I’ve seen a few articles on how to setup your flash/strobe with an umbrella to get maximum coverage, but none as easy as the one my dad pointed out to me. So, I thought I’d share this quick and easy way to get your umbrella setup in your umbrella adapter or your flash head.
Since we have immediate gratification with digital photography, this is very easy to achieve. Set your umbrella in the mount (For the umbrella adapter style mount, make sure you have it installed the correct way) to approximately where you think it belongs on the umbrella shaft, then, bring it in a little closer, or, choke up on it. Using a standard umbrella, even through the black, your flash’s light pattern is clearly visible.
Now, go on the other side of the umbrella, the top if you were using it in rain (not recommended), yes, for both shot through, and for opaque/black backed ones, and take a photo of it. Look at your display – do the edges look dark? Bring the umbrella out a little, take another shot, there yet? Rinse, repeat, until you get the desired result.
The same technique also works for shoot-through umbrellas. Drop your flash power a bit if you can’t catch the pattern.
When you finally find the spot, mark it – sharpie, scratches, some way of marking the umbrella shaft so you can setup quicker. There may be a time when you want to use the distance between the flash and the umbrella “creatively”, but this technique works for all those situations.