I am generally someone who likes to use a lot of different kinds of light modifiers. Something that initially attracted me to Photoflex’s products was the versatility of their OctoDomes. I am always looking for more solutions to different situations and Photoflex’s latest umbrella diffusion cover does not disappoint.
My most recent shoot I was shooting a fitness story then a few swimsuit options with fitness model Courtney King. We’d have to hike up to a location that would mean we would want to travel light. Sure Photoflex’s OctoDomes are all very travel friendly, but one advantage of the umbrella/softcover option is that no speedring was needed, nor any reflector.
To start, I wanted to get a sense of the light in a controlled environment, so while we looked at the various clothing options my assistant quickly put up the Photoflex 45” umbrella and cover. Usually when I work with umbrellas I am setting them as background lights- either behind my subject or on the background. Because I am making this umbrella my key light the angle would not be direct to my subject the way that I would with a MultiDome, HalfDome or OctoDome. Instead, we set the umbrella to more of a “tabletop” angle, in this case at about a 40-degree angle.
You can see the results below. With a Photoflex 45” white umbrella and the diffusion cover set to camera right, higher than my subject and set to about a 40 degree angle, you can see the light has a nice soft spread giving a “clean” lighting look.
Out on the trail, we shot a bunch of images with available light, but as the sun dipped behind a hill, we needed to supplement the light and balance it with the background. With no poles or speed rings to contend with the umbrella goes up rather quickly. We attached the umbrella and diffusion cover to a Profoto B1 on a Photoflex LiteReach Plus.
Matching the same style as the test frame, my assistant held the light on the LiteReach Plus and depending on the angle of the model’s face I would instruct him to lower or raise the light. Personally I like to see a little catch light in the subject’s eyes.
The soft and clean quality of the light has a similar effect to something like a bounced light. That can be affected as well by the distance the light is from the subject. You can see in the examples below that at about 10-12 feet away, the light has a nice spread to it, whereas in the latter capture, the light is closer and has a more shadowed feel to it.
The nice thing about a soft light source like this is that there is a lot of room to play. Moving the light around, as well as changing the angle of the light yields many different results. As I mentioned, I personally would not aim it directly. This is because the beauty of the light being on top is the subtlety of the quality of the light, which I think is enhanced by the cover’s fabric.
Light Leader Ian Spanier was born in Connecticut and raised in Westchester, New York. Spanier's interest in photography began at age six when his parents gave him his first camera. His work has received numerous awards from major photo competitions and the design community and Ian is a regular contributor of photo-educational content to PDN MAgazine. Currently, Ian resides in Los Angeles, California. See more of Ian's work at his website.