Umbrella Lighting

Discover why you should never underestimate the umbrella.

Most photographers own or use an umbrella at least once in their career. However, many photographers upgrade to other modifiers such as softboxes, beauty dishes or even parabolic reflectors without fully realising exactly what they could achieve with umbrellas.

In this show, Karl addresses common questions such as:

  • What are umbrella lights used for in photography?
  • What are the different types of photography umbrellas?
  • How to use a photography umbrella

Taking a closer look at umbrella lighting, Karl explores how these affordable modifiers work, what makes each of them different and how you can use them. This show provides comparisons between the different types of umbrellas as well as with other modifiers such as softboxes, beauty dishes and paras.

You’ll clearly see how effective these affordable modifiers can be as well as how they compare to other, more high-end, modifiers and Karl also shares his opinion on which modifier from the show offers the best value for money.

In this class:

  • Umbrella lighting
  • How umbrellas work
  • Different types of photography umbrellas
  • The advantages of umbrella lighting
  • Lighting modifier comparisons:

- Shoot through umbrella vs reflective umbrella
- Reflective umbrella vs deep umbrella
- Umbrellas vs softboxes
- Umbrella vs beauty dish
- Umbrellas vs parabolic reflectors

To learn more about umbrella lighting for photography, take a look at our in-depth article on umbrella lighting modifiers.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

Umbrella lighting modifiers


  1. Hi Karl, in one of your live recordings you had a strobe with standard reflector in front of a softbox, like light layering, and mentioned another class where you go more into depth on that kind of set up. Could you please let me know where I can find it?



    1. Hi Damir, I’m not sure which class you mean where I had a strobe in front of a softbox? I can’t remember ever doing that. I do however regularly have a studio flash in front of a scrim?

  2. I realized you talk in the video about how the shinier silver produces more sparkle, but I wasn’t sure how the size of the umbrellas might impact that compared with the sparkly effects of the broncolor or what would be most versatile for headshots and senior portraits.

  3. Hi Karl,

    I’m trying to figure out how a few umbrellas I’m considering would compare to the broncolor focus 110 as currently those are running about $270 with tax in the US. I gathered from their site that it’s 43.3” in diameter and 15.75” in depth.

    I was considering a larger deep umbrella such as the Glow Easy Lock X-Large Deep Silver Fiberglass Umbrella (65″) which also comes in beaded silver or white. They don’t specify the depth but I can try and find that out. I was also looking at this 63” deep umbrella on Amazon.

    Can you help me understand how the different colored backings would impact the effects? And also which of the larger umbrellas might mimic the effects of the broncolor focus 110 based on their shapes?

    1. Hi, the Adorama one looks about the right shape and is similar to the Deep Focus, the silver would be your best option if you’re looking to shoot fashion.

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