I got the chance this weekend to try out my new umbrella. No, not because it was raining (again), but for photographic purposes of course. This thing isn’t waterproof, anyway.
Flash photography can have a bit of a polarizing effect on people. More than a few times I’ve heard people say “I hate flash!” Well, there may be a few people out there who truly do hate flash for whatever reason. But I would guess that for most, what they really mean is that they hate bad flash photography. And who can blame them? It looks bloody awful.
So what can we do to make it look less bloody awful? Well, we can try to take control of our flash… and one way to do that is with an umbrella.
An umbrella allows us to turn our tiny flash heads into a much larger source of light. This can alleviate the problem of harsh shadows being cast on our subject. And, if we’re shooting with an umbrella, it implies we’re also using our flash off-camera – another staple ingredient of better flash photography.
This umbrella from Westcott comes in thick plastic outer package with a press-stud opening. I assume this is largely for shipping purposes, but it’s worth keeping hold of as it easily works as a little water and dust-resistant carry case. You do get a slip-on sleeve as well which, to be fair, is not that difficult to get on, but I found it easier to just put the umbrella in the plastic case and have done with it.
The construction is what I would describe as “good”. There is a fine balance between robustness and weight and I think the compromise between the two is about spot on. The last thing we want is a top-heavy light stand.
I was really quite pleased with the performance of the umbrella. Granted, there is not much to go wrong with such a product, but nonetheless it did exactly what it said on the tin. I do, however, have one significant complaint about this Westcott offering… its prickly bits.
If you plan to use this primarily as a shoot-through like I am, then you might be just as annoyed to find the finish on the tips of the umbrella itself a bit rough. They are not sharp, but as you can see from the photo, they’re not exactly friendly-looking either. I found it somewhat appropriate to warn the model to be aware of these and not catch herself on them. The black removable cover has nice, rounded ends and it’s a shame this corner has been cut.
I paid £22 for this umbrella and although I feel a little disappointed about a couple of things, I don’t have many complaints. If you’re on a tight budget it would be worth shopping around for a cheaper option.
Recommended, but if you have the chance to go into a shop and give a few different options a closer inspection then you might find it worthwhile.