Last week we discussed softboxes, which are used to control the spill of light. Umbrellas serve a very similar function and are also used heavily in portrait photography. Just like a softbox, an umbrella will diffuse light, creating a softer light to fall on your subject. The umbrella will bounce light in different directions, creating a clearer image with little to no shadows.
There are two colored umbrellas you can use: white and black/silver. A white umbrella is better for indoor photography and will create a softer glow. In order to use it you must shoot light directly through the umbrella. If you want to get rid of shadowing, you must angle the light. To achieve this, position the umbrella so that the shadow is behind your subject. This is what is typically done when shooting portraits.
A black/silver umbrella is used to brighten your subject. In order to utilize it properly, you must direct light on the silver interior. Even though you are directing light directly to your subject, it will not wash out the image.
If you want to make the most of your photographs, combine both pieces of photography lighting. Using both will allow you to eliminate shadow while giving your subject a nice glow. Use the black/silver umbrella as your main light source and use the white to diffuse the light.
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