Monday, 31 March 2008

The Umbrella Softbox

Thought I'd give you a quick "preview" of a product - The Umbrella Softbox - that might be of interest to Strobist readers after a recent post on rethinking umbrellas. So first the background:

The Strobist post was comparing reflective umbrellas to shoot through umbrellas and then after a while softboxes got brought into the debate through the comments. So what tools of the trade work best, particularly for speedlight applications (small light source)?

The consensus seems to be that for most applications shoot through umbrellas work best unless you have a large group and need the added efficiency of a reflective umbrella where you can't just bring it closer to the subject. Anyway more info on the reasons for that in the post I liked to above.

Now we come to softboxes, I haven't ever used them so forgive my ignorance and correct me if I'm wrong, but they seem to be about having more control over your light. They can give you a more directed light source and less spill out the back which allows you to isolate where you put your light. In contrast to using a shoot through umbrella where you almost create a bare bulb type light source. So this begs the question, why use umbrellas?

Umbrellas are quick to set up, pack down small and are cheap! So basically it is a cost and convenience thing, they work pretty well for most circumstances, plus if you know their limitations you can work around them. But is there a better way?

I saw this "Umbrella Softbox" at the Envisage IT and Photo eBay store a while ago when looking for another umbrella and very nearly bought it. At the time I was a bit strapped for cash so I just bought a standard umbrella but I'm thinking it could be a great balance between an umbrella and a softbox. It will still act as a shoot through umbrella for the forward 180ยบ but the black cover will greatly reduce the spill out the back and may prevent some lens flare if you have it position between your camera and the subject. On the downside it looks like the flash would have to be choked up the shaft quite a bit more so some form of wide angle adaptor may be required if you want an even spread of light.

I've seen them for sale a few place but drop a comment if you know anywhere else that sells them or what your experience is with them.


Disclaimer: I don't have any association with these stores nor do I specifically endorse any of them, this is simply listed stores that appear to stock this item.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

In all its glory

My mother rang me up recently to see if I could take some photos of an orchid (actually technically a Gloriosa Superba or Glory/Flame Lilly) that was flowering so I thoughtI'd give you a quick post about some photos I took recently and a bit of the story behind them.

Ok technically it was pretty simply, I thought I'd have a go shooting in direct sun with a reflector, it didn't work great, but I got the one below. Basically the light was just too hard and there were harsh shadows that couldn't be filled due to the shape of the flower.

So I moved inside with a black back drop, I put a shoot through umbrella with sb-25 on the left slightly above and angled down a little, a reflector on the other side, a bit below and angled up (white roof also provided some fill from the spill) and ended up with the shot up top and the one below. I also shot a bunch of other angles and individual part of the flower and was able to keep the lighting pretty much the same for all of them.

Background story:
Basically this was my grandmothers and as the story goes after she passed away my mother was cleaning up and came across this "empty" pot with nothing but dirt in and very nearly threw it out! But because my grandmother was into gardening particularly spectacular (and often rare) flowers so she held on to the pot for a while and look what grew! So more that just being a spectacular flower it will always be a reminder of my wonderful grandmother.