. The advantages are: (1) you can get softer wraparound light with it because you can put the umbrella very close to your subject, (2) it’s an umbrella, so it’s very compact, (3) you can control how large your light source actually is (see the next page), and (4) it’s incredibly inexpensive for a pro setup (yes, a lot of working pros use a similar setup). To make this all work, you need three things (besides your flash unit, of course): a shoot-through umbrella (I use a Westcott 43″ Optical White Satin Collapsible shoot-through umbrella, which sells for around $20); a tilting umbrella bracket, with a flash shoe to support the flash and a slot for the umbrella to slide through (I use a LumoPro LP633 Umbrella Swivel with Flash Shoe Adapter which sells for around $18); and a lightweight light stand (I use a Manfrotto lightweight 6′2″ Nano Stand—around $60). So, the whole setup is just under $100.


  

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