Today is Black & White Friday

by | Oct 16, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

“A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain.”— Robert Frost

I’ve said it before but I think that it’s worth repeating: Photographic umbrellas are the simplest and most inexpensive form of light modifier and that makes them the most popular too.

Photographic umbrellas look and act like rain umbrellas except sometimes they’re reflective and light is bounced into or shot through them creating a big, soft light source that’s aimed at the subject. Sometimes their fabrics are translucent (or made of diffusion material) too.

Size does matter. This is not one of Farace’s Laws, its one of the basic laws of photographic lighting: The closer a light source is to a subject, the softer the lighting effect will be. And the larger a light source is to a subject, the softer the lighting will be. This old lighting rule is important because a large umbrella is going to produce broad, soft light for your portraits.

How I made this shot: For my first session with Misa Lynn wearing a black dress I used a simple lighting set up. (See above right.) I placed a single Speedotron Brown Line M11 head inside a 48-inch black-backed silver umbrella. A 32-inch round reflector was placed at camera right with the power pack set in asymmetrical mode.

The backdrop is an inexpensive gray muslin that I overused and eventually sold to to a friend’s son who was interested in trying studio portraiture. It was hung from my still falling apart JTL background stands.

The camera used was a Canon EOS 5D Mark I with a EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (at 105mm.)  This simple lighting set-up produced an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/14 and 100 ISO. The original color JPEG file was converted to monochrome using Silver Efex Pro with the Glamour Glow filter from Color Efex Pro added for the final touch.


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My book Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography is full of tips, tools and techniques for glamour and boudoir photography and includes information on all of the cameras used as well as the complete exposure data for each image. New books are available from Amazon for $20.99 with used copies starting at $8.90 as I write this, a bargain if I ever heard of one. Kindle version is $19.99 for those preferring a digital format.