Louise Q. put this excellent question on my Facebook Wall:
Q. What are the benefits of using different umbrellas e.g. black, white, silver?
A. Wow I’m loving the questions I get for reader question Wednesdays! To answer your question, I’d have to say that, for me, the benefit of having different umbrellas means I can match them to my outfits. Just kidding! I totally know you’re talking about the umbrellas which go on strobe flash heads! :)
There are two types of umbrellas and usually, they are one umbrella which adapts to use in one of the two following ways: A ‘bounce’ umbrella is one where the light shoots into the umbrella and bounces the light back at the subject. In this manner, the strobe head (or even simply a speedlite) faces away from the subject and into the umbrella. The material of the bounce fabric can be white, silver or golden to give different effects to the light quality. The other way is to use it as a ‘shoot-through’ umbrella. In this way, the light faces the subject and the umbrella filters the light through it’s transparent white film.
As far as the colours go (for bounce umbrellas) this is a general guide:
As for the different uses:
- Bounce = High specular light. More controlled. The bigger the umbrella, the wider the spread of light. I use this as the fill light in a 2-light set-up.
- Shoot-through = High contrast light. More dramatic. Light spread is wide. I use as the key light when I’m too lazy to assemble my soft box.