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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 05 Jun 2016 (Sunday) 11:51
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First time using an Umbrella for fill flash

Douglas ­ Conway
227 posts
Gallery: 31 photos
Likes: 400
Joined Aug 2012
Jun 05, 2016 11:51 |  #1

Metz 52 af flash
Photoflex 45 inch umbrella
Canon 6d
pocket wizards.
Lenses are a 35 f1.4, 85 1.2 and zooms that go from 16 to 400
I also have a multi disc 32" reflector.
I am going to be taking this out for the first time to use as fill/primary to shot outdoor portraits. The umbrella can either reflect or use to shoot through.
I would appreciate any advice on camera/flash settings.
The area that I plan on shooting is wooded and in shade. I realize that manual setting on the flash is the only option. I plan on having someone hold the flash on a boom so I can play with the angles. I haven't tried the difference in the two ways the umbrella works.
I will be playing around with it first but any suggestions are appreciated.


"Looks rough and well used"
12,729 posts
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Joined Feb 2013
Location: Florida
Jun 05, 2016 12:20 |  #2


With that setup, you might want to add a light meter, it will speed up the process and make it accurate for the first shot, instead of chimping all day. Biggest life saver in lighting in my opinion after having done it without one for so long, then got one and immediately wondered why I waited so long to get it.

So, there are not blanket settings to apply. It all depends on the ambient light and your sync speeds.

So a few things:

1) In the shade, with a synch speed of 1/180s on the 6D, you may find that something at F1.4 and F1.2 is too bright even at ISO 100 when you meter the environment. You may have to stop down to F2.8 or use a ND filter to drop ambient light more while staying at your top sync speed. I doubt you'll need a slower shutter at F1.4 and F1.2 in shade outdoors on a sunny day. On a very overcast day in the shade, you may have less light and get away with those apertures at a slower shutter speed.

2) Natural light is a natural rim/hair light, so pay attention to it's placement in your composition. This will also help you do the key or fill light with your flash. It will have to be close proximity to your subject to actually do more than just fill on a sunny day even in the shade (ie, not 12 feet away). 4~5 feet away should be able to work out depending on how bright it is outside. Closer is better though, softer light, and the modifier is larger for the distance the closer it is to the subject.

3) Fill light is generally about -2/3rds to -1 stop below key exposure with your flash, just enough to fill shadows, but not enough to be a key light. With a light meter you can nail this in one go. Without it, you have to just chimp and look at your histogram & LCD to judge it that way, which is inaccurate, but it's all you have.

4) Gels are important when blending flash & ambient light. Flash temp is generally daylight temp. So if you're shooting in shade or middle of the day light, it should be fine. Late evening light when it warms up, that's where it will be an issue to shoot with cold flash temp light. So a 1/4th CTO gel is nice to have if you're shooting late evening light so you can blend it in and not look like obvious "flash".

5) Practice, practice, practice.

6) Practice.

7) Light meters help a ton to speed this process and make it accurate without chimping all day and losing light. Cheap investment compared to what you're shooting with!

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link)

"I am still in my underwear."
7,728 posts
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Joined Oct 2015
Jun 05, 2016 12:34 |  #3

Don't forget the 6D has ISO 50 available.

I can get my umbrellas/stands closer to my subjects if I shoot THROUGH, but that seems to cause some hotspot issues if I get too close. Using them as reflectors eliminates the hotspot problem, but I can't set up as close. This may be due to my extremely cheap umbrellas (30" Cowboy Studios).

FWIW, I use YN-622 triggers. Never a problem.


Douglas ­ Conway
227 posts
Gallery: 31 photos
Likes: 400
Joined Aug 2012
Jun 05, 2016 17:15 |  #4

Thanks for the comments. I played a bit today. Really have to turn the power down on the flash even shooting through the umbrella. I will look into getting a lightmeter. Local camera shop is having a big sale next week. Need a stand and some bits also


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First time using an Umbrella for fill flash
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