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Basics on Video: Umbrella Setup

David James is back with a second installment of off-camera flash basics.

In Part One, he showed you some off-camera synching options. This time, it is how to set up a flash on an umbrella.

If you want basic-basic, this is for you. If all of this technical lighting mumbo-jumbo is taxing yer throbbing brain, Mr. James is ready to hold your hand and make the hurt go away.

Go ahead and watch it. I won't tell.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone please list out the B&H product numbers for what was described here? My concern is that I'll order something that I think matches what I saw and it won't fit together. Thank you.

July 06, 2007 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What he refers to as a hot shoe is really a cold shoe since it only holds the flash but cannot activate it.

July 06, 2007 12:44 PM  
Blogger Costas said...

Is there a link that explains the use of softboxes with flashes? I wanna do the same thing done in this video but use a softbox instead, but I don't know where to start. I've seen some on ebay but what would be the best size? I'd use it for people and cars. Would they mount just fine to lighting stands? I saw the DIY softbox thing but would rather just purchase one already made online.


July 06, 2007 12:48 PM  
Blogger Craig Patchett said...

David compensates for the added height of the eBay trigger by adjusting the trigger so the flash is pointing towards the umbrella. While this fixes the height problem, however, it also decreases the distance between the flash head and the umbrella. Are you better off just leaving the flash head up high and aiming the head itself at the center of the umbrella (possibly without the diffuser)? Or does having the diffuser on the flash mean that you're better off with the head closer to the umbrella to avoid too much spill?

July 06, 2007 2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That thumbscrew on the hotshoe of the umbrella clamp is troublesome. It gets in the way often, and doesn't do a good job of holding in loose shoes.

A better way of mounting the ebay triggers would be to remove the aluminum hotshoe mount from the umbrella bracket, and then mounting the ebay trigger directly to the brass post in the umbrella bracket.

And before using an umbrella, it might be a good idea to remove the the stofen diffuser to reduce one's carbon footprint :-)

July 06, 2007 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

quite possibly the most boring and slowest pace to any instructional video i've ever seen. next to the last one he did.

i don't mean to be a hater, but this sort of thing wouldn't even fly in a classroom.

and furthermore, is this something that really requires instruction? i know a lot of us are at different levels, but with something like an umbrella, bracket, and stand things only really fit together one way. it's not exactly a puzzle. definitely not a 7 minute long puzzle at least.

July 06, 2007 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Pamela Vasquez said...

Very important demo...I needed it a few months ago when I had no idea what a stand or holder was. Thanks. One question...what is an ebay trigger? I gather it is so you can adjust the flash down the way you did (which I like) is there another use for it? Did I spell it right?

July 06, 2007 3:18 PM  
Blogger Jim Plush said...

awesome, just watched both vids. Ordered my stuff yesterday. Can't wait to start trying it out :)

July 06, 2007 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Both excellent videos for really giving a hands-on look at how all this goes together. Though a lot of us have probably seen part 2 through YouTube's helpful related video linking :)

This video, together with Strobist's excellent lighting tutorials, have caused me to seriously consider obtaining such a set-up in the not too distant future.

This weekend I'm playing with a halogen light I have, as a hot-light, to experiment with some of the concepts and justify to myself that it is worth buying the extra equipment!

Thanks David (both of you!), keep up the good work!

July 06, 2007 4:30 PM  
Blogger Gerry Morgan said...

It would be even better to get the eBay trigger out from between the umbrella holder and the flash, and then to mount the flash directly on top of the umbrella holder. This would make the flash slightly further from the umbrella when tilted towards the umbrella, and therefore better able to spread the light beam out towards the edges of the umbrella. It also makes the whole setup more secure.

Obviously, this is only possible for flashes that allow you to connect the trigger via some type of cable (i.e., most brands except Canon; or modified Canon flashes; or the latest 580Ex for those on a lavish budget).

July 06, 2007 5:32 PM  
Blogger Tang said...

I would suggest adding the umbrella first before mounting the flash, you never know what might happen, so it's always best to mount the most important piece of device last. :)

July 06, 2007 10:04 PM  
Blogger Dr. Know-it-all said...

Easy as pie metering for this setup:

I built my first rig like this in 2002, and it remained my only lighting gear until Nov 2006. An important addition to the setup shown in the video is a metering cord.

Here's how to make one:
1. Get some nylon bailing string.
2. Tie the end of the string to the flash shoe.
3. Using a flash meter, take a series of readings from the flash and tie a knot at each point on the string where light loses one stop.

That's it. Now, you've got an easy as pie pre-metered flash, so that you don't have to worry about exposure at all, and you can focus on direction.

July 06, 2007 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with my friend "anonymous" who mentioned the glacial pace and pedantic tone of this video which could have been easily communicated in about 90 seconds. It's almost Pythonesque! Ironically, the most important bit of info for the newcomer, what the trigger actually is, is missing. Calling it an "ebay" trigger is like saying you have a "B&H camera." Also, as someone else mentioned, you don't use a Stoffen Omnibonce when you're shooting into an umbrella.

July 06, 2007 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm gonna have to agree with anonymous above that this video, while instructive to those who really need some hand-holding, suffers from some really bad editing...and videography, like photography, is about technique.

Some quick suggestions: 1) condense it...most of this is self-evident; 2) learn how to keep the audio track rolling during the cutaway shots...otherwise they're weirdly aggravating; 3) pep it up a bit, man!

Of course, you could always throw in a cool music track like JACOBthePHOTOGRAPHER does in his vids. ;-)

July 07, 2007 12:18 AM  
Blogger cl0ne said...

I think you could eliminate much of the off centre issue by using the 16 channel Ebay triggers.

July 07, 2007 7:03 AM  
Blogger bartron said...

To those Anonymous's that think the video is slow, nothing stopping you from making your own video.

Personally I prefer the slower pace. It allows time for the info to soak in and the style of "explain the method - show a picture" enforces what is being taught.

David, keep up the good work.

July 07, 2007 9:27 AM  
Blogger SeanMcC said...

I find it slow and badly edited, especially in the cutaways. But he's out there doing it. So as another poster mentions, if you don't like it, so your own.
The key is to be concise, have more than one angle and run to a rehearsed script.

At least he's not sniffing in this one. (Apologies to David).

July 07, 2007 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a Link to a company that makes a ball head with an umbrella mount and a hotshoe adapter for it:

the site isn't too good so here is the link to a site that sells them:

just look for the head under blitzzubehör

Sorry it's in german. Maybe andromeda or B&H have them too.

July 08, 2007 9:02 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

Anyone knows if the Canon 580EX II will work with these kind of umbrella mounts? Since the rubber weather cover around the hotshoe might be a problem for tight fit.

July 09, 2007 6:02 PM  
Blogger Lars said...

I just looked for these kind of mounting plates and found some at ebay... this isnt an ad, just a help for all those lazy people like me, that just want to click on links.
Look at this:

July 12, 2007 2:59 AM  
Anonymous PDUB said...

Thanks for the video! As a new Strobist, I will take all the hands on, slowly walk me through, show me and and explain it to me ... videos, I can get.

For many of us, flash photography is a whole new game. I am an engineer by training and expert in my own field, but I still remember the days of trying to figure out the basics.

I look forward to more videos

July 10, 2008 5:02 PM  

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