DIY Photo Umbrella

Written by edwin navarro
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DIY Photo Umbrella
A photo umbrella is used for soft photographic lighting. (studio umbrella image by jimcox40 from

A photo umbrella is commonly used to create a diffused or "soft" lighting effect in taking portrait pictures. This is done by shining a light into an umbrella, which reflects the light back toward the subject. Photographic umbrella lighting kits can be bought in stores that sell camera equipment. However, an improvised type can be made using a medium-size umbrella, with at least a 36-inch diameter, available in many general merchandise stores.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hacksaw
  • Sandpaper
  • White, silver or gold enamel spray paint
  • Photo umbrella bracket
  • Light stand
  • Light reflector
  • 250 watt flood bulb

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  1. 1

    Cut the umbrella handle using a hacksaw. Smooth the resulting sharp edges with sandpaper.

    DIY Photo Umbrella
    Remove the umbrella handle. (umbrella image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from
  2. 2

    Spray paint the inner lining of the umbrella with a reflective enamel paint and let it dry. Use a white paint for an umbrella that will reflect a "softer" light. Use silver paint for a stronger or "harsher" light, or use a gold-coloured paint for a "warmer" light.

    DIY Photo Umbrella
    Choose a spray paint colour to match the lighting intensity you want. (spray image by Dragana Petrovic from
  3. 3

    Extend the tripod legs of the light stand. Any metal pole with a tripod base, such as an old mic stand, that is at least four-feet high can be used.

    DIY Photo Umbrella
    A tripod needs to be extended to get light reflected on a person's face. (retro tripod image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from
  4. 4

    Mount umbrella holder bracket on top of the tripod. This kind of bracket can be bought in photographic stores or on the internet. Then insert umbrella into the bracket.

  5. 5

    Screw in the 250 watts photo flood bulb into the light reflector, both commonly sold in hardware stores. Mount this assembly to the bracket pointed into the umbrella.

    DIY Photo Umbrella
    The photo flood bulb should be 250 watts. (light image by Christopher Hall from
  6. 6

    Position your photo umbrella light about three feet away from your subject. Plug it in and start taking pictures.

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