Question: Which is the “best” / most versatile light modifier for portraits?
Answer: The bounce/shoot through umbrella (60″)
The 60″ can be had for around $30 to $40, so it’s fairly inexpensive.
You can photograph a fairly large group with the 60″ umbrella
Or you can photograph 1 person with the 60″ umbrella
The umbrella can be used like… an umbrella
You can bounce the light into it.
You can shoot the light through it so it spreads and scatters the light everywhere.
You can shoot the light into it with the umbrella partially closed and you can use it just like a soft box (you cannot use a soft box like an umbrella)
If you have the right light stand you can also close it down and use it light a beauty dish (you cannot use a beauty dish like an umbrella)
I rest my case! 🙂
Here are a couple of images that I recently made that will be in “Black and White On Both Sides” which is a book I will be publishing later this summer. I have really enjoyed playing with lighting over the last several years. I really like high contrast and low key black and white imagery. I decided to take on a project that consisted of nothing but just that.
The above image was created with a speed light placed directly behind the subject.
The above images was made using a speed light inside of an octabox to camera left.
There are a number of things that have their level of importance in photography. Below I will list and explain each thing.
- Your Brain. Knowing what you want to photograph and how you want to photograph it is the first and most import step in the process of making an image. Knowing what kind of light you’ll need, knowing what king of lens you’ll need are all precursors to the end result.
- The Light. Light is the single most important tool in photography. The word “Photography” itself means to write with light or to light write. Just as important as light is good light or knowing how to use light. There are many difference sources of light such as the sun, street lights, lamps and interior lights, and flashes and strobes. Knowing how to use each one of these is beneficial to making great photographs. There are also modifiers such as umbrellas, soft boxes, grids, and gobos that help modify and direct the light as the photographer sees fit.
- The Lens. There are many many many lenses made by many different lens manufacturers. Some lenses are “better” than others, however, it all depends on what the photographer is looking to do with the lens. There are even cheap plastic lenses used on Holgas, and Diana cameras that can make magical images with the right…… LIGHT (which is why light is number one “tool” on the list).
- The camera. The camera is important but definitely not the most important on the list. The camera is more than a sensor. The digital camera is made up of firmware and processors that help create the image we see on the back of the screen or on the computer.
- Post Processing Software. This is at the bottom of the list, however, for a lot of inexperienced photographers this seems to be more important than it really is. Software such as Lightroom and Photoshop are tool to help enhance or put the finishing touches to create the final product. Many images made by professional photographers actually need very little done to make the image they client may want. However, this is all dependent upon what the final result will be.
*Many people still shoot film. I would put film at number 4 on the list just as important as the camera. The reason being is because in film photography the type of film used will tremendously dictate the end result.