Video: How a large umbrella transforms natural light outdoor portraits


posted Tuesday, August 9, 2022 at 11:30 AM EDT


When shooting natural light outdoor portraits, the sun is an important part of your lighting. However, the sun is extremely bright and high overhead for much of the day, creating harsh shadows. You could use artificial light to help even things out, but that's another piece of gear to worry about. In his latest "Laws of Light" video, Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens shows how using a shoot through umbrella can transform challenging natural light into beautiful light.

In the video below, Morgan shows how to position a portrait subject with bright overhead light. The next step is to have the sunlight come through a large umbrella. Morgan is using a Westcott 7' white diffusion umbrella and stand. Without the umbrella, the harsh overhead light is causing many shadows on the subject, and it just looks bad. The 7' umbrella completely changes the light, making it much softer while maintaining a natural look.

If you place the subject facing the sun and then put the umbrella in front of the subject, the light will be very soft and a bit flat. If you want light with more directionality, you can move the umbrella to the subject's side, which builds a bit more shadow on the subject's face, adding depth. Both styles are equally valid, of course, but the important takeaway is that you can change the look by moving the umbrella around and changing the distance between the umbrella and your subject.

If you'd like to learn more about lighting, check out The Slanted Lens's full "Laws of Light" video playlist. It includes more than 50 videos all about different aspects of lighting portraits, including full lighting tutorials, tips for using high-speed sync outdoors, product reviews, and much more. For more general videos, visit The Slanted Lens on YouTube.

(Via The Slanted Lens