What’s the Difference? is a series of video lighting tutorials. Each episode responds to a single question. In this episode, Jared Platt is overpowering the sun with the help of an umbrella. The entire series, including all videos, articles and lighting diagrams, is available at our website. And feel free to leave a question to Jared in the comment section if you have one!
There are many reasons to choose one Light Shaping Tool over another. Most of the time it’s the size or the shape that determines.
In this lighting challenge, however, we came up with a completely different reason to choose our modifier: power!
With a Bare Head
The very first thing I did with the couple was to turn them away from the sun. I didn’t want them squinting. Plus the sun makes for a very effective hairlight.
I then positioned the main flash to fill in the shadows on their bodies and their faces. The flash needed to be over 10 feet away from the couple, otherwise my camera would see the equipment. This meant that the flash would need to be at full power to be productive. It is, after all, overpowering the sun in Arizona!
Needing all the power we could get, a softbox was completely out of the question. The simplest option was to point a bareheaded B2 Off-Camera Flash at the couple. You can see in the example image below that while the bare head lit the couple, it was still a little dim.
We could’ve increased the power of that light by simply bringing it closer to the couple. But the light was already on the edge of our frame. So closer was not an option.
Changing our exposure settings could certainly help. Increasing the ISO, or decreasing the f-number and then compensating with the shutter speed could have done the trick. But let’s just assume we wanted our f-stop at 4 and our ISO at 50. What then?
Well, at that point we’d have to return to the flash and look for a way to increase its power.
Overpowering the Sun with an Umbrella
Adding the right Light Shaping Tools was the right thing to do. Profoto offer a number of light magnifying modifiers that will increase the power of the flash. The modifier we chose in this case was the Profoto Umbrella Deep Silver S.
The Umbrella Deep is easy to transport, simple to attach and is overall a very effective light magnifier. The deeper shape and silver surface have a magnifying effect on the light, and with the B2 Head shoved all the way into the umbrella, the power of the light is increased by nearly a full stop. Watch the image below and see for yourself.
Knowing your light modifiers not only means understanding how they shape the light, but also how much light the can produce.
Softboxes and diffusers cut your light’s power. By how much? A deep silver umbrella, on the other hand, can increase your power. So can the Magnum Reflector. By how much?
Get to know your modifiers so that when you encounter a lighting challenge, you know which tool will solve the problem.