I live in Florida and shoot around the river and beach where it is windy. I just started shooting models and the last outing i had an umbrella on a light stand fall over...yes, I had sandbags on it, but apparently not enough.
Anyways, my questions is, the umbrella fell and got damaged...it was a cheap Adorama $19 umbrella. I am wondering if I would be better off buying a more expensive umbrella. Are they sturdier or just as likely to get damaged?
Anyone have any recomendations for which umbrella to try next???
#1. "RE: Heavy Duty Umbrellas????" | In response to Reply # 0mwmbjones Registered since 30th May 2006Thu 03-Sep-09 08:33 PM
Shooting outdoors with a full lighting rig is always a problem, and getting the kind of perfect, even lighting you need for model portfolios or fashion assignments just makes it worse. If you want to do this kind of work at the highest level, you need to resign yourself to the necessity of bringing along lots of assistants to aim your lights and keep your umbrellas from turning into sails. Unless you have lots of friends who think gripping for a model shoot would be the highlight of their day, high-end fashion photography tends to be an expensive proposition.
There isn't a lot of commercial fashion work in my decidedly rural neighborhood, so most of my model photography is low-priced portfolio work for the models themselves. Occasionally, we'll cooperate on a TFCD shoot where neither of us makes any money at all. So... usually no crew, and even in perfect conditions, lugging around the amount and type of lighting gear this kind of imagery requires is a hassle if you're shooting alone. In windy conditions (and as you've no doubt discovered, it doesn't take much of a breeze to qualify as a "windy condition" when umbrellas are involved), you can add the weight and extra inconvenience of sandbags to the equation. It's tough, and frankly I have yet to discover a weight solution that will both hold down the light in moderate wind and be portable enough to manage on a run-and-gun shoot. I've lost a lot of umbrellas and a couple of Speedlights over the years. Lost a beautiful Fresnel a few years back on a video shoot. Grr...
That said, your best bet for a highly portable weight system is a water bag. Several lighting companies sell them; you fill them up when you get to the location and empty them when you leave. In VERY light wind, they'll do the job, and rolling them up when they're empty makes them easily transportable.
As for which umbrella to buy, I've learned to opt for the inexpensive ones. The damage is usually a bent spine, and re-straightening them after they're sproinged is rarely completely successful. Cheap ones don't hurt so much to replace. As for the damage to the light, I advise carrying one of those really big bandannas to soak up your tears; models love to comfort you after a production disaster, but after awhile copious weeping will start to seem terribly unmanly, and the models will begin to remember that they were supposed to be the center of womanly attention on the shoot, not you.
Writer, rider, shooter
#2. "RE: Heavy Duty Umbrellas????" | In response to Reply # 1aj_witt Registered since 13th Feb 2008Thu 03-Sep-09 08:42 PM
Bruce, thanks for your input, I really appreciate it!
So your saying if my equipment gets damaged, I should sulk and pout and the model (hopefully a female on that particluar shoot) will console me????? Hmm.....
I have been buying the cheap ones and guess I will continue doing so. I like the water bag idea, I've been using sand bags, but lugging them around is not so much fun!
#3. "RE: Heavy Duty Umbrellas????" | In response to Reply # 0
>I live in Florida and shoot around the river and beach where
>it is windy. I just started shooting models and the last
>outing i had an umbrella on a light stand fall over...yes, I
>had sandbags on it, but apparently not enough.
>Anyways, my questions is, the umbrella fell and got
>damaged...it was a cheap Adorama $19 umbrella. I am wondering
>if I would be better off buying a more expensive umbrella.
>Are they sturdier or just as likely to get damaged?
>Anyone have any recomendations for which umbrella to try
I just buy several cheap ones and have a couple extra with me on every shoot for exactly that problem.
When it's really windy, I just trust the shoot to my Gary Fong Light Sphere II. It has to be VERY windy to blow that thing off!
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide
#4. "RE: Heavy Duty Umbrellas????" | In response to Reply # 0
I am doing a lot more scrimming and reflecting than strobes for this type of outdoor shooting now. You have to have a lot more of and more expensive equipment to shape light outdoors than using scrims and reflectors. A big enough scrim can be used as a giant softbox. Add some cheap reflectors to the mix to get some highlights on the hair and you have a pretty good lighting set up. But this requires assistants to hold things. If you want to do beach portrait photography, I do not think that there is any way of getting around using assistants. They don't have to be highly trained as you can direct them where to hold and point.