If you’ve been following my recent articles, you’ll know that I’ve been on an umbrella modifier trend. I just love how portable and easy to set up they are.
It's pretty wild to think about the impact that such a small piece of gear can have on the look and feel of a shoot. It's fantastic from the perspective of having access to umbrella modifiers but also from the perspective of being more willing to experiment. You really never know what kind of an impact a piece of gear or a particular prop might have. Experiment, play, and generally try new things, especially when you have the creative and time freedom to do so on your own shoots.
For this test shoot, I wanted to photograph a dark skin model in a lavish outfit while she was backlit. Dicky Ishak had provided gowns for my photoshoots before, so going to him to work together for this was an easy decision. My aim was to achieve an image that was both expensive and classy.
Model-wise, I’ve worked with Kyiona multiple times and have always loved her look. I also have a good enough working relationship with her for her to endure my random shoot ideas. I guess no loss for her as long as I promise more beautiful images for her portfolio!
For most backlit images I’ve seen, the majority of them are usually backlit by a huge octa softbox or through a scrim. In the name of experimenting and mostly due to my own laziness, I wanted to try having the images backlit by the huge translucent umbrella. I had also only received that umbrella recently and really wanted to try it out!
The umbrella truly was huge compared to my very small, beautiful face. However, it turns out models are really tall. Who knew?! Due to that, I added an additional smaller umbrella on top of my big umbrella just so I could cover the model head to... knees.
The main image was only lit by the umbrellas behind. However, this lighting only really works beautifully when the model is side profile. Once she turns her head towards the camera, the lighting on her face became a little too underexposed. For these shots, I added another light in front with a silver modifier.
In some of the images, you could see some of the umbrellas ribs when highlights were brought down, and it took additional retouching to remove them. I guess that’s one thing you would not have to worry about if using an octa softbox or a shoot-through scrim! Editing was mostly quite basic, as Kyiona had great skin. Colors were brought together nicely with Pratik Naik’s Infinite Color Panel.
Created a moving image with the first image of the shoot. Really loved the results!
Umbrellas are truly versatile and fun to work with! Do you like using umbrellas in your own setups? What other kind of gear do you work with that you absolutely swear by?
Photographer: Shavonne Wong
Makeup: Vera Lim
Wardrobe: Dicky Ishak