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As an adjunct to the Tangents blog, the intention with this forum is to answer any questions, and allow a diverse discussion of topics related photography. With that, see it as an open invitation to just climb in and start threads and to respond to any threads.

Question re: best umbrella for reception lighting at a wedding

So I really want to use my Einstein strobe with an umbrella at the next wedding I shoot.  I picked up the new pocket wizard which lets me have a flash on my camera and will still trigger the einstein.   In my research, I heard that sometimes guests complain about the brightness of the light.  If I put it very high on a stand and angle it down, that should help reduce the inconvenience to guests, right?

Also, I am wondering whether I should use a shoot through white umbrella, or bounce the light into a silver umbrella.  Pros and cons?

Finally, I am wondering what power to put the Einstein on, or whether I am better off using the 400 AB to make sure the output is low.  I really just want a kiss of light on the back of my subjects, a rim lighting/kicker light.  And I want a bit of depth to the image.  A low power light will do that, right?  I don't need to blast the dance floor?  

Thank you.   I've photographed a few weddings a year since 2011, but I really want to up my game.  


  • Angela

    As each location is unique you will have to choose what
    works best for the location and the equipment you have.  These are two examples that the location dictated
    the method used.  Each of these methods I
    used 4 monolights manually set, and an on camera flash for fill, shooting in

    Location 1) Very large hall with very high, white ceilings,
    the monolights were set high on light stands in 4 different corners of the room.
    I skimmed the light along the ceiling for a very large light source.

    Location 2) A large hall with a 10 to 12 foot, dark ceiling,
    and the ceiling had large beams running beneath it which made it impossible to
    skim the light along the ceiling.  In
    this situation I used shoot through umbrellas and the monolights were set up in
    4 different corners of the room.

    Without the monolights these halls were virtually black
    holes, with the monolights I was able to get nice soft even lighting on the
    dance floor and the background had depth to it. 
    In both of these situations each of the moonlight was a 1600 Alien Bee;
    I don’t remember the power setting but probably close to the top end, as I can
    close down the aperture.  

  • Hi, qrickman - as I read your post, I looked for info about the Alien Bees unit(s). I don't do a lot of stuff with off-camera flash, but when I do, it's with Speedlites and umbrellas.

    What surprised me was the low cost of the Alien Bees compared to other units, like ProFoto, etc. How do you like these lights, are they easy to use? I'm asking because if I ever wanted/needed something more powerful than a Speedlite, this would fit the budget, but I have no idea of the pros and cons.

  • Dave

    I’ve had an Alien Bee AB 1600 flash along with a Vagabond Mini battery for years never had an issue.  Just remember you have to set them up manually there is no TTL.  When used in a situation described above it isn’t a problem as you set the monolights up, take a couple of test shot adjust your aperture and iso for the correct exposure.  When I’m using an Alien Bee outside and moving and the shooting conditions are changing I use the RadioPopper JrX system it lets you make manual adjustments from the camera you still have to take test shots to get the correct exposure, still better than making the adjustments at the monolight.

    I would like to get a TTL monolight system, but as I shoot with Sony cameras the TTL moonlight systems have not been available.


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